Thursday, April 30, 2020

How to Use Social Media to Promote Your Book by Matthew Caracciolo


How to Use Social Media to Promote Your Book

by Matthew Caracciolo

You wrote a book. Congratulations! Now it’s time to tell the world about it. Unfortunately, the world is pretty big and there are a lot of books in it. How do you get the world to pay attention to yours? Social media will be, without question, an inevitable part of your marketing strategy.

There’s a lot of noise on social media, and other articles can tell you how to separate yourself from the rest, but the number one piece of advice I can give you is to be a consistent, relevant presence on your social media platforms. Depending on the social media platform, this may mean posting a few times a week (Facebook, Instagram) or even every day (Twitter). Generating enough content to achieve this, however, can be a challenge. Let’s look at some strategies.

Keep a social media calendar

A good practice is to maintain a social media calendar so you can plan your posts weeks or even months in advance. That way, you don’t feel as if you need to scrape something together at the last second.

Be creative with your content

You may be thinking “how on earth do I generate enough content to post a few times a week?” On top of posting promotional material for your work, consider posting relevant quotes (either from your work or not). Celebrate obscure holidays relevant to your work, like National Author’s Day or National Tell a Story Day. Subscribe to a calendar that keeps track of these types of holidays and plan accordingly. Ask open-ended questions to encourage engagement on your post. Follow other authors and keep an eye on what kind of things they’re posting to generate more ideas.

Keep it visual

Most social media is visually oriented, so an image or video is automatically going to attract more attention than just a text-based post. If you’re looking at the content you want to post and you’re thinking “this is text,” you can use a website like canva.com to spiff up some text as an appealing image. Think quotes, poems, and other blurbs with a relevant image behind it. Look for royalty-free images on websites like pixabay.com. If you’re putting together a blog post, the metadata behind the image (alternative text, title, etc.) is a good place to insert your SEO keywords.

Use SEO

Oh yeah. SEO, or Search Engine Optimization, is not only important for blogs or articles, but for social media too. There’s a lot of information out there about SEO and it’s too large a topic to cover in this small blog post, but the long and short of it is placing keywords and phrases into your content that you think people will type into Google will help searchers find what you wrote. There are tools out there to help you with this research. Most of it costs money. One website that has a limited free version is Moz.com.

Research and Use Hashtags

Hashtags are used as a way for people to search for content they like to see. Facebook and Twitter posts typically use no more than three, but you can really pile them on in Instagram. Again, look at fellow authors and see what kind of hashtags they are using in their posts. Do you see any that look relevant to your work? Instagram, helpfully, tells you how many times a hashtag has been used so you can do a little trial and error to discover some new ones. Mixed in there, you may also want to come up with your own hashtag to point readers to your previous posts.

This is more or less a 30,000-foot view of how to use social media to promote your work—there is plenty of more detailed information about all of these topics—but now you know what’s basically required to promote your book, blog, or whatever else you’ve been working on. Good luck!

Matthew Caracciolo is a freelance writer and author of The Waygook Book: A Foreigner’s Guide to South Korea from Monday Creek Publishing. He also maintains his own travel blog, Travel is Fatal, on his website. To find out more about The Waygook Book or Travel is Fatal, please visit matthewcaracciolo.com.

Image by Pixelkult from Pixabay 


Wednesday, April 29, 2020

Meet Illustrator Çağlar Özgün!



Meet Illustrator Çağlar Özgün!

“I am a 29 children's book illustrator and Event Caricature artist. I live between Bursa, Turkey and Cairo, Egypt. And I love white chocolate wafers!”    

GM: At what age did you realize you wanted to pursue a career as an artist?
Ç Ö: 11 years old. After watching Heidy I started to write my own stories and draw them. Then I started to characterize people into drawings, when my old neighbor asked me “Do you draw caricature?”, I had no idea what was it! Back then when there was no internet available in each house I went to an internet café and wrote on google “Caracature”, google corrected me “Do you mean Caricature?” I clicked on it and found a whole world of art I had no idea about. I said to myself “OMG that’s exactly what I am doing” then started to research more and more and develop a style of myself.

GM: Describe your studio and where you like to work...
Ç Ö: It’s more of a home-office, I have a large desk with 2 screens and Wacom tablet. Printed on walls my previous works and some caricatures of my family. I have bookshelves where I keep the Children's books I illustrated and old Caricature magazines and comics.

GM: What mediums do you like to use?
Ç Ö: I basically use Photoshop and illustrator for my digital illustrations. In live events, I use soft pastel with piece of cloth and matte photo paper. Sometimes I also use food colors and brushes.

GM: Who is your favorite artist(s)?
Ç Ö: May sound cliché but of course Walt Disney and Peyo! Their perspective of the world and their works are so inspiring that it widens the imagination of whoever watches them.

GM: Do you have a muse or other inspiration?
Ç Ö: When I illustrate children books my inspiration is always my desire to open up children's minds to the world of imagination and pushing them to be themselves, telling them there is more in life than they can imagine.

When I go on live caricature events my inspiration is definitely the smile or laugh the people I draw have on their faces when they see my caricature POV of them.

GM: What is the key to creating an illustration that will resonate with a lot of people and keep them captivated for more?
Ç Ö: We always remember the character that looks like us, that have some of us in them. For example:  always have “Simba” on mind because we have those impulsive moments when we run after our desires and curiosity, and many times we fail to satisfy them, still we want them so badly that we keep chasing them. The point is: creating a character that touches something in us and being creative with it is always the key.

GM: Do you have advice for novice artists?
Ç Ö: Never put limits to your imagination. Always read, watch and analyze. And NEVER give up on it.

Need illustration? Email Çağlar: azcaglar@gmail.com






Tuesday, April 28, 2020

The Crates: T.W. Harvey Author



The Crates
By T.W. Harvey

August 17, 1993, 7:00 P.M.                         

Cleveland Heights, Ohio

          Right around 2:15 P.M. this afternoon, Tuesday, August 17, 1993, there was a knock on the door of my study. You see, I am working at my parents’ house since they have moved to Judson Manor, a retirement community in the University Circle area of Cleveland. They wanted me to prepare the house for sale, so I just brought my computer and work files to the Cleveland Heights home while the work to empty the house went on.

          Three years ago, I started a small consulting company, Value Concepts, Inc., to help small-to-medium-sized banks improve their productivity and profitability and was working, this afternoon, on a report for the Savings Bank of Utica, a client in upper New York state. My career to this point had consisted of five years with a small firm, Educational Dimensions, Inc., which had two large contracts for a social science textbook series for Grades 7 through 12. And, then, after taking my M.B.A. in Finance at Case Western Reserve University, I accepted a position in the Finance Division of Union Commerce Bank which was merged into Huntington Bancshares five years later. It was time I found a “real job” my father had lectured, so it was a perfect fit.

          After the merger into the Huntington, which I managed by the way, I took an offer from Society Corporation to develop and implement strategies for acquiring and merging in other banks which we did quite well, buying banks in Dayton, Canton, Toledo, and two in Cleveland. That ended in 1990 – 1991 when Society became part of Key Corp, and I was out of a job again. It has always struck me as interesting that I put myself out of work twice, once at Union Commerce and the other at Society. But then, it was time to become an entrepreneur, and I formed Value Concepts, Inc. The Savings Bank of Utica was my first client and, obviously, a very important one.

      So, there I was this afternoon, diligently typing away on my Commodore PC, and there’s a knock on the door. I invited whoever it was to come in, and in walks Pete Zanetti, one of the men who was helping discard things that we didn’t want or need as we were getting ready to sell the house. He told me that there were two crates down in the basement and asked what I wanted to do with them. Beats me, I said. So, we went down the stairs and through the kitchen to the basement stairs. When I got down there, Pete’s associate, Norm Fassbender, was looking at the crates, each one 18 inches long, 9 inches wide, and 12 inches in height. Oddly, on the side of one, in large, faded black, cursive lettering were the words “Tippecanoe and Tyler, Too.” Now, I kind of remembered from history classes that this was the slogan of some president back in the mid-19th century but really didn’t pay too much attention to it. But, it was a sign.

          Norm asked me what I want to do with them. My response was to open them up and see what’s inside. So, he took out a claw hammer and screwdriver and broke into one of them, breaking the cover in two. The crate had been nailed shut with 3-inch square heads. He handed a couple of them to me. They sure were old. Looking inside the crate, it was full of paper, old paper I could tell by picking one document up.

          Being a history buff as well as a finance guy, I was curious to find out what the documents were and noticed that they were mostly letters in their envelopes. One postmark said “Libby Prison, Richmond, Va.,” and the envelope was addressed to a “Miss Francis P. Porter.” Well, I had no idea who that was and asked Pete and Norm to seal the crate up and then take both of them out to the garage. I wanted to take them to our summer cottage on a lake in Ashtabula County, Ohio, to look at later. Right now, the Savings Bank of Utica was first and foremost on my mind. It was paying the bills.

          But, before they sealed the crates and carried them to the garage, I opened the envelope to Miss Porter and unfolded the letter inside. It was handwritten, friendly enough, dated July 28, 1863, and was from a Thomas S. Armstrong. Now, I am really curious for my father’s middle name was Armstrong and am wondering what else was in those crates. I would have to wait until the work with the Savings Bank of Utica was complete to find out.


To see the Paula B. And Thomas W. Collection of Civil War Letters at Ohio Wesleyan Unversity's online archive, click here!



About Dr. Harvey
Dr. T.W. Harvey is retired Associate Professor of Finance at Ashland (Ohio) University. He has published two books, Quality Value Banking: Effective Management Systems that Increase Earnings, Lower Costs, and Provide Competitive Customer Service, with Janet L. Gray, and The Banking Revolution: Positioning Your Bank in The New Financial Services Marketplace. Further, he had articles published in both practitioner and academic journals.

Dr. Harvey has always been fascinated by the history of the United States and was grateful to have the opportunity to study it in detail while researching and writing Seeing the Elephant: One Man’s Return to the Horrors of the Civil War.

He was born and raised in Cleveland Heights, Ohio. He graduated from Hillsdale College with a BA in English, from Case Western Reserve University with an MBA in Finance, from Cleveland State University with a doctorate in management and strategy. He and his wife, Paula, reside in Cleveland Heights, Ohio.



Monday, April 27, 2020

Milliron Monday: A Fairly Normal Monday 4 27 2020

Above: At Milliron Clinic, Dr. Smith at work. 10/21/2009

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



Everybody sends stuff here if they think they’re going to die.” Pete Smith, D.V.M.


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. 

In his lifetime, Dr. Smith was often in the local news. Whether he was supporting the local Humane Society or interviewing about being a veterinarian, Dr. Smith always was a person of interest. He could tell a good story, usually a real-life event that only a veterinarian could encounter. 

On Monday, August 24, 1998, reporter Chris Vance of The Athens News, posted an article: Amesville vet has high-tech facility, low-tech manner. Dr. Smith interviewed that Monday about his state-of-the-art clinic equipment, including EKG machines, ultrasound equipment, and other specific equipment that other local clinics did not have...


     Abbott (Pete) Smith, D.V.M., cut carefully into the dog’s abdominal area, daubing the blood that seeped from the wound. Then he slipped his fingers inside the cut, probing with a faraway look in his eyes, seeing by touch. A few minutes later, the dog was being sewn up and wheeled away to recover from heavy sedation. It was a fairly normal Monday. Smith would be in and out of surgery until 10 that night.
     “Everybody sends stuff here if they think they’re going to die,” said Pete Smith, who founded his Milliron Clinic on Ohio Rt. 550 near Albany in 1968. While other veterinarians have a regular core of patients, Smith gets about 40 percent of his clients through referrals and earns the most income from surgery and internal medicine, with a smaller percentage in vaccinations.
     Many of Smith’s referrals may come about because of his technological capabilities. Since his facilities are equipped to care for horses, he has many sophisticated toys that he can use to diagnose and operate on cats and dogs.
     “Because of the horses, we have a lot of specific equipment,” he confirmed. This includes X-ray machines, EKG machines, automated blood work machines, fluid therapy, dentistry facilities, ultrasound machines and the capability to do orthopedic work. It also includes a facility that has nearly 10,000 square feet of floor space, a straw-covered recovery room for horses, and grounds to bury dogs, cats and horses (the latter with the assistance of a backhoe). Smith said that Milliron is the only facility in Athens County that does cremations.
     Besides providing a burial service for animals, Smith uses the Milliron Clinic farm to raise feed and uses his own animals – a gang of lethargic cats that lounge about his waiting room – as blood donors. “They work, say, 15 minutes a year,” he said.
     Though Smith used to do house calls, he stopped about 10 years ago as the demand went down. Also, it sometimes was difficult to collect payment after working on the farm all day. Another factor in cutting out farm calls was travel expenses. In the most extreme cases, Smith made calls to Canada and once to Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, where he cared for participants in “The Wonderful World of Horses” show in the mid-1970s.
     Smith works most with racehorses, but also sees some trail and work horses.
     “I probably don’t have any client that’s responsible for one-tenth of one percent of my income. If somebody gets mad at you, you can still survive,” he said wryly.
     Milliron seems to gain many of its patients by doing what many other clinics lack equipment to do, such as bone plating, at competitive prices. Smith maintained that his clinic charges a fraction of what the Ohio State University Veterinary College would want for such an operation. He noted that major operations such as horse colic surgery, which takes nearly 100 gallons of IV fluid, is often half the price of other clinics because Milliron’s rural setting and the lower standard of income hereabouts.
     “I wanted a college town with pretty scenery and cheap land,” Smith said of his decision to come to Athens County from Southeastern Colorado in 1963. “I came to Athens and never regretted it.”
     The afternoon was waning, and it was time for Smith to go back to work after a short nap on his cot in the back office. He explained that he caught a nap so he “could still form complete sentences by eight o’clock in the evening.” As the door opened to the car outside he stepped forward, blood from surgery still present on his scrubs. “Be kind,” he said. “This is what I do for a living.”




Have a great week ahead.


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.



Sunday, April 26, 2020

A Writer's Journey: T.W. Harvey, Author


A Writer’s Journey

Seeing the Elephant: One Man’s Return to the Horrors of the Civil War

Cleveland, Ohio  

By T.W. Harvey

My publisher and mentor, Gina McKnight of Monday Creek Publishing in Buchtel, Ohio, suggested to me the other day that I blog about the process that I undertook to write Seeing the Elephant: One Man’s Return to the Horrors of the Civil War. At the outset, I will admit that the title should have been “One Man’s Triumphs over the Horrors of the Civil War” because the main character, Lieutenant Thomas S. Armstrong survived this conflict that changed the United States forever. Incidentally, Armstrong was my great-grandfather, so I am very grateful that he did, indeed, survive. I’ve never done a blog before, but here goes!

I am not going to relate the details of the book, which was published by Monday Creek in December 2018, rather to offer the events that resulted in its creation and the thoughts and feelings of those who were involved with it. As I develop this blog, you will meet people, and you may wonder who they are and why I have included them, but I will ask you to trust me since each one played a significant role in the “Elephant.”

Of course, the first question you will ask is what does seeing the elephant mean. Fair enough. It is a term, only used in the military of the United States, to indicate that a soldier has been in battle and has seen exactly what that means. War is cruel, and we must give our thanks and praise to the men and women who have fought for our freedom in America. I had not thought about it for a good number of years until I started learning about Tom Armstrong and the sacrifices he and millions like him have made in the service of our country. The respect that I have for them is immeasurable.

As we proceed, you will get to know me as an author. Prior to the “Elephant,” I had two books on banking and finance published, Quality Value Banking in 1992 and The Banking Revolution in 1996. I know, pretty dry, but what would expect from and MBA in finance, soon to be Ph.D. But, you see, I have always loved to write. Actually, my first publication was a play that was selected by my 4th grade teacher at Fairfax Elementary School here in Cleveland Heights was performed at an assembly in front of all of the students, teachers, and staff.

Some years later, at Hillsdale College in Michigan, I was taught to write well by Professors James King and Charles Wesley of the English Department. They emphasized things like proper grammar, correct punctuation, appropriate sentence structure, and the importance of making whatever it was interesting to the reader. And, then, upon graduation, I went to work for a small firm that had a contract with John Wiley& Sons to develop a series of social science textbooks for high schools all over the country. Talk about pressure to make your work good. Those books were a long way from a 4th grade play and papers written at Hillsdale. They did very well, I might add.

You will also meet my wife, Paula, who proofread the “Elephant” at least two times, maybe three, not for the history but for the writing itself. One of my goals in the book was to have the reader feel like he or she “was there,” actually bring part of the story. I never mentioned that to her and was quite pleased when she would say “You know, I felt like I was there.” I also wanted to have people say, “I had a hard time putting it down. I wanted to find out what happened.”

Others who you will hear about are Kathryn Vossler, Ph.D. in History; Stephen Shay, M.D. and Ret. Colonel, United States Army; and David “Mitch” Taylor, Curator of Muskingum County (OH.) History. Also, Penny and John Scarpucci, and Betty and Richard Smith, Ph.D. in History. And, as we go, I am sure there will be others.

Enough of this introduction. Let’s get on with it. In the next post, I will tell you about the wooden crates. Wooden crates, you ask? What’s so important about wooden crates? I will just say now that without them, there would be no story.



To see the Paula B. And Thomas W. Collection of Civil War Letters at Ohio Wesleyan Unversity's online archive, click here!



About Dr. Harvey
Dr. Tom Harvey is a retired Associate Professor of Finance at Ashland (Ohio) University. He has published two books, Quality Value Banking: Effective Management Systems that Increase Earnings, Lower Costs, and Provide Competitive Customer Service, with Janet L. Gray, and The Banking Revolution: Positioning Your Bank in The New Financial Services Marketplace. Further, he had articles published in both practitioner and academic journals.

Dr. Harvey has always been fascinated by the history of the United States and was grateful to have the opportunity to study it in detail while researching and writing Seeing the Elephant: One Man’s Return to the Horrors of the Civil War.

He was born and raised in Cleveland Heights, Ohio. He graduated from Hillsdale College with a BA in English, from Case Western Reserve University with an MBA in Finance, from Cleveland State University with a doctorate in management and strategy. He and his wife, Paula, reside in Cleveland Heights, Ohio.



Saturday, April 25, 2020

Fourteen Days More…: A Novel about COVID-19 by Hamza Hassan Sheikh



Fourteen Days More…: A Novel about COVID-19

Fourteen Days more… is the novel based on the main theme of Covid-19 Corona virus. It’s the first ever fiction novel in the world about this recent pandemic. The novel is dedicated to the services and devotion of the doctors and the paramedical staff around the globe for sacrificing their lives in this war against Corona Virus. There are four major characters, Feroza from Kazakhstan and her two brothers, Mirus and Alinur, living in China and Spain. The fourth major character is Haider, the fiancé of Feroza, based in Indonesia. There are many supporting minor characters appearing in the story in different areas of the world. The story of the novel is based on the misery of humanity in the recent days of virus outbreak. There are sufferings, miseries, disasters, hopes, devotion and wishes of the humanity as the major themes; as well the themes of the human greed, selfishness and carelessness are also the premise of the novel. Being a free human in the modern era, all humans had turned into the prisoners. How? Why? and Where? Read about in it…!!!

Available in Kindle & Paperback here!

Amazon Author Page


About the Author
Hamza Hassan Sheikh is a creative writer, a novelist, a poet and a short-story writer. He is a PhD scholar in Cinematography and Film Studies at the The Universiti Malaysia Sarawak (UNIMAS) in Malaysia. He is an author of 12 books, 6 in English and 6 in Urdu language. The different editions of his books have been published in Pakistan, India and USA. He is first ever English novelist and short-story writer from his province KPK. He has more than 20 honourary certificates on his credit in different creative writing competitions and extra-curricular activities. He had received many national and international awards from Pakistan, Albania, Lebanon and Kazakhstan. He has presented his papers and poems in many national and international conferences and literature festivals and therefore visited Iran, India, Azerbaijan, Uzbekistan, UAE, Malaysia and Romania. His poems and short-stories have also been published in different international anthologies and yearbooks in China, Taiwan, UK, USA, India and Australia. As well, he has translated work of many international writers into Urdu and translated Pakistani Literature from Urdu, Punjabi, Saraiki, Hindko and Pushto into English. He is also participating as a speaker on different TV channels of Pakistan.



Friday, April 24, 2020

How to Start Writing a Book by Matthew Caracciolo


How to Start Writing a Book
By Matthew Caracciolo

It’s time. You’ve got an idea for a book and you want to write it, for real this time, and pursue getting it published. The idea has been bouncing inside your head for ages and it’s begging to come out. The question is: how to start writing a book?

Writing a book, and finishing it, is not an easy task. Otherwise everyone would be doing it. Writing a book takes commitment, but it also takes the belief that your idea is worth hours and hours of your time, plus the exhaustion of the inevitable ping-pong between excitement and despair. A plan going forward will align your expectations to reality, build discipline, and prepare you for the long haul of writing tens of thousands of words that, when put together, make some semblance of sense.

How to Start Writing

1)     Write an outline. Some writers may tell you otherwise, and that’s fine, but for most people an outline is an essential tool to keep your head in the game. An outline not only helps you piece together your story or chapters before you get started, it’s a map for when you’re in the weeds of character development, plot progression, or information dumps. Without an outline, it’s more difficult to maintain disciplined in your approach. Your outline can be messy. It can make absolutely no sense to anybody but yourself. It can be as spartan or as detailed as you want. Without an outline, though, you’re walking blindly into the unknown.

2)     Commit to a writing schedule. It’s imperative to carve some time every day, or at least every other day, to sit down and write uninterrupted. Even if it’s just one hour, the discipline to push other things aside for your book will go a long way in getting it done. I know this can seem easier said than done, but if your book is a priority, you’ll find the time. Hint: it probably involves waking up earlier. As an off-shoot of this advice, don’t beat yourself up for missing a day or two. The important thing is to sit in front of the computer again and write.

3)     Set yourself writing goals. It’s good practice to determine a target before you get started. Tell yourself that you want to finish a specific scene before you stop for the day. If that’s too much, then think smaller. You want to finish a conversation, a description, or an explanation of something. You’ll feel more accomplished if you can check something off a to-write list.

4)     Leave something for tomorrow. I can’t remember which famous author it was that said this, but I don’t take credit for this idea. Though it may sound counterintuitive, not getting to something on your to-write list for the day leaves something for you to do tomorrow, which is at least one reason you can give yourself tomorrow to sit down and write. Keeping an idea gestating for another 24 hours is a helpful way not only to give yourself the ‘oomph’ to keep writing, but also to avoid writer’s block.

5)     Don’t start at the beginning. The first chapter, nay, the first paragraph is one of the hardest things to write. Many of the best beginnings start in media res, that is, in the middle of things. That’s hard to do when you haven’t written the ‘things’ yet. Don’t stare at a blank page waiting for that super first sentence to come flowing from the fingertips. Write literally anything else. And then write something else that comes to mind. Write whatever comes out. Writing begets writing, and soon you’ll have pages, albeit piecemeal, of scenes or ideas, but that’s better than a blank page. You can stitch your bits and pieces together as you go, and soon enough a suitable beginning will present itself.

There is a lot more advice out there about what to do once you’re really in the thick of it: how to avoid writer’s block, how to construct scenes, how to revise, how to get published, etc. That can wait. The most important thing is to get started and to keep going. Writing a book is a noble and distinguished pursuit, but don’t expect it to always feel that way. Set yourself up for success!

Matthew Caracciolo is a freelance writer and author of The Waygook Book: A Foreigner’s Guide to South Korea from Monday Creek Publishing. He also maintains his own travel blog, Travel is Fatal, on his website. To find out more about The Waygook Book or Travel is Fatal, please visit matthewcaracciolo.com.





Thursday, April 23, 2020

An Interview with Children's Lit Author Kathy Elasky


From Ohio USA, Kathy Elasky is the author of the new children’s book Pudgy Possum and the Porcupine (Monday Creek Publishing 2020). I had the chance to ask Kathy about her book, writing, and more…
Welcome, Kathy!

Elasky at work.
GM: What is the premise for your new book Pudgy Possum and the Porcupine?
KE: When my grown-up daughter was in elementary school the other leaders and I took her Girl Scout troop to an overnight at the Columbus Zoo. One special activity the girls got to do was to see some of the zoo animals up close. A possum was one of the animals the zookeepers brought out. It was so sweet, and we all got a chance to pet it. I guess that is when my interest in possums started. I have always rooted for the underdog and possums are certainly underappreciated animals. The more I learn about them the more fascinated I am. In Pudgy and the Porcupine, I wanted Pudgy to learn that even though other animals may seem like they have it nicer, just being yourself works out better in the end. That’s a lesson I hope all children will learn.

GM: As the author and illustrator of the book, what was your inspiration for the illustrations?
KE: My favorite illustrators have always been Garth Williams and Cyndy Szekeres. Both of them draw such cute, furry animals that I guess I was trying to do the same. I want my characters to be realistic enough to be believable but with a bit of whimsy.

GM: Tell us about your office and where you like to write...
KE: When I first start a story, I write it out in a journal or notebook so I could be writing anywhere, outside in the garden, on the couch in the living room. I’ve even been known to write in bed. Sometimes I get an idea for a story in the middle of the night. I write it and rewrite it in my head until I finally get up and write it down. I’ve done some of my best writing in the dark of night.

When I start a new story, I usually just let my imagination go and write whatever comes out.  Then I type the story into my computer. The computer makes fine-tuning it much easier. I actually love editing my stories. It’s like polishing a rock or refinishing furniture. The end results are always so much better than the original. I must say that changing Pudgy and the Porcupine to a 500-word story from the 1,500 original version was quite a challenge.

Since my children are all grown and out of the house, I have had the luxury of turning one of our bedrooms into my office/sewing room. It’s also where we have our piano. My sewing table is usually covered with the latest project. Right now, it’s covered with masks waiting to be sewn for use in battling the Corona Virus.

GM: Do you have advice for novice writers?
KE: Write, write, write, then write some more, even if you never use most of what you have written. Many of my ancestors wrote a lot and I have enjoyed reading all of it even though none was ever published. Two of my favorites are my great, great, great grandfather’s canal and ocean ship journey back to England. The other is my grandfather’s WWI diary. Who knows who may end up reading what I haven’t gotten published?

Read all kinds of books, even ones you don’t think you will like. You might surprise yourself. At the very least you will get to see how other authors go about writing their stories. You may get ideas for new things to try on your own writing.

The last advice is don’t give up. Every rejection letter is one letter closer to success. If you have a book that just can’t wait, publish it on your own to get started. Keep trying! If God put writing into your heart, He will eventually lead you to someone who will share your vision.  

GM: Who is your favorite author/writer?
KE: I have three favorites and I have read everything each of them has ever written. In no particular order, the first is Jane Austin because I am a hopeless romantic. The second is Louisa Mae Alcott. Maybe my grandmother being named after her has something to do with this one. Both of these women make me feel as if I am right there in the midst of the story. I feel as if I am leaving behind new best friends when the books are finished.

The third is Laura Ingalls Wilder. I feel as if I lived through history because of reading her books. Farmer Boy is probably my favorite. It is like reading the story of my own grandfather’s life since there are so many similarities between him and Almonzo. Granddad even raised his own team of oxen just as Almonzo did. I would always read one of Mrs. Wilder’s books to the students in my class.

Mrs. Wilder has been the inspiration for my own writing. She didn’t become a published author until she was 65. For years I wanted to write children’s books but didn’t have the time due to teaching school and raising three children with my husband. Because of Mrs. Wilder, I kept telling myself I still had time. Once I retired and life slowed down a little, I jumped in. If not for Laura Ingalls Wilder I probably would have given up.  

GM: What are you currently writing?
KE: At the present, my biggest writing venture is keeping a journal of life during the Corona Virus epidemic. I usually keep a journal when we go on a trip somewhere and this experience is quite a trip into the unknown. I thought my great-grandchildren might like reading what it was like. And I am always working on more Pudgy the Possum books. I have hand-made three Pudgy books for my grandkids, the original version of Pudgy and the Porcupine was one of those. I have also written four other Pudgy stories. I just keep getting more and more ideas for adventures Pudgy can get into.

GM: List 10 things your fans may not know about you...
KE:
1.     I have eight grandkids whom I adore. Of course, I love their parents too.
2.     Scotland and Ireland are my favorite countries to visit.
3.     Nepal is the farthest I have been from home.
4.     I have taught every grade from 3rd to 8th. Third was my favorite. All of my former students were my favorite student.
5.     I love running into my former students, even though it makes me feel old to see them all grown up.
6.     My favorite part of the school day was when I read to my students. I especially loved when they would beg me to read just one more chapter.
7.     I once had a skunk for a classroom pet. And yes, he had been de-scented!
8.     I’m not really afraid of any kind of animal except June bugs (maybe I’ll write a story about Pudgy eating them).
9.     Until recently, I have been lucky enough to have had a pony or horse since I was five.
10.   I don’t think I could survive without at least one dog. We currently have three.

Connect with Kathy…

  
                                                                                    


Wednesday, April 22, 2020

Of Life and Magic: The Poetry of Bruce Slater


by Bruce Slater

People have different responses to poetry. Some think it is vital and alive. John Adams is quoted in David McCullough's biography, John Adams, telling his son, "You will never be alone with a poet in your pocket." Many, though, think poetry is frivolous. When I told people I was writing a book of poetry, the response was often tepid, like I should have something better to do, something more respectable, more productive. Now that the book is finished, I fear Groucho Marx's comment may be all too real, "From the moment I picked your book up until I laid it down, I was convulsed with laughter. Some day I intend to read it." Writing anything, but especially poetry, is frightening. When you're speaking, you look at the listener. If he stares off, falls asleep or throws up, you make adjustments. Writing is blind, a one-way communication into vulnerability, no redaction, no second chances. Poetry writing is worse. You ask the reader, within limited lines, to see, hear, smell, touch and taste the recipe you've prepared. Then to swallow and digest. Finally, assuming it stays down, to think and feel before leaving the table. Without the brain, heart and senses working in tandem, the verbal colors fade to black and white. I believe reading poetry is a talent not dissimilar to writing it. The poetry reader is an artist.

Available in Kindle and Paperback here!

5-Stars
“The wordplay is neat, simple, and elegant, and that makes it easy for readers to understand the indescribable in a good way and connect with the emotions that are there behind the words. All poetry aficionados will find this collection a delight and all the poems can be re-read.” Amazon reviewer

New! Poetry readings by the Author on YouTube!






From the Author
I write stories about real moments that pass us by and disappear forever. Important moments that make a difference. That are the difference between life and living. Moments that are magic. I wrote this book in verse. It was the language that best describes what is often indescribable.


About the Author

Bruce Slater was born in Long Island, N.Y. He received his undergraduate degree from the University of Connecticut, a law degree from Ohio Northern University, where he served as an associate editor of the law review, and a masters degree in environmental studies from Yale University.

He has twice been a Virginia statewide poetry finalist, published law journal articles on taxation, negligence and evidence, and is the creator of Slater Fine Art (slaterfineart.com), an online art gallery. He recently completed his second play, which is scheduled for production in the spring. Bruce is currently working on an illustrated book series.

Connect with Bill...





A Writer's Journey: THE Letter by T.W. Harvey

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