Saturday, March 23, 2019

An Interview with Children’s Literature Illustrator Marjorie White McVey



An Interview with Children’s Literature Illustrator Marjorie White McVey
by Gina McKnight

Late last Spring, I had the great opportunity to meet with Ohio children’s literature illustrator Marjorie White McVey. Marjorie and I, along with Marjorie’s sister, author Betty White Jenkins, met at my barn office to discuss layout, design, and the creation of How do We Know That Spring’s Aglow?

Welcome, Marjorie!

GM: The illustrations for your new book How Do We Know That Spring’s Aglow? are fun and inspiring. What medium did you use to create the illustrations?
MWM: For the illustrations in the book, How Do We Know That Spring’s Aglow?, I used chalk pastels and colored pencils.

GM: Did you use a model or have inspiration for the characters and scenes in the book?
MWM: Mainly I tried to fit the drawings to bring the text to life.

GM: With the success of your first book, a sequel or series is expected from your fans! What are you currently creating?
MWM: Currently we are working on another book using the same format-- How Do We Know That Winter’s Aglow?

GM: What are your methods for layout and design when illustrating a children's book? Do you sketch the entire story first and then go back and apply color, or do you have a different method?
MWM: I  make a rough sketch of each page and then put it all together to see how it flows.

GM: In your opinion, and as an educator, what elements create the perfect children's book?
MWM: Simplicity, brilliant colors, appropriate grade level, and familiar subject matter.

GM: Can you summarize the writing process in a brief statement to inspire other illustrators and motivate their creativity?
MWM: Just do it!!  Don’t be afraid to try!

Order your copy of How Do We Know That Spring's Aglow?

To purchase an autographed copy by the author and illustrator, send a message to mondaycreekpubishing@gmail.com


Tuesday, March 19, 2019

Monday, March 18, 2019

Milliron Monday: Celebrating Betsy 3 18 19


Betsy Hammer at the Movie Premier of Jack and Jill
Singer/Songwriter/Actress
Artist, RSM Records 
Abbott "Pete" Smith, D.V.M.
June 16, 1938 - February 22, 2010

Welcome to Milliron Monday where every Monday we celebrate the legacy of Pete Smith, D.V.M., and  Milliron: Abbott “Pete” Smith, D.V.M. The Biography (Monday Creek Publishing 2017). A graduate of Colorado State University and a well-known veterinarian in southeast, Ohio, Dr. Smith continues to motivate and inspire. 

Today we celebrate the success of former Milliron Clinic employee and friend of the Smith family, Betsy Hammer! From 1972 to 1975, Betsy was a favorite Milliron employee. A beautiful singing voice, Betsy was known for singing while she worked -  handling animals, greeting clients, and helping Dr. Smith in his daily practice. Betsy writes...

“My duties included cleaning all the cages for the animals, cleaning stalls, helping Dr. Smith during surgery, running the anesthesia machine, walking the animals, greeting patients at the front desk, answering phones, scrubbing the floors, and doing anything and everything that anyone who assisted Dr. Smith had to do; dealing with horses, pigs, and cows, dogs, birds, and cats and everything.
“One Saturday night, it was around 11 p.m., I was still working and Pete looked at me and said, ‘Do you want to go on one of the most exciting experiences of your whole life? Come on. Grab your purse, let’s go.’ So, I grab my purse, we hop into his truck, drove up the road and pull into a long driveway. At the top of the driveway was a farmer who escorted us to his barn where a cow was lying in a stall about to give birth, but she had was having a breech birth and she had to have a C-section. The farmer went for some boiling hot water. I held the lantern for Dr. Smith while he injected the animal, then opened the cow, and pulled out a calf.
     “I had to be the farmer because Pete said to me, ‘Grab a leg!’ I had to grab both legs. Pete grabbed the other two legs, and we began swinging it and swinging the calf in the middle of the barn. Moments later the calf stood up, as calves do, and it truly was one of the most memorable experiences of my life helping Pete Smith deliver and bring to life that beautiful young calf.”

Now, living in Hollywood, California, Betsy enjoys being an actress, voice coach, singer, and songwriter. Her most recent endeavor - Me Too video produced by RSM Records. Listen, like, and share here

Congratulations, Betsy, on your success! Sending well wishes from everyone at Milliron and the Ohio Valley! 

Connect with Betsy...
YouTube
www.betsyhammer.com




Through captivating, powerful, and emotional anecdotes, we celebrate the life of Dr. Abbott P. Smith. His biography takes the reader from smiles to laughter to empathy and tears. Dr. Smith gave us compelling lessons learned from animals; the role animals play in the human condition, the joy of loving an animal, and the awe of their spirituality. A tender and profound look into the life of a skilled veterinarian.

Wednesday, March 13, 2019

Writing Kid's Books: An Interview with Author Deanie Humphrys-Dunne


Writing Kid's Books: An Interview with Author Deanie Humphrys-Dunne
by Gina McKnight

Deanie Humphrys-Dunne is an award-winning children’s author with five books published; My Life at Sweetbrier (Monday Creek Publishing), Charlie the Horse, Charlene the Star, Charlene the Star and Hattie’s Heroes, and Charlene the Star and Bentley Bulldog.  Each book emphasizes powerful life lessons such as, friendship, setting goals, and helping others.

Deanie’s books have won several awards including, the Mom’s Choice Gold Medal, New Apple Solo Medal, among others. She has been interviewed on author websites and her books are now featured on Roku/FamilyCircleTV.  

Welcome, Deanie!

GM: Deanie, your horse history is amazing! Your father was a horse trainer, your mother a rider, too. When was your first encounter with a horse? 
DHD: I started riding ponies at about four years old. My parents owned a riding school called Sweetbrier. My first pony was a fuzzy brown little rascal named Little Man. He was a lazy fellow. In fact, he liked to lie down when I was on him. I used to think if I gave him sugar cubes first, he’d be in a happier frame of mind and that would help him behave. My tactic didn’t work, but eventually, I figured out how to keep him on his feet. 😊

GM: Congratulations on your award-winning books! What is the premise for your book My Life at Sweetbrier: A Life Changed by Horses?
DHD: The premise of My Life at Sweetbrier-A Life Changed by Horses is to never give up on your dreams because many things are possible if you persevere.

GM: What other books have you written?
DHD: My other book titles are, Charlie the Horse, Charlene the Star, Charlene the Star and Hattie’s Heroes, and Charlene the Star and Bentley Bulldog. All of them are fictional stories told by the animal characters. My sister, Holly Humphrys-Bajaj, designed the covers and drew the illustrations for them.

GM: From your childhood/teen years, what horse-related moment stands out the most in your memory?
DHD: Hmm, that’s a difficult question because there were so many unforgettable moments at Sweetbrier. I think the most special day was meeting my horse, Fleet Nancy, AKA Peach, for the first time. My dad and I went to Portchester, N.Y. with our trailer to pick her up.  My biggest dream was to win in the most competitive shows in the northeast and I knew we’d need an amazing horse to accomplish that because of the handicap I have that affects my legs. My dad felt she was the perfect horse for me and his intuition didn’t disappoint.  She loved jumping and she showed style, class and courage constantly. Peach gave me the confidence I needed to make my dreams come true. I don’t think anything would have been the same without her.

GM: Your parents were devoted to their horses and they had passion for teaching others the joy of horsemanship. What was it like living at Sweetbrier, riding horses, and having a dad who was a horse trainer?
DHD: I loved growing up at Sweetbrier because it gave me the opportunity to ride every day and work toward my goal of becoming an equestrian champion. My dad and I had a special bond. In fact, if he was at a show with me, I wanted him to kiss me for luck before we entered the ring. If I couldn’t find him, I’d ask everyone if they’d seen him and postpone my turn to jump as long as possible. My dad was the one who coached me and encouraged me. When Peach and I practiced, my dad would have us jump courses higher than necessary so I’d be more relaxed during the competition.

Riding in the horse shows was one of my favorite things, but I loved teaching as well. It was rewarding to see our students progress and reach their goals. Many of our former students have mentioned how much they loved the horses and the whole experience of riding at Sweetbrier. They’ve said they’ll always treasure the memories.

Of course, growing up at Sweetbrier was not without setbacks and challenges. There were times when the barn workers wouldn’t show up so my sisters and I helped with mucking stalls and other chores. It seemed whenever my parents went on vacation, their motorhome would barely be at the end of the driveway and we’d have mass exit of the stable help. Still, I wouldn’t trade my childhood experience for anything. Along the way, we all learned responsibility, work ethic and to always present our best effort.

GM: As a writer, how do you maintain thoughts and ideas for story lines?
DHD: That’s another great question. When I get an idea, I write it in a notebook. When I have time, I start developing the idea into a story. Sometimes things that happen in real life give me ideas, too. For example, we got an older lawn tractor that was so cute and sturdy. I thought we could write a cute story about the little machine.

GM: What are you currently writing?
DHD: My sister, Holly Humphrys-Bajaj, is my illustrator. She and I are planning for the release of our first picture book, about the little tractor, Wilbur, I mentioned in the previous question. It’ll be our first picture book and the first one that doesn’t feature horses. The picture book about Wilbur, the tractor, will be out sometime this summer. We’re very excited about it and we hope young children enjoy the story.

GM: What are you currently reading? 
DHD: I’m reading a wonderful picture book by my author friend, Janice Spina. It’s called The First Star. I’m sure children will love it and enjoy the important message it conveys as well.

GM: What does horsemanship mean to you?
DHD: In my view, there are many facets to horsemanship. It’s not only the art of horseback riding, but also the ability to develop a great relationship with your horse, like I had with my horse, Peach. She loved to please me and she understood when she’d done her best. If you learn how to care for your horse, it’s easier to nurture that special bond. If you compete in shows, you may also learn how to win and lose graciously, which is a valuable asset.

Connect with Deanie…



Tuesday, March 12, 2019

Monday, March 11, 2019

Milliron Monday: Remembering Dempsey Sharp 3 11 19

Abbott "Pete" Smith, D.V.M.
June 16, 1938 - February 22, 2010

Welcome to Milliron Monday where every Monday we celebrate the legacy of Pete Smith, D.V.M., and  Milliron: Abbott “Pete” Smith, D.V.M. The Biography (Monday Creek Publishing 2017). A graduate of Colorado State University and a well-known veterinarian in southeast, Ohio, Dr. Smith continues to motivate and inspire. 

Ted Nugent, the rock and roll icon writes, "It's the guy that goes to his grave with the most powerful memories that wins." After meeting Dempsey Sharp, I believe he had the most powerful memories. He lived successfully. A man of many talents, Dempsey was a writer, botanist, photographer, and historian. A friend to Dr. Smith, Dempsey was one of those people you like to hang out with who weaves intriguing tales, bringing you into his world, caring about your journey into the nooks and crannies of his story. 

It was March 9, 2013, when I met Dempsey Sharp for the first time. We met at the Athens County Public Library. We talked about Dempsey's adventures with Dr. Smith. Here is an excerpt from Dempsey's interview...

     Dempsey Sharp worked for Pete for a very long time, especially on the sawmill. “Pete and I just seemed to click. We were very close friends,” Dempsey explains. “I was looking for a veterinarian to take care of my dog and my cats. Somebody mentioned the Milliron Clinic. I took my dog to Pete for shots and that’s how we got acquainted. I don’t know whether you know it or not, but on my bill he always wrote No Charge. Pete worked with all animals, large and small, but I believe he especially favored racehorses. Once he expressed an interest in a medication that I was using for a breathing problem. Advair had just come on the market and it had made a marked difference in my life, especially in the control of asthma. He investigated the possibility of using Advair with racehorses but decided it presented too much of a problem to administer an effective dose. He was thinking that if he could keep the airways more open and relaxed, they would have more stamina. Pete said, ‘The difference between a winner and a loser is the small fraction of a second.’ I would like to believe that he considered me to be on the right side of that fraction. I know he was.
      “I found out that Pete was interested in trees,” Dempsey continues. “He was as interested in trees as he was horses. I believe that horses were his real love of life. But he loved trees, too. He said that he had some trees that I could come over and look at, and I did. He knew I was fascinated with wildflowers. Then this thing came up about the sawmill. That sawmill he had! We had a lot of conversations about how to strengthen certain things, how much stress/weight he could put on certain things, and what kind of timbers he would need to build the sawmill. I did a lot of that figuring for him. I was an engineer in the war. So, we got started. I didn’t do the measurements. I did the computations for the strength requirements.”
      In the spring of the year, on non-clinic days, Pete and Dempsey would set out on wildflower tours. They would get an early start and make their rounds through the State Nature Preserves. “We went into the woodland where the wildflowers were,” Dempsey says. “Pete was pretty good about recognizing wildflowers. He was interested in botany. Occasionally we’d run into some unusual flowers and we would talk about them. I gave Pete a few wildflower pictures that I had taken. He hung them on the wall of the second floor of the sawmill.
      “Pete would take a trip with me back home to visit my kin people in West Virginia,” Dempsey smiles. “From the clinic, we would take Route 50 through Parkersburg to Clarksburg. Then we would take Route 79 South and cut off when we got to a certain place and take the country roads to my home. Honest to God, I could be driving along at 70 mph and I would see a flower appear on a hillside and I knew exactly what that flower was; most of the time from their color. When Pete and I went, we were out from early morning to late. When you start looking at flowers, and really look at them, you take your time and don’t look at anything else. Pete loved all wildflowers. We would never pick them. Well, once in a while we’d pick violets.”


Sincere condolences to the family of Dempsey Sharp.

Through captivating, powerful, and emotional anecdotes, we celebrate the life of Dr. Abbott P. Smith. His biography takes the reader from smiles to laughter to empathy and tears. Dr. Smith gave us compelling lessons learned from animals; the role animals play in the human condition, the joy of loving an animal, and the awe of their spirituality. A tender and profound look into the life of a skilled veterinarian.

Saturday, March 9, 2019

An Interview with Children's Literature Author Betty White Jenkins


An Interview with Children’s Literature Author Betty White Jenkins
by Gina McKnight

Late last Spring, I had the great opportunity to meet with Ohio children’s literature author Betty White Jenkins. Betty and I, along with Betty’s sister, illustrator Marjorie White McVey, met at my barn office, a warm day when the windows were open and creativity was in the air.

Betty's original book
Betty brought an old story she had written in college. It was a hand-made book put together for a class project. I was hesitant when she handed me the book – the cover a little worn and faded. When I opened Betty’s book, the simplicity of the illustrations along with the adorable story drew me in. I immediately felt Betty’s vision for the book. We agreed that with a few tweaks here and there, the book would make a nice hardcover edition. Now, almost a year later, we celebrate Betty’s wonderful story.





Welcome, Betty!

GM: How Do We Know That Spring's Aglow is a beautiful book. I adore your passion for life. As a writer, you have set the stage for future volumes. What is the premise of your story and who is your target audience?
BWJ: The premise of my story is identifying some of the signs of Spring.  The target audience is K-4.

GM: As a writer, how do you maintain thoughts and ideas?
BWJ: As thoughts and ideas come to me, I jot them down in a notebook for future reference.

GM: Who is your favorite author?
BWJ: Dr. Suess is my favorite author because all of his books are written in rhyme and have colorful illustrations. My favorite Dr. Suess book is Thidwick the Big Hearted Moose.  It is one of his earliest books.

GM: Reading Dr. Suess is always a fun experience, no matter your age! I love Dr. Suess, too. What are you currently writing?
BWJ: Currently, I am working on a second book about another season.  This one is about winter and has the same format as How Do We Know That Spring's Aglow?

GM: Do you have advice for novice writers?
BWJ: I would tell novice writers to keep their writing simple and focus on one target audience.

GM: In your opinion, and as an educator, what elements create the perfect children's book?
BWJ: In my opinion, as an educator, having taught in the elementary classroom for 30 years, the elements that create the perfect children's books are: Simplicity, colorful illustrations, and subject matter the audience identifies with and are interested in learning about.

GM: A perfect answer! Your writing embraces all of the qualities you listed! Did you find that the publishing process was challenging? If so, in what way?
BWJ: I think any new venture presents challenges.  Since this was my first experience with publishing a book, I was a bit overwhelmed with all the details.  However, I am happy to say that it was a very rewarding endeavor when I saw my book in print.  Also, my publisher (Monday Creek Publishing) was phenomenal in guiding me through the process.

GM: Thanks for your kind words, Betty. I enjoy working with you. You bring good energy to the creative process. Can you summarize the writing process in a brief statement to inspire other writers and motivate their creativity?
BWJ: With any project, the first step is planning, and in my opinion the most important.  You need to determine the purpose, and choose a topic.  The next step is to brainstorm all the ideas about your topic and write them down.  Next,  compose a rough draft, revise and edit, proofread and finally publish.  All of these steps, take time and remember some of your best ideas will come to you when you least expect it.  Many times I wake up in the middle of the night to write down my thoughts, or driving in my car, something I see will spark an idea, so always keep notepad and pen handy!

Order your copy of How Do We Know That Spring's Aglow?

Betty's next book How Do We Know That Winter's Aglow? is currently in illustration and will be released in 2019. To purchase an autographed copy by the author and illustrator, send a message to mondaycreekpubishing@gmail.com