A Brand New Day: A Banana Split Story by A. S. Chung and Illustrated by Paula Bossio

A Brand New Day, children’s picture book about divorce receives a beautiful review from The Picture Book Review!

The Picture Book Review

A Brand New Day is an uplifting and beautifully illustrated story about a little girl’s life with her parents after the divorce.  It does a marvelous job of reminding us all that a parent’s marital status has nothing to do with how much they love their children.

Title: A Brand New Day:  A Banana Split Story

Author:  A. S. Chung

Illustrator:  Paula Bossio

Pigeonhole Books, July 2014, Fiction. ISBN: 978-0992538200

Suitable For Ages: 3 – 8+

Themes/Topics:

Family, Divorce, Parents

Opening:   

“I love Mondays and Tuesdays when I get to stay with my Dad.  I get to help make dinner with recipes from his notepad.”

Brief Synopsis:

A little girl tells us, in verse, about what her life is like on the alternating days that she spends with her mother and father.

From A Brand New Day. Images Courtesy of A.S. Chung.

From A Brand New Day. Images Courtesy…

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Illustrator Interview: Ben Sanders

Ben Sanders IllustratorPROFESSIONAL BIO:
I’m an Australian family man. I have a charming mid-twentieth century single car garage converted into a studio where I used to illustrate, stare blankly out of the window from my swivel chair and stroke my chin. But now I have a new studio in Bolivia, South America 
in the Spanish colonial city of Sucre, where I volunteer part-time while continue to illustrate for clients in Australia, USA and the UK. 
I’ve been an illustrator since 1987 but in that time I’ve completed secondary school, university and defected to the design and advertising industries from time to time.

1) How did you become an illustrator of children’s books or similar works? Did being in the advertising industry equip you to make this transition?
Yes my background in advertising and design was a big influence my return to illustration. I really enjoyed my time as an Art Director and Designer, and during that time I incorporated illustration into as many projects as I could. So it was inevitable that I would find a way back to full-time drawing. Having been on the ‘other side of the fence’, I knew what I needed to do to give freelance a good crack. I found out where to be found, and how to promote myself well enough to gain the work I wanted to do. I’m thankful that it worked out.

After establishing myself commercially, I had time to write children’s books and was fortunate enough to have a great agent who was able to connect me to publishers.

2) Describe your illustration style and creative process. What makes your illustrations unique and different?
The creative process for me is actually quite simple. If an idea enters the brain an attempt should always be made to scribble it down, no matter how bad I think the idea may be. After a while there should be quite a few badly drawn but reasonably good ideas on the page. I then need to recognise which idea will work best on the page, as well as deliver the story in the right ‘tone of voice’. I then work up a pencil sketches that will provide enough but not too much detail. 

Once the sketches have been given the thumbs up it’s time to apply colour. I recreate the drawing on my Mac in a vector format, and devise a simple, muted scheme. I then create a new file for each colour the same way a screen printer would build a new silkscreen for each ink. The separate colours are imported into Photoshop in individual layers and multiplied on top of each other. Often the intersecting of these layers will create new colours similar to letterpress. I then mess up the crispness of the vector shapes by erasing details and applying texture. 

If I’ve done a good job, we’re all satisfied. We exchange heart-warming emails about how we both enjoyed working with each other and vow to do it all again sometime soon.

3) When did you realise you could make a living from your talent?
Well, my dad was in the printing trade (and an excellent artist in his own right). One of his regular clients was a small local publishing outfit who needed a bunch of illustrations for a sheet of kids’ stickers. I was twelve years old, and in the late 1980’s child labour laws were easier to ignore than they are these days, so my dad encouraged me to submit a few drawings for consideration. 

During that summer I illustrated 32 stickers – things like elephants riding bicycles, walruses smoking pipes, apples with bites out of their bottoms – the usual stuff. Each summer holidays throughout secondary school I illustrated a new set of stickers. They were quite popular and the publisher found overseas markets for them, so it was nice to know my work was getting out there. It also meant that I didn’t need to get one of those summer jobs as a spotty-faced supermarket trolley-boy. So it was pretty early on that I got a taste of working as a professional illustrator.

It wasn’t until 2004, while working as an Art Director at an advertising agency that I made the decision to become a full-time illustrator. I was hiring illustrators for ad jobs and became a little jealous of their freelance-iness. I quit and started promoting myself as an illustrator.

4) Has technology changed your trade and the way you work?
Oh yes, technology has changed EVERYTHING. I couldn’t have imagined as a twelve year old watercolourist that I would be relying so heavily on technology for both communicating with clients as well as the execution of the illustrations themselves. These influences are obvious, but there is an even greater affect. Location. I live in Bolivia, South America now, volunteering, creating books, and illustrating for my commercial clients in Australia, the UK and the USA. None of these things would be possible for me without my computer, its applications and the reach of the internet all the way up the Andes Mountains. Ahhh … technology!

5) Who are your biggest influences in your artistic career and why?
My dad is the greatest influence. Our styles are completely different but nobody has influenced me more in this department. He was the one who got me my first freelance gig while I was still pre-teen.

My first full time job was at a place called Paul’s Signs. The owner Paul van Gaans is one of the most creative people I know. While we worked on signs in the mid-1990s we spurring each other on creatively. Paul taught me not to settle for less – to keep striving. That’s why we no longer make signs. Paul is now a hugely successful 3D Animator with a brilliant body of work.

In the recent past I worked collaboratively with a couple of other illustrators and friends in Ballarat. Both Travis Price and Sam Harmer have been influential in bringing me out of my creative shell.

6) When collaborating with an author or a client, how do you ensure you are able to translate their words into art and convey the message they are trying to portray?
On a weekly basis I’m reading stories and attempting to pick up on the right tone. That’s something that I’m used to now after illustrating for hundreds of magazine articles. For me it’s not so much interpreting the words or message, it’s more about what else I can contribute to the story. What can I add to the piece? Can I approach the subject in a different and complimentary way?

With picture storybooks, so far in my career I have only illustrated the books I have authored, so it’s a far easier process to understand where the writer is coming from. As I’m writing the books I’m often imagining the pages completely illustrated.

7) Tell us how you came about creating the Ben Sanders gift store and the products that you sell.
The Ben Sanders Shop on RedBubble is a fun side-project that has exceeded my expectations. I decided to utilise a bunch of out-of-use illustrations that I felt would work well as household and stationery items like cushions, journals, phone covers and even bed spreads.

8) What advice do you have for aspiring illustrators about being true to themselves and how to navigate the big bad world of publishing?
Well, the publishing world can seem big and bad at times, but I think that’s only a perception. There’s so much competition that you really need to have a unique voice in order to be heard, that’s the tough part.

When you have the opportunity to publish your work take as much advice as you are given by wiser and more experienced people in the industry. My books improved greatly during the development process, due to listening intently to editors and publishers. At the same time don’t be afraid to have your input and express your vision for the project. A good publisher will appreciate your enthusiasm, and take into consideration your ideas.

9) Please provide a short brief of each of the pictures you have submitted
Cover of I’ve an Uncle Ivan children’s picture book.

I've An Uncle Ivan by Ben Sanders

Cover of I Could Wear That Hat! children’s activity book.

I Could Wear That Hat by Ben Sanders

Buck gets his gut stuck in his truck, limited edition print of a character from I’ve an Uncle Ivan.

Buck Stuck Truck by Ben Sanders

Should you wish to know more about Ben, here are his pertinent details.

Website: Ben Sanders
Ben’s social media connections:

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How Amazon’s Author Central Can Improve Your SEO

A.S. Chung B&WPosted by A.S. Chung.
Award-wining author of children’s picture books A Brand New Day: about divorce and Wishful Wedding: about LGBT equality and same gender families. Creator of Pigeonhole Books and blogs about self-publishing, writing, online book marketing, peer bloggers and illustrators.

HOW AMAZON’S AUTHOR CENTRAL CAN IMPROVE YOUR SEO
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A.S. Chung Amazon Author PageWell done! You have managed to list your book on Amazon and it is now available for sale. It would seem that for most self-published authors, this is the first port of call and it always brings about such a great sense of achievement when you finally see your book listed and is available all around the world.

Now, have you set up your author page?

It is quite amazing how many indie authors don’t utilise this free function or aren’t even aware of its existence. I was certainly guilty of it until a fellow author pointed out to me that I hadn’t uploaded mine. It is perhaps one of the most under-utilised marketing tools and one shouldn’t under-estimate its value. Some of the benefits of having an Amazon author page include:

Let Your Readers Get To Know You
The Amazon Author Central page enables readers to get to know you as an author. This small engagement brings some life to the book and can often encourage the reader to buy your book if they identify with you and your story.

Controlling You Profile
Amazon is a jungle. With more and more books being self-published on a daily basis, it is imperative to take advantage of any medium which may assist with increasing exposure. Taking full control of your Amazon profile helps to define you and your books in exactly the manner you wish to. You are also able to add more books to the list as you continue to launch new titles.

Keyword Searches on Amazon
Having a well-managed author profile will aid in keyword searches on the website and improve your Amazon and Google SEO.

Tracking Sales
Amazon Author Central provides free book tracking in terms of weekly sales, sales rank and author rank. This could certainly help you with your Amazon book marketing strategies if you understand when and where your books are being sold.

Getting More Followers
You are able to interface your blog postings and Twitter feeds onto the profile page so it is always showcasing your most up to date postings. Readers do enjoy seeing that the author is active in the social media world and any subsequent follows increases the author’s presence. This in turn leads to greater web presence and assists with search engine tools.

Reader Interaction
Author forums and discussions are also another free function of the program. This allows the author to interact with readers personally and is an invaluable capability.

Customer Reviews
All Amazon customer reviews for all your books may be found in one place and thus easily accessible.

The setup of the author page is a highly user-friendly process. Follow these steps for how to set up your profile page.

Author Page Tab

  1. Sign up for Amazon Author Central.
  2. Click on “edit biography” to add a biography of no more than 100 words. Amazon provides you with an example of a good biography.
  3. Click on “add a blog” if you have one so that the reader can see your real time updates.
  4. Click on “add event” to share your upcoming speaking engagements, bookstore appearances, and other events.
  5. Add up to 8 photos that will help to enhance your author profile.
  6. Add any relevant videos of interviews, book trailers, or book signings.
  7. Add Twitter account so your feed is included in your profile.

Amazon Author Central Author Page

Books Tab

  1. Click on “add book” to create your bibliography.
  2. Search by title, author or ISBN.
  3. Add any editorial reviews.
    a. Reviews should be from reputable sources and the source should be credited after the quotation.
    b. Quotes from outside reviews should follow “fair use” copyright guidelines.
    c. Limit of 1-2 sentence.
    d. Up to 600 characters.
  4. Add product description.
    a. An objective summary of the book subject matter and genre.
    b. Up to 4000 characters.
    c. Don’t include spoilers!
  5. Add something from the author.
    a. A message from you about this book – what was your experience writing it, why did you write this book and how does it relate to other books you’ve written?
    b. Up to 8000 characters.
  6. Add something from the inside flap.
    a. Content inside your book’s flap should be transcribed without any changes.
    b. Up to 8000 characters.
  7. Add something from the back cover.
    a. Content inside your book’s flap should be transcribed without any changes.
    b. Up to 8000 characters.
  8. Write something about the author.
    a. This section should be the same or similar to your biography as it would appear in a book.
    b. Up to 2000 characters.
  9. Make sure this information is copied across all available editions i.e. eBook, paperback and/or hardcover.

Amazon Author Central Book Page

And that is it! Important to update your profile over time as you change and evolve. Reminder that if you have books on amazon.uk, it is not an automatic update on that site; you would have to login and create a profile specifically for that site. If you are able to get your profile translated, you should also update your author central page for other large international Amazon sites such as France, Germany and Japan.

Press: TQS Magazine

TQS Magazine

Wishful Wedding is featured on TQS Magazine UK! According to TQS Magazine, “This new LGBT children’s book will melt your heart”.

The magazine writes “So she has created Wishful Wedding a picture book about marriage equality for same gender families. Told through the eyes of a small child from a same-sex family, the book is aimed for children 3-6 years, aiming to highlight diverse and multicultural family units through beautiful illustrations.”

In 2010, Editor Jamie McHale a blog to talk about his favourite LGBT films, then continued on to talk about TV and music. As the blog grew, he gained some wonderful contributors and evolved into the more general pop culture webzine that we see today.

 

 

Blogger Interview: Shari Anderson & Cheryce Thompson

Optimistic Divorcees by Shari Anderson & Cheryce ThompsonOPTIMISTIC DIVORCEES BY SHARI ANDERSON & CHERYCE THOMPSON

PROFESSIONAL BIO:
The Optimistic Divorcees was created as a way to share our experiences surrounding our marriages and divorces in an effort to encourage, support and relate to those who are experiencing separation or divorce. We realize that this transition is not easy and often times you may feel alone or believe no one understands. We do. It is our hope that this blog connects with those who need to know that there is a light at the end of the tunnel, life goes on and there’s reason to remain optimistic.

1) Tell us what your blog is about and what inspired its conception?
The Optimistic Divorcees blog is about encouraging, supporting and inspiring those who may have dealt or are currently dealing with or contemplating divorce through our stories and the stories of others who have experienced it. We aim to show that although divorce is painful, there IS life after divorce!

2) Who is your ideal reader and what do you hope they can gain from your blog?
Our ideal reader is anyone who has experienced divorce or may be contemplating a divorce. We hope that through the content of our blog, readers realize that they are not alone in their experiences and that leading a full, enjoyable, happy life is possible after divorce.

3) Where do you see your blog in 5 years’ time and will the topic continue to be as prevalent?
In 5 years time, it would be great to have a larger following of our blog as well as products based on our blogs – books, etc. The statistics for divorce haven’t decreased, so the topic will definitely continue to be a prevalent one.

4) How do you continually find content for your blog?
We typically find content for our blog just by conversations we have with one another or with friends, and of course pop culture. Relationship talk is always big among women. 🙂

5) How to do you remain committed to each other to keep the blog going?
There aren’t many successful blogs out there that are a collaboration! Admittedly, it’s hard to remain committed to keeping the blog going. It’s a much bigger task than we’d originally anticipated. We are actually just coming off of a three-month hiatus. However, we believe that our experiences and what we share in our content can be of help to those dealing with divorce. It’s also encouraging to hear from readers who tell us that were encouraged by something that read on the blog.

6) Tell us about your Hump Day Haiku and OD Adventures segments of your blog.
Our #HumpDayHaiku segment is a fun and creative way to poetically share our thoughts on topics related to relationships and divorce. We like to think of them as quick therapeutic exercises. Our OD Adventures segments seek to show us just living life and doing things we love – being tourists in our own city and other places we visit, dining out (we consider ourselves foodies), etc.

7) What would you say to a new divorcee on how to remain optimistic and positive?
Our advice would be to take the process one day at a time, surround yourself with those who will encourage and support you and keep moving forward. Don’t look at what was lost, but instead look for the lessons in how you can be even better in the new chapter of your life. What will help them get through the initial stages of loss? What will help them get through the initial stages of loss is actually allowing themselves to really acknowledge what their feeling and allow themselves to feel every emotion – anger, hurt, confusion, etc. Masking how they really feel during this time can only prolong the healing process.

8) Do you have any advice for aspiring bloggers?
When you want to give up, DON’T! Recognize and remember that what you have to share, someone needs to read to be inspired or encouraged!

THANK YOU FOR LETTING US GETTING TO KNOW YOU!
Should you wish to know more about Shari Anderson & Cheryce Thompson and would like to follow their blog, here are all their pertinent details.

Blog: Optimistic Divorcees
Shari & Cheryce’s social media connections:

social-facebook-box-blue-icon social-twitter-box-blue-icon 

How To Combat Blogger’s Block!

Susan DayGuest Posting by Susan Day.
Susan Day is a children’s author of over 20 print and eBooks. She has been working her social media presence for over five years and feels her head is just bursting with tips and advice. To alleviate this condition she has decided to blog a non-fiction book one post at a time entitled How to Publish a Children’s Book at Little or No Cost.

HOW TO COMBAT BLOGGER’S BLOCK!
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Stop The Block

So, you’ve started a blog and you are going to rock the world with your insights, humour, wisdom and in-depth insights into your chosen field. Well, that’s the plan anyway. And sure, you plod along nicely posting relevant and important information to your league of avid followers. Things start to go a bit wonky and, one day, you find that you are bleeding your brain dry trying to find new ideas to blog about each day.

Well, this is certainly how I feel, that’s for sure.

A new blog starts every 4 minutes, or so I have been informed. Most blogs, however, don’t survive more than two years. Their creators simply can’t keep up with the constant demand to post new information. I can certainly sympathize with them. It’s darn hard work blogging each day.

I’ve been blogging for nearly ten years now. My first blog was about dog training – I am a canine behaviourist and was just starting a new dog training business at the time. That seems like a hundred years ago now. I have been writing children’s books for five years and my author blog has been going for just about the same time. Recently, I started blogging my first non-fiction book one post at a time. How do I keep motivated? How do I keep going?

Blogger’s Block hits us all at some time or another.

So what can be done about it? Here are a few tips that keep me on track and inspired.

  • Keep your eyes peeled for relevant information you can use. Follow other authors and publishers’ newsletters. If you are going to share something make sure you source it back to the original creator.
  • Go back and look at what you have done in the past. Is there anything you can take from an old post that you can expand upon to create a new one
  • Is there an aspect of your field that you haven’t thought of yet? A different angle you could look at and write about?
  • Pictures, memes, info-graphs are the most popular things looked at online. Why not repost a relevant one each week? Everyone loves cute and funny pictures and they are willing to share them.
  • What can you give away and make your blog much more interesting?
  • Ask others to participate as guest bloggers or ask people to contribute one or two sentences about a particular subject – just like I did below.

It’s true. When I was considering writing an article about Blogger’s Block I knew there would be loads of people out there with much better ideas than I have. So, I popped a short post on a couple of Facebook groups and below are the responses.

I think you’ll agree that they are very clever and helpful.

Melissa Gijsbers Khalinsky from Melissa Writes tells us that, “Some of the things I do to help me – have a theme day (e.g. Friday Five) and that can act as a prompt, another example is I try and put a post to do with the business of being a writer on a Monday. I also read other blogs and get involved in discussions in writers groups as they can give me some great ideas for blog posts. If I get really desperate, I look at some of my old posts and expand or update them. For example I did a post on ways you can use social media to help your writing, then did a follow up with 5 ways Pinterest can help your writing.”

June Perkins from Gumboots Pearlz has created 19 reflective and unique blog posts. She has even listed all the people who mentored and inspired her through her journey. This, in itself, is a great idea for a blog post.

Cate Brickell from Life Behind The Purple Door says, “My number one trick is to get outside with a notebook and free write, fresh air and sunshine always gets the juices flowing. Failing that, just sitting down and starting has always worked, just write anything and eventually the right words come out.”

Shellie Wilson from http://www.Craftgossip.com states, “I tend to sit down and think about what is bothering me about life, organization, food preparation, parenthood etc. I then come up with an article of interest. I know my issues are the same issues 100’s of people have. I work an angle from there.”

Kylie Archer from Kidgredients says, “Being a food blog, I just cook, without trying to make up a recipe for the blog. More often than not it works out well and there you go…a blog post!”

Anne Mazza from Domesblissity tell us, “I’m a food blogger as well and always have a recipe under my belt. If not, I do compilation posts like 10 things to do with cauliflower or other seasonal vegetable, for example. I also keep my ears and eyes open to find out what current food trends are and write about that. If not, I can always find something to write about my kids or parenting problems I have.”

Kelli Schultz from Nourishing Therapeutics states, “I find I write and write while I am in the mood and that leaves me enough posts for those times. I write about nutrition and health. We run fermenting workshops in Launceston, Tasmania.”

Lydia C Lee from Pandora and Max says, “I am struggling with this at the moment. I just write and write and currently have 8 unfinished posts sitting in draft, because I don’t like any of them. I did write one for tomorrow. It’s an honest admission, different to what I normally do. I think just keep writing and moving on to the next one if you don’t like it or can’t finish it.”

Robyna May from The Mummy and The Minx tells us, “I keep a notepad for ideas by my bed. Sometimes I just jot down a random idea and sometimes a whole outline for a post. When I’m stuck, that notepad provides inspiration.”

I’ve Written My Book, Now What? Where To From Here?

Posted by Deb Hockenberry.
Deb Hockenberry is the children’s picture book author of Where Can We Have The Party? Deb always wanted to write for children since she was a child myself! Deb also blogs about her writing journey and what happens after you’ve written your masterpiece!

I’VE WRITTEN MY BOOK, NOW WHAT? WHERE TO FROM HERE?
ONLINE BOOK MARKETING TIP
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Milan Book Stall by Weldon Kennedy

YAY! I did it! My picture book is being just about ready to go to print. Okay, that’s great news for me but now what? I know I have to market and promote my book but exactly how do I do that?

I’ve found a few things out. First, it’s very important to have a web presence. Start a blog, a website, or both. If you want to do both, Weebly is a very good webhost. It’s a WYSIWYG website and that makes it very friendly for a non – techie person like myself. So is GoDaddy. There are also free ones out there like Blogger and WordPress. All of these are what-you-see-is-what-you-get sites.

Unfortunately, I’ve only found one book on how to market and promote a children’s book. That book is called: How To Promote Your Children’s Book: Tips, Tricks, and Secrets To A Best Seller.  This book is chock full of information. I can tell you from experience that you really should read this eBook with a pen and notebook next to you!

From this book I’ve found out a few things.

  1. Join social networking sites. Yep, let yourself be known. I don’t mean to constantly talk about your book. That’s spamming. Just socialize—that’s the key word in social networking. Then when you get your book cover or box of books, take a picture and share it on those sites. Now, you can talk about your book. But again, don’t talk about it every day. You might get a sale this way!
  2. Pull up a spreadsheet (or write this down) of your plan to market your book. Are you going to ask your online friends to review your book? That’s always fun. I’ve been involved in many blog-hops! Do you plan on going through a paid publicity site like World of Ink? Are you going to contact the Author’s Showcase to see when you can be on that internet radio show? How about where you can do book signings and book readings? You can put an ad in the newspaper announcing your book. You can also have you friends who review books interview you. Actually, this can be any friend you blogs. Write all this down so you don’t forget your plan.
  3. Google the subject of your book in your town. For instance, my book subject is a birthday party. Google “birthday party + your town. I was so surprised at the amount of links I received for this! I had no idea there was a place specifically for parties in this town. You can use you phone book to look these places up.
  4. Have a media kit (media release) prepared. I’m still working on mine since my picture book won’t be out for a few months but here’s what you need: On one sheet of paper you should scan a picture of the book, have a short bio of yourself, and a blurb of the book. Also on this page you should have the pertinent information about your book (ISBN number, number of pages, price, and the buy links). Don’t forget you contact information on that page! This includes your mailing information, website, and email address. On a separate page have your publicity picture.
  5. Read marketing blogs and books. They’re full of advice. True they aren’t specifically geared to children’s writing but to marketing in general. I’ve found an excellent marketing website called The Publicity Hound by Joan Stewart. Don’t forget to sign up for her free ezine. It’s full of advice!
  6. Learn to make a video. Videos promote you and your book much better than plain text. I’ve found this out by using Facebook. It dawned on me one night when I was thinking about how to market my upcoming book, that I always stop at the videos on Facebook to watch them.

In your computer is a free movie maker. If you have Windows, you’ll have Movie Maker, for a Mac it’s called iMovie or iMovie Maker. Windows also has free music included with Movie Maker called All Free Music. The point is that you can make your own book trailer by yourself and for free. Book trailers raise interest in your book and that means more possible sales.

This is what I’ve learned so far with the most important being a web presence. You can advertise and even sell your book there. So, get one! Read those marketing books and form your own ideas. Join the many different social networking sites, get to know the people, and let them know you!

Author Interview: Michelle R. Eastman

The Legend of Dust Bunnies, a Fairy’s Tale by Michelle R. Eastman

THE LEGEND OF DUST BUNNIES, A FAIRY’S TALE
BY MICHELLE R. EASTMAN

1) Please provide a short excerpt of what your children’s book is about.
The Legend of Dust Bunnies, a Fairy’s Tale is a light-hearted story about a serious topic: Being Yourself.

The Legend of Dust Bunnies will open your eyes to a world of dirt and dust that you never knew could be so magical and fun! Did you know that Dust Fairies come into our homes at night and spread dust, drape spider webs, and even spit crumbs into the carpet? They do!  It’s true!  Well, not all fairies. Artie is different. He doesn’t like messes, and he doesn’t fit in. At first, Artie is lonely and unsure of what to do, but then he takes matters into his own hands. When given lemons you’re supposed to make lemonade, right? This story does one better, it turns DUST into DUST BUNNIES. The Legend of Dust Bunnies is the story about how and why a misfit Dust Fairy turns dust into cuddly dust bunnies and the joyful aftermath that follows. It will have families looking at dust bunnies in a new light, and may actually give kids an excuse NOT to clean their rooms.

2) What inspired you to write this book?
My story’s main character, Artie, was inspired by my eight-year old son’s habit of collecting things.  He notices and appreciates the beauty in items that most of us would cast off as trash.  Artie uses found items to create unique treasures and happily shares them with his fellow Dust Fairies.

3) Why did you pick this genre?
Rhyming picture books are my favorite books to read. My son and I make a trip to the library once a week to fill our bag. He is now 9, and I still read aloud to him each night. I have wanted to write a picture book for most of my adult life. Publishing this book has been an incredible experience.

4) How do the illustrations complement your book? What was important to you as an author?
The book’s illustrator, Kevin Richter, created the cover and the entire layout and design of the book. I connected with Kevin via Elance. He is an incredibly talented guy, and he’s a pleasure to work with. He is in the UK, and I am in Iowa. All of our communication has been via email. Despite the distance, it has been a wonderful collaborative partnership. Kevin “got” the story immediately. Not only did he bring my vision to life; he brought elements to the story I hadn’t even imagined. Kevin is an experienced comic book illustrator, and I think his experience with that genre gave the characters and scenes an action-packed quality that further enhanced the story.

5) As a child, what books and/or authors influenced you the most and why?
I grew up in a low-income household with teen-aged parents. Books were not a priority in our house.  I am pretty sure I was never read to as a baby or as a small child. When I started school, I began to develop a love for books. It was exciting when the book-mobile rolled into our neighborhood and I could climb on board and check out a few books. One of my favorite books was Charlotte’s Web. I won a copy of it as part of a RIF sponsored contest at school. I cherished that book. I also loved Beverly Cleary books and anything relating to history and biographies.

6) What is the most fulfilling thing about being an author?
Visiting schools and libraries and interacting with kids is the very best part of the whole author experience. I am also proud of a literacy initiative I started called Picture Book Pass it On.  I encourage people to collect/donate books to kids in need. This past March, I hosted a special drive called MARCHing Books to Kids. We collected over 300 books for children of incarcerated parents. Children’s authors from around the world donated signed copies of their books to the project.

7) What do you hope children will take away with them after reading your book?
The main character, Artie, has a hard time finding his place among the other Dust Fairies. He wants to be accepted, but he isn’t willing to change who he is to do that. Although there is a take-away message, I try to subtly weave it into the story. Kids are smart cookies-they take away what is meaningful to them and their life experiences.

8) Who is/are your favourite author/s as an adult and why?
I spend a lot of time reading children’s picture books. I enjoy reading them and I find them comforting and inspiring. I like to read short stories (especially sci-fi from the 50’s and 60’s). It is fascinating to see how many of the futuristic elements are now commonplace. I also like reading and re-reading poetry from Langston Hughes.

9) What are you working on now?
Kevin and I just released our newest book, Dust Fairy Tales: Absolutely Aggie. This book takes a light-hearted approach to the compelling desire kids have to fit-in. The story validates the need we feel for acceptance, while imparting a gentle take-away message of the joy that can come from embracing one’s individuality.

Here is the synopsis:
Fairies, music, and dust! Oh my! Aggie is a little Dust Fairy with a big problem. She wants to join the fairy band, but they do not approve of her offbeat style. Aggie is determined to impress them, but that turns out to be harder than she imagined. Just when she thinks she will never find a way to fit in, Aggie discovers it might be more fun to stand out.

Michelle R. Eastman

THANK YOU FOR LETTING US GETTING TO KNOW YOU!
Should you wish to know more about Michelle R. Eastman and would like to purchase her book, here are all her pertinent details.

Website: Michelle R.Eastman
Where to purchase her book: Michelle R.Eastman, Amazon and Barnes & Noble
Michelle’s social media connections:

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A Brand New Day Review: by C.J. Anaya

A Brand New Day receives a 5 STAR review from author C.J. Anaya of The Healer Series. She began writing short stories for family and friends when she was thirteen years old. This soon morphed into an extensive project every year during Christmas as a way to create a fun and inexpensive Christmas gift. Her passion for reading and writing led her to following her own dreams of becoming a published author.

C.J. also contributes her book reviews every fortnight for the Skin Deep Exposures online magazine. SDE Magazine is a quarterly publication committed to meeting women where they are and then inspiring and uplifting them as they discover where they are meant to be. Please find the original posting here.

Here is her most generous review:
Hello to all of you voracious readers. Today I’ve highlighted a story that takes on a difficult aspect of life and helps to search out the positives for children and parents alike. A Brand New Day introduces the issue of divorce and addresses the outcome in a way that helps children transition into their new and sometimes overwhelming circumstances.

I adored this children’s book. From the delightful illustrations to the sweet, poignant message, I think the author has provided families with a special treasure we should all add to our children’s book collection. Divorce is a difficult matter to take on, and finding the positives in this situation is a refreshing approach. I think the poetic lines of the poem break down the different moments spent with separate parents in a happy, feel good way, and the message of this book encourages little ones going through such a difficult experience to remember that separate doesn’t equal unloved. It simply means they are being loved in two different homes with two different families.

I’ve never experienced a divorce myself, but other parents going through it have mentioned to me their worries and concerns about their children and the negative emotional consequences they must suffer. It’s for this reason that I decided to highlight this book on my blog and SDE magazine in the hopes that it will help those of you who are going through a divorce to find a comforting resource within the pages of this book.

The author used a beautiful poem that is easily understood by children while being intricate enough for adults to appreciate the innate beauty in the words themselves. This story is meant to help parents in their quest to ease their children into that transition from one household to two. I highly recommend this children’s book to all families everywhere.

20 Twitter Hashtags Every Author Needs To Get Followers

A.S. Chung B&WPosted by A.S. Chung.
Award-wining author of children’s picture books A Brand New Day: about divorce and Wishful Wedding: about LGBT equality and same gender families. Creator of Pigeonhole Books and blogs about self-publishing, writing, online book marketing, peer bloggers and illustrators.

20 TWITTER HASHTAGS EVERY AUTHOR NEEDS TO GET FOLLOWERS
ONLINE BOOK MARKETING TIP
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Apart from utilising Twitter to promote your self-published book/s to potential readers, every author should also be using Twitter to connect with other authors. This is a fantastic platform to help one another cross promote each other’s books and capitalise on each other’s database of followers. Here are the top 20 hashtags to get you going.

1) #amwriting
A Twitter hashtag created by Johanna Harness in 2009 and is short for “I am writing”. This hashtag was created for the writing community who wish to create conversations and share ideas during their writing process.

2) #amediting
Created in the same vein as #amwriting, it is a hashtag used by authors who are going through the motions of revising their work.

3) #ff
This hashtag denotes Follow Friday and is used specially to cross promote other authors and writers by recommending them to your followers.

4) #fridayreads
A day dedicated for reading! All authors are readers too and it is a great way to show support for your fellow author’s books. It also creates a sense of community as you are helping them promote their books across your social media platform. Hopefully this will be reciprocated.

5) #IARTG
This is the Hashtag for Indie Author Retweet Group. Simply follow this group on Twitter to join, and then add #IARTG in any tweet you want them to re-tweet.

6) #indieauthor or #indiepub
Used to identify oneself as a self-published author.

7) #indiethursday
Dedicated specifically to independent booksellers, readers use this hashtag upon visiting such bookstores or have made a purchase, on Thursday. This is a great way for self-published authors to make a list of these indie bookstores.

8) #kidlitchat
Calling all authors, writers, bloggers, readers, illustrators, teachers and librarians! Essentially this hashtag is for anyone interested in children’s literature. This occurs every Tuesday night at 9 PM Eastern/6 PM Pacific time.

9) #litchat
Created by litchat.net, here is what it’s about “LitChat is a fun, fast, and friendly way for booklovers to talk about books on Twitter. We chat on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays at 4-5 pm (est). Read the LitChat blog to see what we are chatting about each week. Each week we have Topic of the Week, which is drawn from a recently released book whose author appears in #litchat during our Friday chat. On Monday and Wednesday, we have open chat relating to that Topic of the Week.”

10) #Mondayblogs
Publish your blog post on Monday and bloggers will help you retweet.

11) #mswl
Manuscript Wishlist is the most important hashtag for all authors. Used by editors and literary agents searching for specific manuscripts. It could be yours!

12) #MyWANA
WANA stands for We Are Not Alone, created by author Kristen Lamb who advocates building a community of writers. At one point in her writing career, she never felt more alone. Hence she created a community where writers encourage and help each other through the writing process.

13) #nanowrimo
National Novel Writing Month is most widely known for the event it sponsors each November that encourages its participants to write a complete, 50,000-word novel during the 30 days of that month. The motto of NaNoWriMo is “Your Story Matters” and participants are known as “Wrimos.”

14) #novelines
This hashtag is used when you quote from a book, which could either from your own or others.

15) #PBLitChat
Hashtag specifically for picture books only.

16) #poetrymonth
“Inaugurated by the Academy of American Poets in 1996, National Poetry Month, held every April, is the largest literary celebration in the world with schools, publishers, libraries, booksellers, and poets celebrating poetry’s vital place in our culture.” This hashtag encourages poets to hold poetry events, write poetry and share their works.

17) #shortreads
Used to relate to anything to do with short stories with particularly heavy usage in May during the National Short Story Month.

18) #teasertuesday and #samplesunday
Tuesday and Sunday are the traditional days to show the world a small sample or snippet of your writing. This hashtag will help readers find you and your works. This is a great way to promote an upcoming book.

19) #writerwednesday
This is a generic hashtag for all writers and authors to utilise on hump day. It can be used to tweet about writing, promoting your book, connecting with other authors or provide literary advice.

20) #writingtip
A hashtag with an offer of writing tips by writing coaches, fellow authors and editors. A great way to get those creative juices flowing should you be experiencing writers block or just for a little inspiration.