Monday, November 12, 2018

Interview with Children's Book Author Chris Sarracini


Chris Sarracini has been working in the comic book and film industries for over 15 years. In addition to writing for a number of successful comic book favorites including TRANSFORMERS, STREET FIGHTER and DARK MINDS, his own creations include FATE OF THE BLADE and CASA NOSTRA. As a screenwriter, he has worked with Universal Pictures, Disney and Nasser Entertainment. His most recent publication is the children's picture book WHERE WISHES GROW... 

Chris lives with his family in Toronto where he continues to create and write.
Website Address: www.chrissarracini.com

Thanks for this interview, Chris.  I’ve always wanted to write children’s books.  When did you determine that writing for children was for you?

I have been writing for the comic book and movie industries for several years and, throughout that time, I always found myself wanting to write a children’s book. I had several ideas in mind I kept coming back to that I thought were really special. Ideas that I felt could have a strong impact on younger and older readers alike. “Where Wishes Grow…” is my first children’s book and working to bring the book to life with Pauline Aksay, the book’s illustrator, was a very fun and cathartic experience (especially considering the story we told).

What was the inspiration behind your children’s book, “Where Wishes Grow…”?

I wanted to write a book that felt timeless. I wanted to tell a story that would have a powerful emotional impact not just on the kids enjoying the book but also on the parents or grandparents who might be reading it with them. “Where Wishes Grow…” focuses on the unbreakable bond of love between a young girl (Maggie), her mother and her grandmother. Maggie’s grandmother is bedridden and Maggie has some wishes she desperately wants to come true; wishes that would help her grandmother enjoy the vibrant life she once had. And so, Maggie’s mom comes up with a plan to help those wishes to grow. I wanted the story to remind readers, young and old, just how powerful the bonds of family are and how important it is to cherish the shared memories between generations because time with family is precious.

How do you get into the mind of a child to create a fun reading experience?  Are you around kids?  Are you a kid at heart?

I think I am a kid at heart! Working on certain comic book projects (like “Transformers” and “Street Fighter”—two of my childhood favorite franchises) has definitely helped me hone my youthful sensibilities when writing. Working as a high school English teacher also keeps me feeling young as I have to always keep my finger on the pulse of what my students are feeling and what they think is trending. But most of all, my two-year-old daughter reminds me everyday of the innocence and wonder of seeing things and experiencing things for the first time.

What was your favorite book as a child?

So difficult to choose! Some of my favorites included “The Fantastic Mr. Fox”, “James and the Giant Peach” and “The Giving Tree”.

What kind of advice would you give writers who would like to write children’s books?

Try and bring rhythm to your sentences. Vivid description is important, but I think that when it comes to children’s books, the musicality of the language might be even more important.

What are your goals for the future?  More children’s books?

I continue to write graphic novels, comic books and movie scripts. I would love to publish some more children’s books in the near future and am in talks with some illustrators I would love to collaborate with. Stay tuned!

About the Book:

Where Wishes Grow… is the story of eight-year-old Maggie, a pensive and courageous dreamer, whose big heart starts to break when her grandmother becomes bedridden and sick with no recovery in sight. Fortunately Maggie has some wishes in mind to breathe life into Nana and is about to learn the secret for making them come true.

Watching Nana’s health fail has been difficult for Maggie and so now much of her time is spent dreaming up wishes for ways she can help her. Maggie conjures up three wishes for Nana she desperately wants to come true: for Nana to see again to enjoy her favorite beautiful things, for her to walk again to visit her favorite places, and for her to speak again so that she and Maggie can sing their favorite songs. The problem is, with wishes this important, Maggie wants to be sure she can realize them; wishing upon stars that may be long dead or relying on birthday candle hoopla just won’t cut it. Thankfully, Maggie’s mother knows the secret for turning wishes into reality…you’ve got to write each wish down and then go plant each one in just the right place. And, as Maggie discovers, retelling the story of how each wish was planted turns out to be the most magical part.

ORDER YOUR COPY:

Amazon


Thursday, October 18, 2018

Book Review: LaLa Feels Blah-La by Teia Kayne


Title: LALA FEELS BLAH-LA
Author: Tela Kayne
Publisher: The Virtue Agency
Pages: 30
Genre: Children’s Picture Book

Welcome to LaLa’s World: Where kids learn how to be the change!

In this newly released children’s book, “LaLa Feels Blah-La,” a young girl and her stuffed bear wake up feeling blah for no apparent reason. LaLa’s mom teaches her to be mindful of her feelings and turn her mood around with the flip of a coin. Perfect for young readers, LaLa Feels Blah-La , teaches children to be more mindful of their feelings and manage their mood swings.

ORDER YOUR COPY:

Amazon | Barnes & Noble

Book Review:

Poor LaLa. While kids appear like they have the sun and the moon and in their hands, just like you and me, they still have mood swings and sometimes it's confusing to them. For some reason, they just wake up and don't feel just right and they lack the communication skills to let us know and we just feel like they've gotten up on the wrong side of bed and nothing we can do can change their feelings. That is, until mom comes to the rescue and saves the day. 

LaLa Feels Blah-La helps us in communicating with our children when they have a dip in mood swings and what I loooved about this book is that in the back, the author explains how she was inspired to write this book - many books written for children lack the spiritual wisdom that we all need in our lives.

I would gladly recommend this book and give it 5 rainbows (wish I could give it a higher ranking but 5 is top dog!).




Tuesday, July 3, 2018

Interview with Children's Book Author Tela Kayne @telakayne


As the daughter of a librarian, Tela Kayne grew up reading countless literary works of all genres in quiet corners of the local library. She developed the love of writing at an early age, penning theatrical productions that were performed in the family living room for an audience of loved ones. She officially began her creative career as a young actress in Atlanta, having appeared on stage in a variety of roles including Puck of Midsummer Night’s Dream and Alice in Alice in Wonderland.

After graduating college Summa Cum Laude from the University of Georgia with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Psychology and working a short stint in the “real world,” she moved to Los Angeles to pursue a career in film. After securing her Screen Actor’s Guild membership through appearances on television shows like G vs E, The Parkers and Get Real as well as films like Down to You, Almost Famous, and Disney’s The Kid, she decided to garner more behind-the-camera experience. She secured internships at Scott Rudin Productions, one of Hollywood’s most prolific and demanding producers and Mostow Lieberman Productions (U-571) at Universal Studios. She soon accepted a paid position with executive producer Chris Sievernich and discovered her love of screenplay development, running the coverage department for Kinowelt USA and assisting in the development of projects like Nurse Betty, The Wedding Planner and Welcome to Collinwood. After several years of working in Hollywood, she returned home to Atlanta in 2001 to focus on a career in strategic marketing.

As president and founder of The Virtue Agency, an integrated content development and marketing agency, Tela has spent the last fifteen years writing content and maximizing brand exposure and engagement for clients. She has authored articles that appear on MarketWatch (WSJ), Yahoo! Finance, MNN.com, EWG.org, and HealthyChild.org. She is also entering into the literary world with the release of LaLa Feels Blah-La, Book 1 of her debut children’s series, LaLa’s World.

WEBSITE & SOCIAL LINKS:

WEBSITE | TWITTER | FACEBOOK



About the Book:

Title: LALA FEELS BLAH-LA
Author: Tela Kayne
Publisher: The Virtue Agency
Pages: 30
Genre: Children’s Picture Book

BOOK BLURB:
Welcome to LaLa's World: Where kids learn how to be the change!

In this newly released children's book, "LaLa Feels Blah-La," a young girl and her stuffed bear wake up feeling blah for no apparent reason. LaLa's mom teaches her to be mindful of her feelings and turn her mood around with the flip of a coin. Perfect for young readers, LaLa Feels Blah-La , teaches children to be more mindful of their feelings and manage their mood swings.

ORDER YOUR COPY:

Amazon | Barnes & Noble



Thanks for this interview, Tela.  I’ve always wanted to write children’s books.  When did you determine that writing for children was for you?

I have four young daughters, and we’ve read thousands of bedtime stories. I love the magic that lives behind the cover of a great children’s story. My best times as a mom are when I get to snuggle the girls as we get lost in the imagination of the author’s inner child. I love a childlike perspective and find the simplicity of children’s book writing refreshing.

What was the inspiration behind your children’s book, LaLa Feels Blah-La?

The idea of LaLa’s World was born soon after the arrival of my second daughter. From birth, she had a hard time adjusting to her environment and could not self soothe. As she grew into a young girl, her frustration with lights that were too bright or food with funny textures grew into arguments with her sisters over things that simply could not be controlled. That coupled with a spiritual journey of my own, made me realize that my daughter could benefit from understanding her power within…that while she couldn’t always control what happened to her, she could control how she responded to it.

How do you get into the mind of a child to create a fun reading experience?  Are you around kids?  Are you a kid at heart?

Both! Did I mention I have FOUR young daughters? They all have big imaginations and inspire me to play every day. They make it easy for me to find my inner child and write about it. 

What was your favorite book as a child?

I had four that are still my favorites: The Giving Tree, Green Eggs and Ham, Go Dog Go and Good Night Moon

What kind of advice would you give writers who would like to write children’s books?

Don’t over-edit yourself! Let the words flow as outrageous or simple they may be and just let the story flow out of you. 

What are your goals for the future?  More children’s books?

I plan to continue the LaLa’s World Series. I’ve already written the second book and have plans for a third. I’m also writing a novel which is in an ambitious narrative and complex format. The sweet simplicity of “LaLa Feels Blah-La” was a much needed break!

Friday, April 27, 2018

Book Review: The ABCs of Living Green by Teresa A. McKeown

Title: THE ABCS OF LIVING GREEN
Author: Theresa A McKeown
Publisher: The ABCs of Everything, LLC
Pages: 56
Genre: Picture/poetry book for children and tweens

BOOK BLURB:

“The ABCs of Living Green” completes the ABC trilogy of picture books focused on raising happy, healthy, conscious children in body, mind and spirit. Written from the voice of Mother Earth, every letter of the alphabet and corresponding word gives readers a multitude of fun ways to be mindful not only of the planet we all share, but of the people with whom we share it. A book that focuses on the beauty and fulfillment of stepping up and doing our part in taking care of the environment and each other, “The ABCs of Living Green” is truly a book for the enlightened child of the 21st century.

For More Information

Check it out at Amazon!

 

Book Review:

One of the most important things that we as parents must do is teach our children how to save our planet. One way to show our children how to take care of our Mother Earth is by showing. Another way is reading The ABCs of Living Green to them. The illustrations, the colorful poetic way she tells the story, everything just comes together to get the message to the child without being condescending or appearing like we're preaching to them. 

This book takes you through the alphabet from 'Awaken' to 'Zen' (one of my favorite words by the way). What I loved about this book is that it not only teaches kids words they may never have heard of and how to help take care of our planet, but it can also be used as an escape for an adult - a feel good escape. While I'm reading it for review, I found myself taken to another level - a Zen level (there's that wonderful word again).

I would gladly recommend this book and give it 5 rainbows (wish I could give it a higher ranking but 5 is top dog!).




Thursday, April 26, 2018

Book Review: Rosie and Friends: One-Of-A-Kindness by Helen Hipp @rosiethepinkhippo

Title: ROSIE AND FRIENDS: ONE-OF-A-KINDNESS
Author: Helen Hipp
Publisher: A Different Kind of Safari, LLC
Pages: 40
Genre: Children

BOOK BLURB:

Embark on a new safari with Hornsby the rhino as he comes face-to-face with losing his sense of belonging. No longer accepted by his herd, Hornsby searches for companionship. With the help of his new buddies, Hornsby learns that his life is one of a kind, and that spreading his kindness is a good way to make new friends!

For More Information

Check it out at Amazon!

 

Book Review:

Cute, cute book! This book is all about taking something different about yourself and turning it into an asset. We all remember being bullied as kids right? Sometimes the child doesn't know how to react to someone teasing them about something about themselves that might be a bit different from everyone else. This is about turning something negative into positive and kids need to hear this message. It's not only entertaining, but teaches a great life lesson.

I absolutely loved this cute children's book and give it 5 rainbows.




Wednesday, April 4, 2018

Interview with Children's Book Author Helen Hipp @rosiethepinkhippo


Approaching life with excitement and energy, Helen works hard to help people achieve exuberance! Born in Yonkers, N.Y., in 1959, Helen is the middle child of five. Her father, whose work demanded strong problem-solving skills and mother whose interest in art, provided Helen with endless opportunities to look at things from different perspectives.

Today, Helen continues to take advantage of an imaginative mindset that creates opportunities out of obstacles. A concept she fostered in her children, one of whom has special needs. As Helen explored career opportunities, she connected her personal experiences (parenting a child with special needs) with her beliefs, professional skills, and aspirations.

Helen received her M.A. in counseling and began her career as a psychotherapist to help people find answers for their life problems. Her work eventually evolved into a coaching practice, WithinU Life Coaching, focusing on helping individuals with special needs reveal their innate ability to solve difficult situations. Inspiration and fun, is Helen’s motivation and her life’s fuel.

Helen explains her enthusiasm as, “each day is an opportunity, waiting to be shaped and here I am, the sculptor who gets to do the shaping.”

Helen has authored articles for Family Works and Washington Family Magazine and written multiple self-help articles published by ezine.com where she is viewed as an expert in her field. 

In addition to her work, Helen has written two children’s books creating a very effective way to motivate kids of all ages to meet their challenges with self-acceptance, confidence and understanding.
Her debut children’s book, A Different Kind of Safari, released in 2013 addresses the many questions life asks by offering up lighthearted, ever-changing perspectives that transform personal challenges into opportunities. Once again, the engaging safari family led by Rosie the Pink Hippo inspire, and help you see your life differently in her new book, Rosie and Friends Positively Different. With a cast characters experiencing real-life issues, her books provide children with the opportunity to identify, understand and feel supported by the characters handling of similar fears, interests, and concerns.

Rosie and Friends Helping Children to Understand That Their Uniqueness Is Not a Weakness.

WEBSITE & SOCIAL LINKS:

WEBSITE | TWITTER | FACEBOOK



About the Book:

Embark on a new safari with Hornsby the rhino as he comes face-to-face with losing his sense of
belonging. No longer accepted by his herd, Hornsby searches for companionship. With the help of his new buddies, Hornsby learns that his life is one of a kind, and that spreading his kindness is a good way to make new friends!

ORDER YOUR COPY:

Amazon


Thanks for this interview, Helen. I’ve always wanted to write children’s books. When did you determine that writing for children was for you?

It really was not a personal decision to write but a was a string of events that led to my writing of children’s books. My debut book A Different Kind of Safari released in 2013 was really just a story that I needed to tell, about my family’s own experience while on safari in Africa. I didn’t really intend to become a children’s book author. I knew, though, that the real-life lessons learned by my son, were both significant and relatable to other children with special needs and their parents. Publishing it was something I really did in the hopes of reaching out to and helping others.

The popularity of A Different Kind of Safari, recognized as one of the top ten autism books by Special Needs Book Review in 2015, feedback and reviews enthusiastic from readers, and a growing fan base endeared to the main character, Rosie the Hippo made the writing of the Rosie Adventure Series a natural progression.

The first book in that series, Rosie and Friends Positively Different released in 2016. And now with the 2017 release of Rosie and Friends One-Of-A-Kindness my career as an author of children’s books is well underway.
 
What was the inspiration behind your children’s book, Rosie and Friends One-Of-A-Kindness?

The main character TLC (known as the tender loving crocodile) was inspired by my father who was a wise man. The lesson of kindness he left me to pass on in this story is that kindness is a key. A key that when found and used correctly will help anyone see the value of being kind to oneself and to others.

How do you get into the mind of a child to create a fun reading experience?  Are you around kids?  Are you a kid at heart?

I guess you can say I am a child at heart, and yes, I am lucky enough to have young children around reminding me of life’s simple pleasures.

Nothing like children to keep your heart young!

What was your favorite book as a child?

Maurice Sendak’s “Where the Wild Things Are” is a book full of inspiring colorful monsters which I liked but I also liked “Blueberries for Sal” by Robert McCloskey and “Angels on Horseback” written by Norman Thelwell. Simple yet compelling relationships brought the muted characters to life for me because they were relatable and believe it or not, I continue to enjoy all of these books immensely.

What kind of advice would you give writers who would like to write children’s books?

Do what you love and love what you do? My words may sound hokey, but I truly believe the life of a story comes from a passion, not the ink of a pen.

What are your goals for the future? More children’s books?

For now, yes there are more books to write, but as far what the future holds, your guess is as good as mine.

Tuesday, April 3, 2018

Interview with Children's Book Author Cheryl Malandrinos @ccmalandrinos


Cheryl C. Malandrinos is a freelance writer and editor. She is the author of Little Shepherd, A Christmas Kindness, Macaroni and Cheese for Thanksgiving, and the recently released, Amos Faces His Bully. A blogger and book reviewer, she lives in Massachusetts with her husband and two daughters. She also has a son who is married. Visit Cheryl online at http://ccmalandrinos.com/ and her children’s book blog at https://childrensandteensbookconnection.wordpress.com/

WEBSITE & SOCIAL LINKS:


About the Book:

Title: AMOS FACES HIS BULLY
Author: Cheryl C. Malandrinos
Publisher: Guardian Angel Publishing
Pages: 20
Genre: Christian children's picture book

BOOK BLURB:
Amos is targeted by the town bully because he is so small. When word reaches Amos of his friend David's battle with Goliath, he thinks back to what David told him about putting his faith in God's protection. Perhaps the same God can help Amos face his bully too.

ORDER YOUR COPY:

Thanks for this interview, Cheryl.  I’ve always wanted to write children’s books.  When did you determine that writing for children was for you?

I didn’t. It happened by accident. In 2006, I began a full-length novel set in Biblical times for NaNoWriMo. It was the story of a shepherd boy named Obed who met the Holy family on the night of Christ’s birth. The story was set during the years of Jesus’ ministry. After the Resurrection, Obed seeks out the disciples to discover if Jesus is the Savior he met when he was just a boy.

The story wouldn’t come together (I still want to give it another shot). When I discussed the novel with my pastor, he asked if it was a children’s book. At that moment the gears began to turn in my head about how to make it a story for children.

Little Shepherd was released by Guardian Angel Publishing in 2010. Since then, I’ve continued to write stories for children. With the release of Amos Faces His Bully there are four books to my credit.

What was the inspiration behind your children’s book, Amos Faces His Bully?

Like Little Shepherd, this story places fictional characters in a Biblical setting. My first inspiration was to continue with the format of my first book—make it a series of unrelated, yet similar, stories. There are others planned.

My primary reason for writing Amos Faces His Bully, however, is very personal. I was bullied as a child; teased from the day I entered elementary until the day I graduated high school. We had a different approach to it back then—kids will be kids and let them handle it themselves. Yet, with all the awareness of bullying and the anti-bullying programs that exist in our cities and towns, bullying still exists. As I’ve worked hard to prevent my own child from being bullied, I wanted her to know God could provide her—and other victims of bullying—with peace and strength.

How do you get into the mind of a child to create a fun reading experience?  Are you around kids?  Are you a kid at heart?

As a mom and Sunday school teacher, I am around kids a lot. Though my girls are now teenagers, I still remember them in their younger years. It also helps that I am a great big kid myself. The important thing to do is spend time with children and really listen to them.

From a business perspective, I perform a lot of market research. I read children’s books. I browse the children’s fiction section of our local library. I research new releases and what agents who represent children’s literature are looking for.

What was your favorite book as a child?

The Little Engine That Could—though I knew it as The Pony Engine. I can still see the cover of that book in my mind. I read it over and again when I was a kid. I’m sure my persistence as an author goes back to that engrained “I THINK I can!” message.

What kind of advice would you give writers who would like to write children’s books?

Don’t shy away from the business end of writing. Perform market research: read books in your market; get to know your children’s librarian; visit publisher and agent websites to learn what they publish and what they are looking for. Write your story, then edit, edit, edit. Make your story the best it can be before submitting it to a publisher or agent. You won’t get a second chance to make a good first impression.

What are your goals for the future?  More children’s books?

I set new goals each year and review them quarterly. Since I successfully won STORYSTORM again this year—30 new story ideas during the 31 days of January—more stories are definitely in the works. I completed a new picture book thanks to last year’s STORYSTORM that I want to pitch to agents. Thanks to my writing group, I am 18 chapters into my middle-grade historical novel, Amelia’s Mission. I also have several other children’s stories in various stages. I would eventually like to dust off and polish that women’s fiction book I completed and, one day, would really like to give my original Obed idea a fair shot.