Illustrator Interview: Alison Edgson

Alison EdgsonPROFESSIONAL BIO:
Alison Edgson was born in County Down in Northern Ireland. She worked in the computer department of a bank before studying Visual Communication at the University of Ulster in Belfast. After graduating with a First, she and her husband Jeff moved to an old chapel in the Usk Valley in Wales where she now paints and illustrates children’s books and greetings cards. She spends most of her free time trying to tame the tangle of Welsh hillside that is her ‘garden’, indulging the cat and walking her two energetic Labradors, and loves running and generally getting involved in village life.

1) How did you become an illustrator of children’s books or similar works?
It was a career change after 15 years working in the bank in IT – I got voluntary redundancy and took the opportunity to fulfil a long held dream to go to Art College. I completed a foundation year, followed by a 3 year honours degree in Visual Communication at the University of Ulster, graduating with a first in 2000. After that we moved to Wales and I started to pick up illustration work here and there until my agent Advocate offered to represent me. I’ve illustrated lots of children’s books since then and still love what I do – I’m very lucky!

2) Describe your illustration style and creative process. What makes your illustrations unique and different?
My work is colourful and usually quite atmospheric and I also hope it’s humorous – that’s what I strive for. I work in acrylics with coloured pencils at the moment but am always trying to develop and try new things and am currently working on a new style which is really challenging me as it is very different and fresh and right out of my comfort zone!

3) When did you realise you could make a living from your talent?
Really not until I began to get real offers of work – before that I hoped I could but never felt confident that it would work out as I knew there was a lot of competition in the field.

4) Has technology changed your trade and the way you work?
I’ve always used a computer to some extent with my work although it is painted in a traditional way. My work is reproduced digitally and I am comfortable with using traditional methods as a starting point for an illustration that can be worked on further in Photoshop if necessary. Coming from an IT background I’m okay with that and technology is useful for me in other ways too – simplifying the early stages of a project and reducing the need to dash to the post office with bundles of artwork every week!

5) Who are your biggest influences in your artistic career and why?
My family were all artistic especially my Mum who was able to draw horses beautifully – such a tricky subject! My Dad used to do big funny posters for his am-dram society too.

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?
Once I’ve read their words (and I nearly always love the stories and get very excited when I read them for the first time) I try to  trust my instincts as I can usually visualise the story as I read it. Getting it down as I see it is the challenge!

7) Tell us about the proudest piece of work you have done.
I was very chuffed to win the Picture Book category of the Red House Children’s Book Awards for Yuck, That’s not a Monster – it was especially nice as the winning books were chosen entirely by children, and I got to meet Michael Morpurgo at the award ceremony!

8) What advice do you have for aspiring illustrators?
Try to find out as much as you can about the industry and keep up to date with what’s popular – there’s lots of good information in the annual Writers and Artists yearbooks, and the Association of Illustrators is well worth joining to get free portfolio consultations and they run workshops and offer useful publications on the business side of things as well.

9) Please provide a short brief of each of the pictures you have submitted.
This is a spread from Waiting for Santa – I loved painting this atmospheric scene where the friends settle down in the snow and hope that Santa will see their tree and bring them presents

Waiting for Santa

This illustration is from I Want my Mummy, the challenge here was to make an interesting, warm and colourful bedroom scene and as it was the opening spread for the book to introduce the characters of Arthur and his mummy. Adding the little details – the toys and the décor are the fun part!

I Want my Mummy

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

Website: Alison Edgson
Alison’s social media connections:

 Linked-In-icon

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:

social-facebook-box-blue-icon Linked-In-icon Active-Instagram-3-icon

Author Interview: Hazel Edwards

SLEUTH ASTRID; LOST VOICE OF THE GRAND FINAL BY HAZEL EDWARDS Sleuth Astrid - Lost Voice of The Grand Final by Hazel Edwards

1) Please provide a short excerpt of what your children’s book is about.
Sleuth Astrid, a hi-tech, mind-reading chook rides a Harley, plays e-games and finds lost things. Illustrated (with visual clues) by Jane Connory, this e-version of the original popular print book includes a new story The Lost Voice of the Grand Final.

In Book 1, The Mind Reading Chook, the Magician has lost his sense of humour. Astrid must find that before the 3pm show.

In Book 2, The Lost Voice of the Grand Final, Astrid has to find the Voice of the Coach in time for the Saturday Grand Final. Was the Voice captured in the TV ‘Footy’ studio? Lost down his throat? Was a Voice Coach any use? What about the Speakeasy? or the Voice-over on the TV Footy panel or on Talk-back? And then there’s the Bird Wedding of the Year. Carrot was supposed to be the MC (Master of Ceremonies) As usual, Sleuth Astrid the Mind-Reading Chook, solves the problem.

2) What inspired you to write this book?
When staying at Varuna, the writers’ retreat in the Blue Mountains, I was introduced to a ‘chook’ who used to belong to a stage magician. They said the chook could mind-read and was part of the magician’s act. I believe in observation, not mind reading,so thought the chook could become a very observant sleuth. So Astrid has unusual things to find, like a lost sense of humour.

3) What do you hope children will take away with them after reading your book?
That it’s ok to see things differently. Use your imagination.

4) With your picture books, how do you ensure the message of your book is conveyed succinctly through to the illustrations and how do you ensure it is a smooth and productive collaboration?
I choose an illustrator like Jane Connory, who has a quirky sense of humour. I don’t always have a ‘message’ but I like to encourage unusual problem-solving. Creativity depends upon putting together things which have not been in that combination before.

5) Tell us about some of your extra challenges you have experienced in pitching controversial subjects for junior books.
f2m;the boy within the YA novel about coming of age and transitioning gender from female to male has been the most controversial for the subject, not the way we wrote the book. Check out the Youtube clip which interviews us as co-authors. Ryan Kennedy, my co-author is an ftm. And a family friend.

Currently I’m writing a junior chapter series Hijabi Girl , with a Muslim children’s librarian Ozge. Our character is s feisty 8 year old girl who wears a hijab and starts an Aussie Rules girls team. Plus there’s Rastus Rastus the Reading rat, soccer-mad Zac and the new girl who cartoons everybody. Just a fun school-based  story.

Feymouse about a large and clumsy cat born into a family of highly talented mice is a different way of showing how to cope with being different. Now a picture book app on Itunes but previously a rock pop musical and a print book.

6) What is the most fulfilling thing about being an author?
That your book may go into the lives of readers and let them be a little more tolerant of others who are coping successfully with being different. PLUS be an enjoyable read.

7) Tell us about your adventure to Casey Station in the Antarctic and how that inspired you into writing your YA books.
As an expeditioner with the Australian Antarctic Division, I became beset in the polar ice when our ship got stuck en route to Casey Station. So lucky to be with some of the greatest experts on Antarctica who all wanted to talk to me and helped me plot the YA novel Antarctica’s Frozen Chosen and the other plays and books. We did get rescued after several weeks. Check out the ‘cool’ Antarctic stories here.

8) What are you working on now? 
My memoir ; Not Just a Piece of Cake: Being an Author

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

Website: Hazel Edwards
Where to purchase her book: Hazel Edwards and Port Campbell Press
Hazel’s social media connections:

social-facebook-box-blue-icon social-twitter-box-blue-icon Linked-In-icon 

How To Write An Effective Twitter Bio

A.S. ChungPosted 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 TO WRITE AN EFFECTIVE TWITTER BIO
ONLINE BOOK MARKETING TIP
###

Twitter Sand Sculpture

Twitter Sand Sculpture by Rosaura Ochoa

If Twitter is an important part of your social media marketing, it is imperative you introduce yourself to the world via an effective bio. I am constantly surprised by how many indie authors out there either don’t have a bio at all or don’t utilise the allotted space to their advantage. For me, that means they don’t take themselves or their books seriously and therefore, I won’t reward them with my attention.

When doing a search for yourself via search engines, your Twitter bio will allow you, in most cases, to appear on the first page.  It also lends credibility to you as an author and the message you are trying to convey.

TWITTER BIO PARTICULARS
You only have 160 characters to work with. Not a lot of characters to succinctly tell your life story and certainly does not provide anyone with the excuse of not filling up the given requirements.

Over and above the 160 characters, you can also add your location as well as a link to your website. Please add a backlink. It makes absolutely no business sense not to do so.

In your bio, you are permitted to add hashtags and @usernames.

Please add an image to your bio. The dreaded egg doesn’t do much for anyone.

SO HOW DO YOU WRITE AN EFFECTIVE BIO?
Be concise and accurate. Tell people exactly who and what you are. Use words that best describe you and your product. Tell the world you are an expert in what your do. Describe your niche.

Promote yourself so you can gain the right followers. Let them know what you have to offer them and flatter yourself!

Take advantage of hashtags in your bio. They are an excellent means of helping people find you and what you have to offer them.

List your speciality first before moving onto other facts that add that humanistic part of your bio. They first and foremost want to follow you for what you do best. This could include accomplishments that your followers could identify with.

Do some research of your peers and competitors. Look at the bios of people you yourself are following and look at what prompted you to follow them in the first place.

Be honest, unusual, funny and/or controversial!  Easier said than done I know, especially if you have a serious agenda to spruik.

Maintain your focus on what you are promoting. Keep the message consistent throughout your campaign.

If you don’t want to just mention what you are, you can mention what you will be tweeting about.

You don’t have to write your bio in sentences. Use punctuation to define your roles.

The most important thing to remember is that your bio is not set in stone when initially created. I have tweaked and re-tweaked my bio over numerous occasions. I have found that as I evolve over time, I gain a clearer perspective of who I am and what information is important.  Good luck!

Author Interview: Jake Taylor

Little Wing by Jake Taylor

LITTLE WING – WHO AM I? WHERE AM I? WHAT AM I? BY JAKE TAYLOR

1) Please provide a short excerpt of what your children’s book is about
Little Wing faces a big dilemma from the moment he was born. He has no idea of who he is, where he is, or for that matter what he is! He finds himself in Butterfly Forest and has no idea about what to do next; but lucky for him, he befriends Lou, a caterpillar, who advises him to seek Professor Moth and ask him. However, the professor lives deep in the forest where there are many dangers and Little Wing has to be very careful. That’s how the adventures of Little Wing start as he takes off in search of finding out who he is, where he is and what he is. At one moment, and rather hilariously, he actually thought that he was a bee and joins Bob and a group of bumblebees who are fetching nectar from flowers! He ends up terribly exhausted.

During his travels inside the forest, he faces great dangers especially when he crosses paths with a spider who invites him to jump on her ‘net’ (obviously a spider web). He also has to fly for his life when he is pursued by some birds. But at the end, after overcoming many obstacles, he finds the answers he sought. During his adventures, he also learns the importance of work, and of taking good care of our planet Earth because it is the only home we have.

2) What inspired you to write this book?
While studying English literature, a teacher told us that if we were writers we would be writing and not attending classes. That same night I dreamed about two stories: Little Wing – Who am I? Where am I? What am I? and one more about friendship that will be written in the future. The whole story came to me in a dream.

3) How did you come up with the title or series of your book?
One of the characters that Little Wing runs into in the forest is Mary, the Queen of Butterfly Forest who is a monarch butterfly and after looking at the small wings of the main character, she decides to name him: Little Wing.

4) Why did you pick this genre?
It was not really picked by me. As mentioned above, the story came to me in a dream and by its very nature, it is a children’s story recommended for children 3+ (if read to them) and for ages 6-8 / Kindergarten – Second Grade if they themselves read the eBook, which includes 14 full-colour illustrations.

5) How do the illustrations complement your book? What was important to you as an author?
I was extremely lucky in that my brother recommended a painter, illustrator, who happens to be a dentist. Her maiden name is Claudia Montero and she happens to be married to my nephew, Daniel Taylor. They have two lovely sons. She sent me her ideas for the illustrations for the book and I was enchanted by them. Readers have been very pleased with the illustrations as well because they reflect the story perfectly.

6) As a child, what books and/or authors influenced you the most and why?
As a child, I remember reading about half of the Jules Verne’s books. Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea, Around the World in Eighty Days, The Mysterious Island, etc., all of which I found fascinating because of the enormous amount of adventures in them.

7) What is the most fulfilling thing about being an author?
At present, I am writing the Fourth book of a Series entitled: Yah and the Space Cadets and what I find most intriguing is that I know where the story is going, but for some reason, have no idea as to what will happen to it when it gets there. It is similar to preparing an itinerary for a trip to Europe: You know where you are going, say: Greece, Italy, France, Spain and England, but have no idea of what will happen in those places once you get there. It is fascinating. Almost like going to the movies. I have been surprised many times by the twists and turns of my own stories. There is nothing better than that, although, sometimes I hit a wall and have no idea of what to write next. Then, that same night I have a dream of how to continue.

8) What do you hope children will take away with them after reading your book?
That we need to take good care of our environment, of our home, which is our planet; also about the importance of hard work, the appreciation of good friends, to be aware of the many dangers that we all face and to love animals.

9) Who is/are your favourite author/s as an adult and why?
There are several authors that I consider favourites, from Shakespeare, Cervantes, and many other classics, such as Plato and Seneca, to Emily Brontë’s  Wuthering Heights and Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s Adventures of Sherlock Holmes. I also read the seven books of the Harry Potter series. I really admire the work of Ms. J. K. Rowling. I also enjoy Jane Eyre of another Brontë sister.

10) What are you working on now?
Two Spheres – The Fourth Expedition of the above mentioned series of Yah and the Space Cadets. I hope to finish it within the next three or four months. The series is planned for seven volumes.

THJake TaylorANK YOU FOR LETTING US GETTING TO KNOW YOU!
Should you wish to know more about Jake Taylor and would like to purchase his book, here are all his pertinent details.

Website: Jake Taylor
Where to purchase his book: Amazon and Audible
Jake’s social media connections:

social-facebook-box-blue-icon social-twitter-box-blue-icon Goodreads-icon pinterest-icon

Blogger Interview: Natasha Peter

EPIC MOMMY ADVENTURES BY NATASHA PETER

PROFESSIONAL BIO: Epic Mommy Adventure by Natasha Peter
Natasha blogs over at Epic Mommy Adventures, where she shares her every day epic adventures as a single mom to her son, and shares tips for other single parents to navigate the ins and outs of parenthood. She is a contributor to the Mother of All Meltdowns, an anthology focused on the adult-sized meltdown, and a board member of the International Bloggers Association, which focuses on helping bloggers expand their audience by providing opportunities to share and be shared by other members of the community.

1) Tell us what your blog is about and what inspired its conception?
My blog is all about sharing the ins and outs of single parenthood – the frustrations, exciting moments, and lastly and most importantly, the incredible appreciation for being a mommy. I want to create an impact on those who read my blog, whether they are a single mom or not.

I started Epic Mommy Adventures back when a friend recommended that I started sharing my thoughts and experiences through blogging. I had been writing a journal for some time, but it was great to now share them with the world. And I haven’t looked back since.

2) Who is your ideal reader and what do you hope they can gain from your blog?
My ideal readers are moms – those who are going through a difficult time and concerned about parenting alone, those in happily married relationships but struggling with motherhood, any type of mother at all. I hope that they are able to know that they’re not alone. We can only get through it if we work through it together.

3) Where do you see your blog in 5 years’ time and will the topic continue to be as prevalent?
In 5 years, I hope that my blog continues to grow and evolve.  I hope to come up with a few interesting ideas to really make my blog a household name, while continuing to be myself. Being a mom will continue to be a prevalent topic; however, as life changes and evolves, I’m sure that my blog will change and evolve as well.

4) How do you continually find content for your blog?
Honestly, I find my best content from just living life, and reading other blogs. Most of the topics addressed on Epic Mommy Adventures, are those that I have specifically gone through myself or someone close to me has experienced. And reading other blogs allows me to answer some of my own questions and challenges and I use those thoughts to create blog posts that are based on my life.

5) How do you find the time and motivation to blog being a single mother, working full time and studying part time?
Honestly, it’s really hard to balance it all – I have to give my full attention to each of these facets of my life while keeping myself afloat. The time comes when it comes – I squeeze it in during breaks, late at night, early mornings, whenever I can. The motivation comes easily because I love each and every facets of my life – I LOVE being a mom and I love blogging, working to take care of my family, and studying to continue to support my family. So I just do it all – because I love them all.

6) Do you believe things happen for a reason?
Absolutely! I believe that everything happens for a specific reason. My life is an example of just that. Although I have been through so much in such a short life, I have come forward with a drive and resilience like no other. I couldn’t be who I am today if it wasn’t for the fact that all of these things had to happen to me. And I don’t regret anything, because it was supposed to happen.

7) Do you think you would have been a blogger (of any kind!) had you not gotten a divorced and gone through this life challenge?
I think I may have to clarify my welcome message. My son’s father is not my ex-husband. Actually, I met my son’s father while I was separated from my then husband. But a lot happened during a 4 year span – more than I could ever imagine.

Yes, I do believe that I was somewhat destined to become a blogger, so if it wasn’t for my life changing so drastically, it would have been for another reason. I had been reading blogs for some time when I started, so I think I would have inevitably wanted to start writing my own blog.

8) Do you have any advice for aspiring bloggers?
Oh, I have tons of advice for aspiring bloggers, but I have one important piece of advice that I’d like to share – Stay true to yourself. When you start your blog, you will want to imitate those who are successful in order for you in turn to become successful. But if this is not your true self, you will inevitably lose an interest in blogging. You will find it hard to keep up with the pace of trying to be someone you are not. So make sure to always stay true to yourself, and define your own success.

THANK YOU FOR LETTING US GETTING TO KNOW YOU!
Should you wish to know more about Natasha Peter and would like to follow her blog, here are all her pertinent details.

Blog: Epic Mommy Adventures
Natasha’s social media connections:

social-facebook-box-blue-icon social-twitter-box-blue-icon Linked-In-icon pinterest-icon Active-Instagram-3-icon

Blogger Interview: Mandy Walker

SSince My Divorce by Mandy WalkerINCE MY DIVORCE BY MANDY WALKER

PROFESSIONAL BIO:
English by birth, Mandy studied Business Administration at the University of Bath, England. In 1986 she emigrated to the United States and spent the next twenty years working in financial services. Of the many hats Mandy wore during that time, she was responsible for handling formal customer complaints and major service resolution issues giving her a solid foundation in dispute resolution.

With a change of career in mind, Mandy graduated in 2008 with a Masters in Journalism from the University of Colorado at Boulder. While pursuing her journalism studies, Mandy and her husband of seventeen years divorced and it was that experience that led to Mandy’s new career as a divorce coach and mediator.

Mandy is a member of the Mediation Association of Colorado, the Boulder County Bar Association and also serves on the Board of Children First of The Rockies, a non-profit that provides safe exchanges and supervised visits for children on the Front Range in Colorado

1) Tell us what your blog is about and what inspired its conception?
Since My Divorce, inspired by my own divorce, is collection of people’s stories about life after divorce, shared with the hope of making my readers’ own journeys a little easier, whether that comes from gaining a different perspective, growing in compassion, greater understanding or knowing they are not alone.

2) Who is your ideal reader and what do you hope they can gain from your blog?
My ideal reader is someone who is going through divorce whether it’s them or their spouse who initiated it or who is considering divorce and wants to know more about what to expect. I hope that my blog helps them on several levels. I hope the stories help them see that divorce is another life event that shouldn’t be stigmatized or judged. I hope they’ll find some practical solutions to the complexities of untangling from your spouse and I hope they’ll get the sense that they are not alone because divorce can be a very isolating time of your life.

3) Where do you see your blog in 5 years’ time and will the topic continue to be as prevalent in the same vein you have blogging about it?
I’d love for Since My Divorce to still be around in five years’ time – most blogs don’t make it past a couple of years and Since My Divorce has already been going for over five years. The need for divorce-related information certainly is not going to go away and I think people will still need to learn about the tools and skills for ending a significant relationship with dignity and respect.

4) How do you continually find content for your blog?
My blog is about sharing other people’s stories so the content comes mostly from interviews with other people. Very few people turn down an interview request – I think on a fundamental level we all like to help others and we like to feel we’re making a difference.

5) What opportunities has your blog provided you?
Starting my blog was part of my midlife transformation although I didn’t know it at the time. I’d spent 20+ years in customer service and operations in Financial Services when I took a severance from that job. I went back to school for journalism partly because I didn’t have any idea about what I wanted to do for the rest of life. That led to the blog which led to divorce coaching which then led to divorce mediation. Now I have a whole new career centered around helping others and that’s important to me.

6) Do you think there are enough resources out there for children of divorce? What do you think is missing or what can we improve on?
I think we need more resources specifically for children, rather than their parents, giving them tools and skills for renegotiating their relationships with their parents and siblings following divorce, how to love both parents without choosing and what they can do to avoid getting caught in the middle. The challenge is getting the resources to the children because often they are dependent on their parents for access. It would be great to create to an coaching program for children that could be delivered in school perhaps as an after-school program.

7) Why did you decide to create some free audio and how does that complement your blog?
The free audio programs are timeless content such as deciding if divorce is right for you, essential preparations for divorce and parenting after divorce. They really are the basics, the starting points for anyone who is ending their marriage and getting that information out is about helping people to get started on the journey. Frankly, it’s much easier for me to turn these teleconferences into audio programs than to keep organizing the teleconferences.

8) Tell us about My Divorce Pal
My Divorce Pal is an affordable, self-guided, online divorce coaching program created from the interviews for my blog. It covers five main areas: deciding to divorce, preparing for divorce, financial preparations, parenting and divorce, and self-care. In total there are over 50 different modules each of which comes with a worksheet so you can apply the message in the module to your specific situation. It’s a great learning tool.

Membership in the program gives access to all the modules which you can do in any order because, divorce is not a neat, orderly process as much as the law would like us to believe it does. I do firmly believe that you will easily save the cost of your membership through finding out more about divorce, making more informed decisions and making better use of the hired professionals on your team.

9) Do you have any advice for aspiring bloggers?
I don’t like to put anyone off blogging because it’s been such a great learning opportunity for me. Blogging about your divorce can be challenging since it can cause difficulties with your ex and privacy concerns for your children. That makes it hard to be authentic about what’s happening and if you can’t be authentic then you may be losing some of the therapeutic benefit of blogging. This leads many people to using a pseudonym and that’s probably the safest way to start. I still caution people though, especially if they’re still in the legal process. You absolutely do not want to jeopardize your parenting arrangement or financial settlement because of something you wrote in a moment of overwhelming emotion.

THANK YOU FOR LETTING US GETTING TO KNOW YOU!
Should you wish to know more about Mandy Walker and would like to follow her blog, here are all her pertinent details.

Blog: Since My Divorce
Mandy’s’s social media connections:

social-facebook-box-blue-icon  social-twitter-box-blue-icon  Linked-In-icon

 

 

 

Blogger Interview: Stacey James Wheeler

STEPDADDING BY STACEY JAMES WHEELER

PROFESSIONAL BIO:Stepdadding by Stacey James Wheeler
Stacey James Wheeler is a Family Dynamics Researcher, speaker and author. His work has been called “Insightful,” “Powerful” and “Valuable” by counsellors and family coaches. The focus of his research is the struggles of blended and step-families. The goal of his work is to help Stepdads succeed.

Wheeler is the founder of Stepdadding.com -the Information and Inspiration site for Stepdads- and is an active voice for family and child organizations and charities.
Wheeler has authored numerous research papers & articles. His books include:
• The Stepdad’s Guide:  Resolving Family Conflict (author)
• Dad’s Behaving DADLY (contributing author)

His upcoming book Stepdad 101 –What to Know BEFORE you Marry a Single Mom, will be released in 2015. Wheeler is a proud Stepdad of three.

1) Tell us what your blog is about and what inspired its conception?
I was raised by a single mom and understand the value a full-time dad adds to a child’s life. I created Stepdadding after discovering the issues I’ve dealt with as a Stepdad are common in most single mom remarriages. As a Stepdad I struggled to resolve the turmoil in my family.  My wife and I were a good couple and, on the surface, nothing seemed broken. But there was an amazing amount of stress and tension. We fought over little things, and we were growing apart. Divorce seemed unavoidable.

I started researching blended family statistics and found that more than 3/2 of marriages to single moms end in divorce. I discovered that Stepdads are nearly twice as likely to ask for a divorce. I also found that there are underlying stress factors that slowly erode these relationships, making them more likely to end in divorce. I was amazed I’d never heard this before. Understanding the underlying issues helped me save my marriage.

I knew this information could help other guys too. But most of the information I’d found was in hard statistics and was spread around the web. You couldn’t find it all in one single location. I created Stepdadding.com to give men a single site to get help. I was able to share what I’d found and help more men avoid divorce.

2) Who is your ideal reader and what do you hope they can gain from your blog?
The ideal reader for Stepdadding is any parent in a step-family. I created the site for men. I had in mind that I could help Stepdads and biological fathers work better as a team. It’s been good at attracting male readers but the analytics show that more than 40% of my readers are women. I also receive about 15% of my reader questions from women. Preventing divorce is a core goal of the site. So it’s not surprising moms are attracted to Stepdadding too.

I want to help kids. Divorce is hardest on them. The site helps couples resolve their stress triggers and stay together. Kids benefit a great deal when you can avoid divorce. Most step-kids already suffered through one split up. Saving these relationships keeps them from having to go through that again.

3) Where do you see your blog in 5 years’ time and will the topic continue to be as prevalent in the same vein you have blogging about it?
The newest statistics show the Stepdad trend is growing. A larger number of single mothers remarry each year –and the trend is worldwide. Last month readers from over 150 countries visited the site.

A Canadian study shows more than half of households reported they had a Step-parent in the family. The US is the same. Blended and step families are the new normal in western culture countries. The information provided at Stepdadding.com is needed more than ever.  The site traffic continues to grow at an amazing pace. The traffic increases by 150-200+% each year. People are sharing the articles in social media and work is getting around.

4) How do you continually find content for your blog?
I get content from a variety of sources I’ve developed, who are experts in the field. This requires a good deal of networking, but has been very valuable. I also use SocialMonsters. They are a free content service you can sign up for. For article ideas I subscribe to Google News feeds. This allows me to have news stories with specific key words sent to my email. I scan the emails each morning for relevant content.

Reader mail is another great source for topics. I have a link the readers can click to submit a question for my “Ask The Stepdad” page. These questions underline the most common issues couples deal with. The responses are posted, so new content on important topics is created. Other couples struggling with the same issue can apply the information to their situation.

There are about five major stress factors unique to Stepdad’s relationships and family life. Communication is the best way to overcome or avoid these issues, so communication is a huge theme on the site. And I don’t just say it’s important. I give relevant tips for how to improve the way couples talk.

5) What opportunities has your blog provided you?
The blog is a labour of love. There’s no cost to the reader. I started it so I can help other couples succeed. My work on the site has led to other opportunities. I was offered a monthly column in a parenting magazine. It was unpaid, but it gave me a new audience to share the site with. I wrote a research paper on the struggles of Stepdads, which was expanded and published as my first book, The Stepdad’s Guide.

I’ve been able to network with great people who’ve opened doors for other projects. I was asked to submit a chapter for the book Dads Behaving DADLY and asked to speak at several conferences through these connections.

This past summer the site was nominated as a top parenting site and was site chosen by voters among the top five in the world. It was the only site on the list dedicated exclusively to Stepdads. It was great publicity for the site.

6) How do you decide on what image should accompany each post? Is there a formula or pure creativity?
I used to put a lot of effort in finding what I felt was the perfect images, but I’ve backed down a bit from that. Searching for good images is time consuming. As the site becomes more successful I need the extra time to answer reader mail and do other formatting work.

I’ve become strategic. I want to site to look good and be easy to read. I like to have at least one image in each article but I’ve started inserting quotes from the article. I want the information to be easy to access and understand. I break up the article by section or point, by using formatting tricks. I use a larger font to introduce a shift in the focus as the article moves forward.

I also love to use video. It takes a little more effort but if the video content is important to the topic, it will be helpful to the reader. I’ve started creating more original video for the site and plan to put more emphasis on video in the future.

7) If you could provide one piece of advice for all men out there who are about to meet their potential step children for the very first time, what would it be?
Don’t expect to be “dad”. If the biological father is still in the picture this can cause the kids to feel pulled in two directions. It can cause a rift between the Stepdad and the father, making it hard to work as a team. This too is bad for the kids. When you’re a Stepdad you need to make a huge shift. The kids’ need become the center of your daily focus.

If the biological father isn’t in the picture the kids may choose to call you dad. You can let them know how you feel about them by referring to them as your kids in public. But don’t force it. They’ll decide on their own. Depending on their ages, they may never choose to call you dad.
Just be a parent. Raise them like you made them.

8) Do you have any advice for aspiring bloggers?
If you want to be a blogger, write about a topic you’re passionate about. Consider how many people need what you can share. If it’s a big audience you might have something. People Google information they can relate to and use in their own lives. Bloggers that share recipes, how-to videos and gardening advice will appeal to a huge audience of people. We all eat. We need to fix things and there are millions of people who garden.

Bloggers who just write about themselves won’t do as well. People probably won’t do a Google search that will turn up what you’re writing about. If what you’re passionate about is yourself, then just stick to Facebook.

THANK YOU FOR LETTING US GETTING TO KNOW YOU!
Should you wish to know more about Stacey James Wheeler and would like to follow his blog, here are all his pertinent details.

Blog: Stepdadding
Stacey’s’s social media connections:

social-facebook-box-blue-icon  social-twitter-box-blue-icon  pinterest-icon  Linked-In-icon

 

 

 

Interview with A.S. Chung: by Valerie Harmon

I was lucky enough to be interviewed by Valerie Harmon, author of the WantstoBe series and creator of Children’s Illustrated Picture e-Book Reviews.  The original posting may be found here.

VH: How do you decide what to write about?
ASC: My writing stems from what I staunchly believe in and from personal experiences. I am all about preaching positive messages and the importance of love and family.

VH: How did you find your illustrator?
ASC: An advertisement in the paper, looking for an illustrator! By gosh we found a gem! Not only is she talented, she has an uncanny knack of interpreting my words beautifully.

VH: Did you create your own publishing company, how and why?
ASC: Yes I did! Pigeonhole Books is a project very close to my heart. Dealing with important subjects such as divorce as well as same-sex, blended and multiracial families, I really wanted to have complete control of the book.

As for how, a lot of research and finding the medium that would suit me from a creative and financial point of view. Print on Demand distribution was perfect for me.

VH: What are your favorite books (children’s books and otherwise)?
ASC: I grew up reading Enid Blyton. Despite all the revelations about her writing styles in present day, I saw none of her racism and sexism when I was reading them. She always managed to immerse me into a world of pure imagination. It is no wonder that I then progressed onto Roald Dahl. I love that I am now reading these books to my daughter, allowing me to re-live my childhood!

As an adult, my all-time favourite genre is fantasy. Books that allow me to escape out of the real world as I immerse myself into a makeshift bubble of silence! David Eddings was my first true love, with Raymond E. Feist not very far behind.

I read all the classics too. I have a bookshelf about to burst at the seams filled with books of all kinds of genres. I can sometimes have four books on the go, depending on my mood!

VH: What advice do you have for people who want to write children’s books?
ASC: Just do it! The writing part is easy. If you had the inclination to do in the first place, you have already formulated a manuscript in your head. The hard part is getting it out there, the dos and don’ts and the right and wrong way to go about it. But in the end, just give it a go. If anything, allow it to satisfy your inner desire to put words on paper. It’s incredibly exciting!

VH: What’s your favorite part of being a writer?
ASC: My favourite part is seeing my message being interpreted by readers exactly as I had intended. My book is only 800 words. I had to find a way to express my message succinctly.