Winner! Global Ebook Awards!

Wishful Wedding - Silver Winner!A.S Chung’s LGBT children’s picture book about marriage equality has won Silver in the annual Dan Poynter’s Global Ebook Award for 2016! Wishful Wedding, although a children’s book, was entered into the Fiction – Gay/Lesbian/LGBT category. Normally reserved for adult fiction, Chung wanted to be recognised in a category true to the message of the book.

Still a prevalent topic in Australia, marriage equality still continues to elude the Australian LGBT community. This accolade only further highlights the topic and Chung is beyond pleased!

More about Dan Poynter’s Global Ebook Award:
Dan Poynter believed in ebooks. He spoke about them since the early 90s. He sold them from his website since 1996. Dan knew ebooks better than anyone in the publishing business. He was an evangelist for ebooks, an ombudsman for ebook authors, an advocate for ebook publishing, and the godfather to thousands of successfully-published electronic books. Dan Poynter was the author of more than 130 books, has been a publisher since 1969 and was a Certified Speaking Professional (CSP).

His seminars were featured on CNN, his books have been pictured in The Wall Street Journal, and his story has been told in The New York Times.

The media came to Dan because he was the leading authority on ebook publishing. Often referred to as The Book Futurist (and ebooks are the future), he was the most-often quoted authority on book publishing today.

Pigeonhole Books is ever more grateful for the likes of Dan Poynter, who has created significant awareness in ebooks. Thank you for this wonderful win!

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 Interview: Jolie Della Valle

Ants in the Pants GEORGIE AND THE ANTS IN THE PANTS BY JOLIE DELLA VALLE

1) Please provide a short excerpt of what your children’s book is about.
Georgie and the Ants in the Pants encourages children to embrace their individuality, silliness, and excitement – otherwise known as the “ANTS” in their pants! My book promotes dancing, laughing, and acting silly! The ultimate message of my book is to inspire children to believe in themselves!

2) What inspired you to write this book?
A few years ago I started Ants in the Pants, which originally was just a children’s clothing line that I created. I stopped making the clothes because it became too challenging. When my niece Sloane was born a few years later, she changed everything. She sparked me with inspiration that I never felt before! I wanted to create something to encourage her (and every child out there!) to believe in themselves. I started making the clothes again, and then the idea for Georgie and the Ants in the Pants came to me. The fact that wanted to be a good role model for Sloane was the force I needed to following through with it. I know the best way to teach kids is to lead by example, so this is what holds me accountable everyday throughout my journey.

3) Why did you pick this genre and how did you come to be a children’s picture  book author?
Georgie and the Ants in the Pants evolved out of my children’s clothing line, Ants in the Pants! Prior to this, I worked for another children’s company, and I always loved writing and poetry. I believe this is what I was meant to do… it just took some exploring of my creativity and whole lot of self discovery!

4) How do the illustrations complement your book? What was important to you  as an author?
I trusted my illustrator completely. I had known and admired Leigh Ann for years as an artist. I gave her the manuscript and told her to work her magic! My only request was that she create a character of a little girl to look like Sloane! That was very important to me! She did an amazing job!

5) Tell us about your school visits and why do you love doing them? Do you ever  go anywhere without your ukulele?
Oh my goodness- I could write a novel here! I absolutely LOVE doing school visits! This is another example of how my business has evolved in a way I never would have expected. I love doing them because I get to see the impact I am capable of making first hand. The children are so cute, and they fill me up with so much fuel to keep going and reaching for the stars. I visit to inspire them, but the truth is that they are inspiring me! The BEST is when I whip out the ukulele and get to watch them dance their hearts out! My ukulele is with me during every author visit or event! I play and practice almost every day. I never sang or played an instrument before I wrote the book. Then, a theme song came to me, and I just had to follow through with that too.

6) What is the most fulfilling thing about being an author?
The most fulfilling thing is the fact that I made something that will apart of a child’s life forever. Many people have told me that Georgie and the Ants in the Pants is a story time favorite ! A person never forgets their favorite books from their childhood. Children’s books eventually become a reflection of so many special and cherished memories! It also makes me so happy to think that one day my great, great grandchildren will be able to read a book that their great, great, Grandmother wrote!

7) What do you hope children will take away with them after reading your book?
I hope it makes their day brighter. I hope they feel encouraged to do the dance moves, and be silly, and have fun! I hope they are reminded of how special they are.

8) Tell us about your blog and what is it about?
My blog is a space for me to share special “Ant” news, poetry, and anything else that I feel is inspiring and uplifting for others!

9) Do you have any advice for aspiring authors about chasing their dreams?
Yes. Stop only thinking about it. Start being proactive. Take however many babysteps you need, but be sure to move forward a little bit everyday! Your future self will thank you so much! The place outside your comfort zone is magical.

10)What are you working on now?
My head spins at times because I have so many exciting things I’m working on. Creativity surely breeds more creativity. I have to focus on one thing at a time though, otherwise I nothing will get accomplished! The main things I’m currently working on right now include more song writing, my second book, manufacturing a “Georgie” stuffed animal (everyone asks for it!!), and expanding my reach by selling my book to Specialty gift and toy stores across the United States!

Jolie Della Valle

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

Website: Jolie Della Valle
Where to purchase her book: I Love Ants in the Pants
Jolie’s social media connections:

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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:

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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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Author Interview: Toni Brisland

DemiChat and the City of GoldDEMICHAT AND THE CITY OF GOLD BY TONI BRISLAND

1) Please provide a short excerpt of what your children’s book is about.
Famous archaeologists, the Jaspers, DemiChat and Lord Flannery Beagle’s owners, after their amazing discoveries in Egypt (Book 2 in the Series, DemiChat and the Lost Mummy) are invited on an international Academic Tour to lecture about their findings.

While in Peru they meet Carlos who persuades them to visit Machu Picchu and trek into the Amazon Jungle to search for the Incan City of Gold – he leads them into danger!. The city, under the protection of a native tribe and a wily jaguar, evades them until Amazonian Warriors show them a hidden passage through a volcano.

2) What inspired you to write this book?
I was inspired to write the series by my love of Sherlock Holmes, my Himalayan cat, Jade, and my niece’s beagle, Shiloh. I love animals and thought it would be fun to write a spoof about a cat-and-dog team playing the immortal Sherlock and Doctor Watson.

I commenced the series with the intention of a trilogy: the first set in Europe, the second in Egypt and actually had 2 plans for the third book. With the help of Teacher-Librarian friends we surveyed children who had read the first two books and asked them if they preferred a sequel set in the Amazon Jungle or New York. The resounding reply was in favour of the Amazon and Incans and Warriors – hence, DemiChat and the City of Gold was written.

3) How do the illustrations complement your book? What was important to you as an author?
My digital illustrator is Cheryl De Los Reyes Cruz, an American digital artist who understands the importance of colour and dash and action for an ebook for the age group. I think Cheryl has done an amazing job and extends the story through her brilliant work.

4) As a child, what books and/or authors influenced you the most and why?
Fantasy authors, Ursula Kroeber Le Guin, particularly the first four Earthsea books and J.R.R.Tolkien. Why? Their books made my imagination soar and gave me hope that in the constant struggle between good and evil that good will win out.

5) What is the most fulfilling thing about being an author?
Being totally absorbed in my passion for writing and knowing that my readers are transported to places and meet characters that they may not experience otherwise as they see the world of my books from my unique perspective.

6) What’s the greatest compliment you ever received from a reader?
From a father of a reader … “your DemiChat book was the first book my 10-year old son ever finished”.

7) What do you hope children will take away with them after reading your book?
A love of animals, of adventure, a belief that anything is possible and that you can create your own destiny.

8) Who is/are your favourite author/s as an adult and why?
My favourite authors are adult authors: Joseph Conrad, D.H. Lawrence, Hermann Hesse, Kathryn Heyman, Richard Flanagan. Why? Apart from being wonderful storytellers, their imagery is rich and detailed, they are structural experts and they force me to think about the bigger issues in life.

9) How would you define ‘success’ as a writer?
Writing a piece of work that is the best a writer can do (no matter how many edits need to be done and how long it takes to write it), says everything you want to say and is written as if it is the last thing you might write.

10) What are you working on now?
I’m writing a novel for adults.

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

Website: Toni Brisland
Where to purchase her book: Amazon, Dragon Pencil & Toni Brisland
Toni’s social media connections:

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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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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.