Author and Illustrator Interview: Maria Knier

The BezertTHE BEZERT BY MARIA KNIER

1) Please provide a short excerpt of what your children’s book is about.
 The Bezert is a unique, imaginative and poetic parable about the value of trust. The main character, Bezert, has never left the safety and comfort of his island home. But when a box magically appears below his window, it proves too tempting not to take a look. By entering the box, the Bezert begins a journey of self-discovery in a dreamlike world of unknowns and mysterious inhabitants. Ultimately expanding the view of himself, his world and learning the value of trusting himself.

2) What inspired you to write this book?
I was working as a freelance editorial illustrator when I created this book many years ago. At the time I also had just begun studying Ayurveda, a timeless   healing philosophy and sister science to Yoga. This book was inspired by a combination of other books I was reading at the time based on universal truths. I first created 8-10 illustrations based on these concepts, spread them on the floor of my studio and sat down to write about each one of them. The end result was the outline and origin of  The Bezert.

3) Why did you pick this genre? How did you come to be a children’s picture book author?
I have always considered myself to be a ‘conceptual communicator’. In other words, I love to take words, stories or verses and bring them to life in a visual way. This book is the result of the interplay between my own writings and my own visual interpretations. I really decided I wanted to be ‘an artist” when I was about 4 or 5 years old so that has been a pretty solid path for me, but although I have always enjoyed writing, I never really considered myself to be ‘a writer’. Now in hindsight, the combination seems perfectly appropriate! I also consider this book to be appropriate for “kids of all ages”. Although it appears to be for children, adults sometimes need colorful illustrations and poetic verse to help tap into their creative side as well.

4) Tell us about the illustrations. What is your style and how did the artwork come to be? What inspired you?
I have always been drawn to a mixed media type style. Collage was my medium of choice in art school and the more I worked, my style morphed into a collage/mixed media combination. I like to use as many tools as I can get my hands on. It keeps things fresh and interesting for me and I doubt that will ever change. Most of my work is still done by hand because it wouldn’t feel right if I couldn’t get my hands dirty and work with paint and pencils, but I also enjoy the polish of digital media and the ease of integrating pictures and images into hand rendered work.

5) As a child, what books and/or authors influenced you the most and why?
I have always loved C.S. Lewis/Alice in Wonderland, Roald Dahl/Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, L. Frank Baum/Wizard of Oz and especially everything by Madeline L’Engle. A Wrinkle In Time is one of my all time favorites! All of these books opened up my world and conjured a certain special magical quality within me. It is what has inspired me and has helped me to create a healthy creative process.

6) Tell us about your audio book campaign for The Bezert.
As of October 21st, 2015 we have officially released the audio book version of The Bezert! It has been a long road to get here as we started work on the audio book shortly after The Bezert was published one full year ago. I had no trouble finding a brilliant narrator almost immediately. He was an artist ‘friend of a friend’ from Santa Barbara with the perfect voice, great character skills and a strong desire to narrate a book. We began work in the studio shortly before I learned that my publisher was going out of business and needed to close their doors. Needless to say, I then ran into some challenges with the many other extra financial expenses necessary to keep The Bezert promotion alive. After just coming off of winning 2 indie book awards in NY, and a fantastic book tour event in CA, I realized I was tapped out and needed to start an Indiegogo campaign in order to raise enough funds to complete the Audio Book project. I humbly asked 30 friends and supporters to play small roles in a video I produced and we pulled together a fabulous campaign earning over 60% of the necessary funds to complete the project and finalize the music & studio contracts. Through this process I wholeheartedly learned the importance of support, collaboration and trust.

7) What is the most fulfilling thing about being an author?
I really love the opportunity to go to schools and read to classrooms. Each experience is unique but always inspiring. I have yet to come home without being artfully challenged in some way by the kids, their fabulous questions and their insightful comments.

I also have really enjoyed each of the different creative events we have put together to bring The Bezert further in to the public eye. We have had dramatic readings by kids wearing masks, circus type events with actors miming along with the audio version, social media campaigns with people taking pictures of Bezert all over the world, and someday I’d love to create an interactive art experience where people can walk through an installation of the book and be fully immersed in the sensory experience through sight, sound, scent and touch.

8) What do you hope children will take away with them after reading your book/s?
I hope this book inspires children (and adults) to dig deep into their own creativity. I hope it challenges them emotionally and gets them to think about concepts bigger than themselves. I also hope it gives them the reassurance that they too can write their own story and share it with the world in their own special way. And in the end maybe they will learn to trust just a little more, in both themselves and the greater world.

9) What advice do you have for aspiring author and illustrators on how to navigate this world of publishing?
Although it is a nine month process in itself, the actual act of publishing a book is just a very small part of the picture. The bigger job comes when you need to tirelessly promote yourself and your book at every given opportunity for as long as you possibly can. The thing I have found to be helpful is to use as much creativity as you can when you do this. To try not to seek out the way that your book fits in, but rather find out how it stands apart from the rest and market yourself from that platform. If it is a book filled with flowers, market to unique gift stores and garden shops, if it is about animals, find creative ways to talk to businesses who work with animals, humane society events, farms etc. In a bookstore you are just one book among thousands, but standing alone you can get much more positive attention and help build awareness in the process. And then never, never give up. Make the book your passion. Embrace it and intuitively follow every possible opportunity that presents itself.

10) What are you working on now?
I always have a few irons in the fire, but my main project after nearly a year of promoting The Bezert, is getting back in the studio and illustrating a second book in this series. Many years ago when I wrote The Bezert, I also penned a sequel. My next project is to illustrate and publish the second part of Bezert’s journey. As I said at the end of the first book…”Not The End” now I need to follow through on that promise.

Maria Knier

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

Website: Maria Knier
Where to purchase her book: Indiebound, Amazon and Barnes & Noble
Maria’s social media connections:

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Author & Illustrator Interview: Carin Bramsen

Just A Duck by Carin BramsenJUST A DUCK? BY CARIN BRAMSEN

1) Please provide a short excerpt of what your children’s book is about.
Duck has decided to be a cat, and tries to show his good friend, Cat, that he’s just like her. He strives gamely to climb a tree, but when his best efforts fail him, his confidence begins to ebb. In an attempt to cheer him, Cat accidentally lands in deep water, where they both learn just how lucky they are that Duck is a duck. This book is a sequel to Hey, Duck!, told in rhyming dialogue.

2) What inspired you to write this book?
A mental image of Duck trying to slink like his friend, Cat, was the first spark for Just a Duck. I already had a strong sense of Duck’s character from my previous book, Hey, Duck!. He is wildly enthusiastic, inclined to silliness, but with some instinctive wisdom, too. I could imagine his giving his all to being a cat, and struggling to prove it when challenged. I sympathized, suspecting this new goal might not serve him well – and that’s when I thought there might be a story in it.

3) What do you hope children will take away with them after reading your book?
I’d love to help kids understand there are many, many different ways to shine, all eminently worthwhile.

4) How did you come to write and illustrate and why did you pick this genre?
My first picture book project was illustrating The Yellow Tutu, by my sister, Kirsten Bramsen. From then on, I was hooked on the possibilities and demands of the picture book form: the dance of words and images to tell a story, and the challenge of doing so in such a short space.

5) When you have an idea for a new book, what comes first? The words or the illustrations and what is your process of putting them together?
So far, my books have all started with a nascent sense of a scenario and a feeling for the characters involved. That might come to me with some words or an image attached, but at first it’s more about the general dynamics and where they might lead.

From there, words, images and plot ideas arrive, higgledy-piggledy – during a walk or shower or some household chore. I usually jot or sketch whatever pops up, knowing the selection and sorting will come later. At some point early on, I set up sixteen two-page spread templates in Photoshop. This will become my working dummy: the sketched version of the book. I scan sketches in, alter or move them as the story evolves, or sketch directly into the computer with a digital stylus and tablet. I can type right on the Photoshop dummy page – that’s sometimes where I write and rewrite the story. Words and pictures continually change and inform each other as I develop the book.

6) As a child, what books and/or authors/illustrators influenced you the most and why?
My first book love was Dr. Seuss. Oh, the places he drew! I felt he threw the world wide open with his wild spaces and infinite invention. I still want books to do that for me.

7) What is the most fulfilling thing about being an author?
The most fulfilling by far is hearing that a child enjoys my book, and feeling that maybe I’ve added a little happiness to someones life. I also relish the first stages of writing and sketching a book – that primal buzz when something new begins to take shape.

8) Describe your illustration style and when did you realise you could make a living from your talent?
My published illustrations so far are brightly colored, with tangible-looking textures and volumes. Recently, I’ve been playing around with a more linear style. Regardless of style, I love most to show character through expressions and movement. As to the second half of the question, I’m still trying to figure that out.

9) What are you working on now?
I’m now working on the third Duck and Cat book for Random House, as well as some other seedling projects.

THCarin BramsenANK YOU FOR LETTING US GETTING TO KNOW YOU!
Should you wish to know more about Carin Bramsen and would like to purchase her book, here are all her pertinent details.

Website: Carin Bramsen
Where to purchase her book: Amazon, Indie Bound and Barnes & Noble
Carin’s social media connections:

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Have you Joined The Goodreads Author Program Yet?

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.

HAVE YOU JOINED THE GOODREADS AUTHOR PROGRAM YET?
ONLINE BOOK MARKETING TIP
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Goodreads Otis Chandler

Otis Chandler Goodreads Founder by Christopher Michel

As an author, I am sure you have joined Goodreads as part of your online marketing strategy. Known as the Facebook for book lovers, it is an extremely  large digital library that every author should be a part of.

Now that you have navigated your way through the website, please venture your way to the bottom of the page and click on Author Program. If you haven’t already set this up, please take some time to do so. As it is a site which is dedicated to all things books, it is an invaluable tool to take advantage of it. It is completely free so you have absolutely no excuse!

It is important because under all the books listed on Goodreads, there is an option to click on the name of the author to find out more about you. You need to make sure you give them a dynamic snapshot of you so that curious readers can get to know you.

Features available in the Author Program:

  • Create a profile by adding a photo of yourself that best reflects you as an author. I suggest a fairly professional looking image and not one that is cropped from a family photo.
  • Write a compelling bio about yourself. Only limited by your imagination!
  • This feature enables you to share with your fans what you are currently reading. Makes for a good conversation piece.
  • This feature also allows you to list your favourite books.  Avid readers can form opinions about your personality just by the books you read.
  • You can advertise any upcoming events such as book launches, readings or book signings.
  • You can share a small excerpt of your book to entice readers.
  • If you maintain a blog, you can add it to your profile for greater exposure. All posts on your blog will automatically be uploaded on your profile so no additional work required.
  • You can add the Goodreads Author Widget to your website or blog to showcase all your hard earned reviews.
  • Promote your books by participating in discussions that may be relevant to the book genre or topic.

A.S. Chung Goodreads Author Page

There is no harm in joining this program. According to Goodreads, they are the world’s largest site for book readers and book recommendations. With over 20 million users and now acquired by Amazon, it is a truly useful site to be a part of.

Illustrator Interview: Stephan Lomp

Stephan LompPROFESSIONAL BIO:
Stephan was born in Düsseldorf, Germany, where he studied visual communications at the University of Applied Sciences. Stephan has been drawing for print and web agencies, publishing houses and event marketing companies since 1996 and is very fond of the diversity of his profession. Stephan published his first children’s book in 2011 which became the starting point for his new found passion, to write and draw his own stories.

1) How did you become an illustrator of children’s books after having a professional career drawing for print and web agencies, publishing houses and event marketing companies?
Wimmelbücher are picture books with crowded scenes and are very popular in Germany. I was very fascinated with them at a very young age and the images of artists like Ali Mitgutsch are branded in my mind. Comparable to these books outside of Germany are probably only the Where is Waldo? books. I saw that a befriended illustrator published a wimmelbuch at a brand new publisher which was specialized on these books. So I wrote a quick email to the publisher and got a chance to do a 4 spread book. It became a success and 2 other books followed. These books gained the attention of a UK Agent and after signing up with them I got the chance to do 3 more books for the UK market. The books took over my work time until I basically do only books now.

2) Describe your illustration style and creative process. What makes your illustrations unique and different?
It’s hard to describe what you do subconsciously. I would say it’s colorful, bright, joyful and a bit edgy. The form of the characters are stylized and abstracted. I try to mix my influences of 50s and 60s flat shape illustrations with my personal twist.

3) Has technology changed your trade and the way you work?
My pencil drawing are very different to my digital art. I could not do my digital style analogously. My work is much more clean and crisper, which I try to break up again and make it look more handmade lately.

4) Who are your biggest influences in your artistic career and why?
This changes through the years. It used to be Comic Books from Europe as well as the US, artists like Möbius and Frank Miller, then Chris Ware and now it’s old school children’s books from Alain Gree as well as contemporary artists like Marc Boutavant.

5) When did you realise you could make a living from your talent?
This was always my intention to live from my talent, so I took every job I could find, even during my studies. And that includes everything in Graphic Design,  Webdesign and Programming.

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?
It is key to talk to the client via telephone or in person. Only that way you can fully understand what they want. A lot of things can be misunderstood if you only communicate via email.

7) Tell us about the proudest piece of work you have done.
There is one image of a walking tree and a small boy walking through a dark forest. The illustration was done pretty quickly and without much thinking, but the reaction was huge, because everybody can see a story in there. I am currently working on it and hopefully this will be a book one day.

8) What advice do you have for aspiring illustrators when first dealing with a publishing house?
If they have a script for you ask yourself if you really like it and if you really want to tell the story through pictures. If you have your own story, they will try to tweak it here and there. This can be a good thing and it can improve your work. But always ask yourself, is it still fun to draw and is it still your story at heart. Lastly take a close look at the contract. Do you get enough out of this? And do not work without getting royalties, because that’s your real payment in the long term.

9) Please provide a short brief of each of the pictures you have submitted
Follow That Car – the mouse following the gorilla on a big red background is a eye-catching image I am really proud of.

Follow That Car

Find The Frog – the park scene is a lot more colorful than my work before.

Find The Frog

Mamasaurus – this image was done just as a quick scribble and gained enough attention from a publisher so that I did a whole picture book around it.

Mamasaurus

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

Website: Stephan Lomp
Stephan’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
ONLINE BOOK MARKETING TIP
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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.

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.

Illustrator Interview: Keika Yamaguchi

Keika Yamaguchi

PROFESSIONAL BIO:
Keika Yamaguchi is a children’s book illustrator of Sick of Being Sick written by Justin Sullivan, and Puddle Pug written by Kim Norman. Her newly illustrated book that came out this June is What About Moose? written by Corey Rosen Schwartz and Rebecca Gomez. She is a graduated from Pasadena Art Center College of Design with honors. She studied Entertainment Arts, and work for clients including Walt Disney Imagineering and Walt Disney Publishing.

1) How did you become an illustrator of children’s books or similar works?
A friend of a friend, Justin Sullivan, was looking for an illustrator for the story he wrote. He owned a children’s app company, and at the time, there were only few companies that specialized in phone apps for children. I enjoyed the story that he came up with since it allowed me to illustrate variety of environments. While working on that book, I rediscovered my passion for children’s books. After self publishing that book, I was going to bookstores to see if people will be interested in having my book in their stores. I was then referred to checkout Society of Children’s Books for Writers and Illustrators. I went to one of the events and there, I was immersed into this industry.

2) Describe your illustration style and creative process. What makes your illustrations unique and different?
It’s hard for me to identify what exactly makes my work mine and how it appears different from other people’s artwork. I enjoy placing my focus on characters, the layout of the pages, and the amount of details I place in each page. Perhaps that makes my illustration distinct.

3) When did you realise you could make a living from your talent?
When I was in highschool I have done multiple art competitions and won few awards. That games be confidence that maybe I can get somewhere with this talent. A  teacher outside of my school made living out of doing art, so convinced me that it’s probably possible to make a living pursuing art.

4) Has technology changed your trade and the way you work?
Yes, technology has changed the way I work. It has added few short cuts for me compared to illustrating traditionally that been coming in handy when under tight deadline. Sending my artwork to clients became much easier when painting or drawing using photoshop. I do not have to scan my work and alter the colors in the scanned image to match what I have in my traditional artwork. I don’t have to go to the post office, wrap my work, then send my originals to my client in NY.

5) Who are your biggest influences in your artistic career and why?
At the moment, my biggest influences are my peers at my coworking place–Kleverdog. People there are either self employed, small business owners, trying their best to maintain their business. They’re full of passion and we share openly of what’s working for us what isn’t. Every time I talk to someone I feel inspired to work harder and keep going.

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?
Usually, before getting hired to be the illustrator, the publishing company that I would be working for would ask to draw or paint the main character in the book. The feel of the book is usually determined at that stage. If there are details that they would like for me to depict in the book, there are usually artist notes included when they provide me with the final manuscript so I make sure I put in what they asked.

7) Tell us about the proudest piece of work you have done. Did you enjoy working on Puddle Pug and its subsequent book by the same publisher?
Each illustrations within those books had it’s own challenges that I had to solve. Knowing that I’ve done my best with all of them, I’m proud of all the pieces I‘ve illustrated. I enjoyed working on all of the books I’ve illustrated too!

8) What advice do you have for aspiring illustrators?
I always feel weird giving advice since I feel like I’m still learning…Perhaps “Don’t forget to have fun! And do it for you.”

9) Please provide a short brief of each of the pictures you have submitted
A spread of Sick of Being Sick by Justin Sullivan

Sick of Being Sick

A spread of Puddle Pug by Kim Norman

Puddle Pug

A spread of What About Moose by Corey Rosen Schwartz and Rebecca J. Gomez

What About Moose

Should you wish to know more about Keika, here are her pertinent details.

Website: Keika Yamaguchi
Keika’s social media connections:

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Author Interview: Beth Ferry

STICK AND STONE BY BETH FERRY Stick and Stone by Beth Ferry

1) Please provide a short excerpt of what your children’s book is about.
Stick and Stone is a short, rhyming story about friendship.

2) What inspired you to write this book? Did it take you long to translate your idea into words and subsequently into a book?
A song by the band Train, called “Drops of Jupiter” was the inspiration behind Stick and Stone. There is a line in the song about friends sticking up for one another and that sparked the idea of a stick sticking up for a friend, namely, a stone. Friendship is a common theme in picture books, but an important one. I began writing the story in prose and wasn’t having much success. When I switched to rhyme, the story developed quickly.

3) Why did you pick this genre and how did you come to be a writer?
I chose to write picture books because of their beauty and importance to the youngest of readers. I also think picture books transcend age ranges and can speak to people of every age. I love the bond they offer parent and child. I’ve always loved to write, but I became a write in 2011 when I challenged myself to write a picture book that was under 200 words. That was the genesis for Stick and Stone.

4) How do the illustrations complement your book? What was important to you as an author?
Well, the illustrations of Stick and Stone are phenomenal!! Tom Lichtenheld created characters are that sweet and cuddly and utterly perfect – quite an achievement for a stick and a stone. His illustration process shows the extreme care and time he put into making the illustrations a perfect match for the text. I couldn’t be happier!

5) As a child, what books and/or authors influenced you the most and why?
The picture books I remember loving the most are Maurice Sendak’s Nutshell Library. As a child I adored miniatures and so this tiny set of books was right up my alley. I had every story memorized. I also loved Miriam Young’s Miss Suzy. I think the dollhouse aspect also appealed to my love of miniatures.  As I grew up, I read all the classics – Nancy Drew, Little House on the Prairie, Anne of Green Gables and A Wrinkle in Time.

6) What is the most fulfilling thing about being an author? Do you have any words of wisdom for aspiring children’s authors?
Having a child tell me they love my book are some of the sweetest words I’ve heard. It floors me every time. Interacting with children at schools and bookstores is the most fulfilling aspect of being a children’s book author. The kids themselves are the best reward for being a picture book author. There are so many wonderful blogs that give advice to kidlit writers. My advice is to join SCBWI, and to check out taralazar.com, kathyteam.wordpress.com, and lauriewallmark.blogspot.com. Also, to write, write and then write some more. Don’t give up. This business requires a supreme amount of patience.

7) What do you hope children will take away with them after reading your book? What do your children think of it?
I hope they will see how good friendships require a bit of effort and that friends help each other – it’s not a one-way street. I hope they also see that we all might act like Pinecone now and again, but it’s important to forgive those prickly characters in our lives. My children are all teenagers, but happily, they love the book. There’s nothing better than overhearing them tell their friends that their mom wrote a book.

8) What are you working on now? We wait with great anticipation!
My next book, Land Shark, is being released on August 4, 2015. As I’m waiting for that, I’m working on a few stories involving a scarecrow and an alligator, but not in the same story. Although that might be interesting . . . Thanks for asking!

THBeth FerryANK YOU FOR LETTING US GETTING TO KNOW YOU!
Should you wish to know more about Beth Ferry and would like to purchase her book, here are all her pertinent details.

Website: Beth Ferry
Where to purchase her book: Amazon, Barnes & Noble and Indie Bound
Beth’s social media connections:

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Wishful Wedding: Amazon Giveaway!

WW CoverPigeonhole Book is giving away 2 hard cover copies of Wishful Wedding: A Pocketful of Pride, an LGBTQ children’s picture book about same gender marriage equality.

SYNOPSIS:
Papa’s sister is getting married today! Daddy and I get ready, a flower girl I am. We witness in delight and giggle with glee but deep down in our hearts, we’re sad you see? When will my fathers be able to wed? I can only hope for change, in the future ahead.

Should you reside in the US, click here for a chance to win a copy! Competition ends August 24, 2015 11:59 PM PDT.

 

 

How To Build A Mailing List And Why It’s So Important

imageedit_2_4172062803Guest Posting by C.J. Anaya.
C.J. Anaya is the author of The Healer Series and Double Booked. She is also an avid book blogger, an obsessed fan of The Mindy Project, and an accomplished binge eater of any and all things chocolate.

HOW TO BUILD A MAILING LIST AND WHY ITS SO IMPORTANT
ONLINE BOOK MARKETING TIP
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Diary Planning

Business Planning by abductit

I want to thank A.S. Chung for letting me jump on her blog and post about a topic that will hopefully help other authors who are struggling with the ins and outs of marketing. Rather than talk about several marketing strategies at once, I think it best to learn one thing at a time.

Let’s talk about a mailing list, what it is, and how to get started.

Amazon offers a great venue for selling your products and getting noticed, but Amazon doesn’t offer you a way to keep in contact with all of the people who have purchased your products. How are you going to let those purchasers know about new releases or exciting news concerning your author journey?

You have them subscribe to your mailing list. Anytime you need to let your fans know about important information concerning your books you can use your mailing list to broadcast that info to all of your subscribers at once.

If you haven’t built that list yet, get started immediately. It will be one of the most important things you ever do. More important than all of the time you spend on various social media sites combined.

Yeah. I said it.

More important than social media!

It is the best tool to implement in order to build a following and spread news fast.

So how do you get started?

You need to find a great marketing program that can oversee the distribution of your information to all of the subscribers on your list.

There are many programs to choose from. Research the one that’s best for you. The one I work with is called AWeber. I am not a graphic designer so AWeber is very user friendly. They give you templates where you can create opt-in forms and copy and paste the html codes for those forms onto your website. You can offer people incentives for subscribing, and then use AWeber to redirect them to their online incentive once they have confirmed their subscription.

Aweber Mailing List

Aweber Mailing List

For example, I offer a free chapter of The Healer for my subscribers. Then I send a follow-up email with a link to my free short story, My Fair Assassin, to thank them for subscribing. You do not have to be tech savvy to do this because AWeber walks you through it with tutorials and customer support. Another bonus to this is linking your blog feed to your emails. If you want your subscribers to receive your blog posts this is a very effective way to manage that option.

Let’s recap. An email list is good for authors. AWeber is just one of the many programs out there that can help you manage your list. Feel free to research other programs. Start building your list as soon as possible. As an author you simply cannot be without it.

For those of you who already have a list and an opt-in form, these tips will help you drive more traffic to your blog or website and facilitate more subscribers.

  • Put your opt-in form on the top of your side bar next to your blog page, on top of your other web pages, and on top of your “about” page. Seriously, do it
  • Offer subscription opportunities within your posts. In other words, put in a little opt-in form or a link to your subscribe page at the bottom of your posts
  • Create a subscribe page if you don’t have one. Here is an example of a great subscribe page. Okay, I’m super biased because it is my subscribe page. Ha!
  • Put a link to your subscribe page next to your opt-in form so that people can read all of the reasons why they should subscribe to your blog or webpage
  • Encourage followers to forward your posts to others who might be interested in the material you’ve posted.

I hope you found this information helpful. Good luck to all of you wonderful authors out there!