Posted in Author Meet Up, Meet the authors

Meet the author: Supriya Kelkar

• Author website/social media: www.supriyakelkar.com Twitter: @soups25    Instagram: @Supriya.Kelkar

Tell me a little about yourself: Born and raised in the Midwest, Supriya Kelkar learned Hindi as a child by watching three Bollywood films a week. Now she works in the film industry as a Bollywood screenwriter. Ahimsa, inspired by her great-grandmother’s role in the Indian freedom movement, is her debut middle grade novel.

1 When you were my age (8), did you like to read? I used to like to read the Babysitter’s Club series, books by Beverly Cleary and Roald Dahl, and a series of comic books from India called Amar Chitra Katha.

2 What was your favorite story? When I was younger, for several years my uncle and aunt would give me a Book of the Month Club membership for my birthday, Diwali and Rakhi presents. This was in the pre-Amazon days, so it was really exciting getting a package with books in it every month. I loved most of those books dearly and still have them all, so it’s hard for me to pick a favorite. I remember really loving the Babysitter’s Club books, Matilda, and Harriet the Spy.

3 How do you get your ideas? They usually come to me when I am trying to solve something for another project I’m working on at the time. Sometimes it can be a picture or an object that gives me the idea. Sometimes I wake up in the morning and inspiration strikes.

4 Is it hard to write a book? It is hard. But it isn’t impossible. It takes a lot of revising and you have to be willing to delete words and characters and chapters you really like. But in the end, it is worth it, when you have a story that works well.

5 Your book is based on your family experience. How did you get the information? I talked to my great-grandmother’s daughter, my great-aunt. I talked to my mom about family stories. And I read my great-grandmother’s biography, written by her husband, my great-grandfather.

6 When we met, you shared how you named your characters. Could you share it here? Yes! The main character, Anjali, is named after my mom. For the rest of the characters, most of them have names of family members from my parents’ or grandparents’ generations. I wanted to make sure they were names that would have existed in the 1940s.

7 What author do you really like right now? That’s a hard question to answer! I have so many favorites right now, that I have gotten to know over the past year. I absolutely adore the books written by all my fellow middle-grade debuts of 2017. I was also really floored by REFUGEE by Alan Gratz.

8 Do you have any new or lesser known authors you would suggest? I would highly recommend all the middle grade novels written by the 2017 debut authors. Ali Standish, Melissa Roske, Linda Williams Jackson, Kristin L. Gray, Karina Yan Glaser, Sarah Cannon, Dusti Bowling, Amanda Hosch, Beth Von Ancken McMullen, Karuna Riazi, Gareth Wronski, Leah Henderson, Patricia Bailey, Sally J. Pla…I could go on and on (there are 57 of us at last count!)

9 What advice do you have for a kid who wants to be an author? Read a lot of books, especially books in the genre you want to write, and keep writing and learning.

10 As an author, do you hear from your readers? What do you like about that? I do! I absolutely love getting to hear from readers that they connected with my book. It is the best feeling and makes my day!

Posted in Author Meet Up, Places I visit

A vacation recap

This past week I went on vacation with my family. We went to Orlando, Florida. We flew which is unusual for us. My parents usually drive us to our vacations. It was fun in the airport. Ours has a train, colorful tunnel and cool fountain.

Once in Orlando, we took a bus to Fort Wilderness to meet my grandparents. They joined us on vacation. The next four days I was at Disney World Parks.

It was very fun. My favorite ride was Haunted Mansion. At Animal Kingdom, it was Primeval Whirl. Also in Animal Kingdom, I liked the raft ride a lot! You can also do a fun activity called Wilderness Explorer throughout Animal Kingdom and learn about nature and conservation. I did a few activities but Little Brother did the entire book. He earned his Senior Explorer Badge.

In Disney Springs, we found a bakery that was ok for my brother and I to enjoy. We go cupcakes and donuts. They were so yummy. So look for Erin McKenna’s Bakery if you have allergies.

We also spent one day at Kennedy Space Center. It was very fun and neat to see real space ships. We went to the launch sites too.

The best part of my vacation was drumroll please…. meeting Mike Maihack! He held a talk at a library just so we could finally meet. He does a really good job explaining story telling and his process. He did reveal I have to wait longer for Cleopatra 5 (😭) but promises it is worth the wait.

Now I am back home. Tomorrow I go back to school – boo. I want vacation to be longer!

Posted in Author Meet Up, Meet the authors

Meet the Author: Wong Herbert Yee

http://wongherbertyee.blogspot.com

I was born in Detroit and have 4 sisters and 2 brothers. I found out I liked to draw (and was pretty good at it) in first grade. Being an author/illustrator you’d think my favorite class in school was art or english. WRONG! It was gym. Especially dodge ball!

1. When you were my age did you like to read? I did like to read as well. We didn’t have many books at home. Having library class once a week was a real treat. We took a book off the shelf, sat down and read for thirty minutes. I went through different phases. Dog stories; horse stories. After that came series books like Mrs. Piggle Wiggle and Dr. Doolittle.

2. Did you have a favorite story? I don’t know if I had a favorite… but a book I do remember was Angus and the Ducks by Majorie Flack. The fact that I even recall it must mean something, I think.

3. Where do you get your ideas from? I get my ideas from anywhere and everywhere. I think a common trait for writers is being observant. I don’t talk much, but do pay attention to what’s going on around me.

4. Is it hard to write/illustrate a book? I’ve always had ideas… for stories, or pictures. For most that’s the tough part. Afterwards it’s a matter of putting in the work. Getting good at whatever it is you want to do. Practice, practice, practice!

5.Why did you start a graphic novel series?  I started out with picture books. From there the Mouse and Mole early reader series. Doing a graphic novel was different, a new and exciting way of storytelling. Still, it doesn’t matter what kind of book I’m working on, so long as the story is a good one.

6. What author do you really like right now? The book I’m reading now is by Alan Bradley, hot off the press, the latest in the Flavia de Luce series.

7. What advice do you have for a kid who wants to be an author? This one’s easy, and a fitting last question. Read, read, READ! If you don’t like what you’re reading, stop, drop and pick out another. Pay attention to the stories that keep you turning the pages. It’s just the kind of book you might write some day!

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Posted in Author Meet Up, Meet the authors

Meet the author: Kelsey Fox

Author website/social media: www.booksbykelseyfox.com , https://www.facebook.com/WyattTheFox

•  Kelsey Fox lives in Royal Oak, MI with her husband Steve, her son Cody, five chickens and “Little Cat”!

• Kelsey graduated from Oakland University with an Elementary Education degree. After teaching many years, she fell in love with children’s books. Her experience in the classroom inspired her to start writing her own children’s stories.

All of Kelsey’s characters are based on students she has known through her teaching career, children of friends, and of course family. She loves to incorporate what she knows into her work because it make stories that the reader can relate to and teaches life lessons.

Kelsey’s active imagination and love of writing keep her busy. More stories from the “Wyatt” collection, as well as the introduction of new characters are on their way!

When you were my age, did you like to read? I LOVED to read! So much so, that as our reward for good grades or behavior we got to go to Borders and pick out what ever books we wanted to. We were not a big TV family and would stay up late reading all the time.

What was your favorite story? As far as younger books go, I really enjoy “Pete the Cat” and the “Pigeon” books by Mo Williams. Now, I like to read historical fiction and memoirs.

How do you get your ideas? I get my ideas from my everyday life. As a teacher, I encounter funny situations or little life lessons with my students and think ” Hey, that would be a great book!” and so my stories begin.

Is it hard to write/illustrate a book? Even though it’s a children’s book, and not very long or complex, it was still challenging to write. You have to know what a child is going to like, as well as make the story interesting enough for a parent to want to read it. I make sure to include “sight words” in my stories and market them as easy readers so they can be used in schools as teaching tools. I also take a lot of time creating the activity page that is at the end of my books. Checking that the child comprehends the message I am conveying was very important to me.

Do you have a favorite among the books you have written/illustrated? “Just try it Wyatt” my first book will always be my favorite no matter now many books I write. It took the most work and research to make, so will always be one I am most proud of. I currently have 4 books in the works so keep a look out!

What author do you really like right now? I think Diana Gabaldon is beyond imaginative. She writes the Outlander series. She takes history and makes it come alive!  I recently went to Scotland mainly because her books painted the country so beautifully. She did not disappoint!

What advice do you have for a kid who wants to be an author? I would tell them to just write anywhere and anytime. Don’t worry about the grammar or spelling until the end. As a writer, sometimes I just have to get all my ideas down so quickly that the work looks like a sloppy mess but it doesn’t matter! I am the only one who sees the crazy that is a rough draft. You have to enjoy what you do, and anyone can be a writer if they just try!

I do visit schools and all the information for booking an author visit can be found on my website or emailing me directly at booksbykelseyfox@gmail.com . I am already almost booked for “March is Reading Month” but have other dates in the school year still open!

Posted in Author Meet Up, Meet the authors

Meet the author: S. Ciara Mitaro

Author website/social media:  www.thegoodeggs.orgwww.facebook.com/readthegoodeggs, twitter: @thegoodeggsbook

Author bio:

I hold a Master of Arts degree from the University of Detroit Mercy and I currently teach morality, ethics and social justice courses at a private high school in Michigan. In addition to my teaching career, I have taught, developed, and implemented programs and curricula that focused on teaching children the importance of value-driven lives centered on love and the importance of living an altruistic life. The Good Eggs book series is a wonderful “trilogy” that underscores the important concepts of Virtues, Diversity, and Service – essential models for young people to integrate into their lives as they grow into Good Eggs!  I am very excited to promote this social enterprise, along with my husband, as we are passionate about helping children learn to be goodness in the world.  Each time we sell a book, we give one away to an underprivileged child/school.  This way, all children can enjoy the adventures of the Good Eggs!

1.  Yes! I have always loved to read – even before I could read, I would take a book and pretend I was reading it, making up a story to go along with the pictures.

2.  My favorite story was A Fish Out of Water, by Helen Palmer.

3.  I get my ideas from my imagination.  I was inspired at a young age; in 3rd and 4th grade, each week my teacher had us write a story using our spelling words.  That was my favorite assignment.  I came up with all kinds of adventures for inanimate objects.  It was so fun – I knew I wanted to write children’s stories when I grew up.

4.  It is not hard to write if you love it.  I would say the hardest thing to do is to get started.  Make sure to keep a notebook handy because ideas come to you when you least expect it, and you want to be sure to write them down to use later on.

5.  I love the entire Good Egg trilogy, but I would have to say my favorite one is the last one, The Good Eggs in The Community.  I say this because this last book ties all of the books together.  You see the Eggs grow over the course of three years, and they learn so much; it’s fun to see how everything fits together.  I actually shed a tear when I typed the last word.

6.  I haven’t had much time to read fiction (I am a teacher, so I read a lot of “teachy” books), but the last fiction story I read was The Fault in Our Stars, by John Greene.  I know that has been out for awhile, but I never read it (my students loved it, so I thought I would check it out).  It was very well done.  He has a new book coming out and I think I am going to check it out.  I read it on the beach this past summer.

7.  If you want to be an author, don’t give up on it.  Like I said before, keep that notebook handy so you can record your ideas.  Writing is a long process, so you need some patience.  And – don’t be afraid to change a story line and start over.  You will get there eventually; you’ll know when it’s just right.  Also, write about things you love because it will be a lot easier to have your ideas flow, but don’t be afraid to challenge yourself.  Research is invaluable to a good story.  Learn, learn, learn

Posted in Author Meet Up, Meet the authors

Meet the author: Joan Dee Wilson

*  Author website/social media: https://www.joandeewilson.com   and Face Book: https://www.facebook.com/thebluefooties/

Tell me a little about yourself: I think I was a young artist at heart, drawing a lot and continued through high school and college. After only a few years of college where I traversed between fine art, technical art, sculputure and advertising, I got my first art job helping to produce automotive ads and catalogs. From there I got married and started our family, raising three children who are now older and raising their own kids. I was always selective choosing what I read to my young ones then, many years after I retired, I shopped for books for my grandson and decided to write my own books. With my artist background, my love for birds and the research I’ve done on them, my bird characters have evolved.

When you were my age, did you like to read? Yes but I also spent a lot of time outside. I am from a large family and a lot was different than what it is today. Quiet time at home was a premium and much too seldom. I do remember looking forward to an afternoon at the Library.

2   What was your favorite story?The first books that come to mind were the Nancy Drew series, The Box Car Children and many more long forgotten.

3   How do you get your ideas? Ideas come to me when I’m doing other things. Like one evening w lost power I wrote much of my new book using a flash light under a tent of blankets. It was very cold.

4. Is it hard to write/illustrate a book? No. It is all I have to focus on these days.

5   Do you have a favorite among the books you have written/illustrated? Yes, Snowy Lodin. I am thinking about revising it this winter. I have an idea for continuing the story.

6   What author do you really like right now? There are so many I don’t feel it’s fair to ame just one.

7   What advice do you have for a kid who wants to be an author? Read. And ponder what you read. And be honest with yourself. If you think a particular read is not good – stand by your oppinion without going along with trends just because.

Posted in Author Meet Up, Meet the authors

Meet the author: Joe Spraga

Author website/social media:  https://joespraga.com/ / @joespraga (Twitter)

Tell me a little about yourself:  I am a graduate of Western Michigan University, with a Bachelor’s of Arts in English (Creative Writing) and a Minor in Philosophy.

When you were my age, did you like to read?  Yes, very much.

What was your favorite story?  The Very Hungry Caterpillar – (this is really cool-) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=75NQK-Sm1YY

How do you get your ideas?  My ideas honestly just pop into my head in a sing/song way. I have a very vivid/musical imagination.

Is it hard to write/illustrate a book?  If you just want to write a book, and you don’t know what about, it can be difficult. However, if you know what you want to write about, it’s easy. Of course we can always use practice to get better as we write/draw more and more. Although I did a series of paintings for my book, I hired a talented artist to take my paintings to a new level for the illustrations in my book.

Do you have a favorite among the books you have written/illustrated?  Just this one- The Snitch, The Witch, and The One Who Was Rich.

What author do you really like right now?  I am really into Oscar Wilde right now.

What advice do you have for a kid who wants to be an author?  Read a lot when you are young. When you are out and about just living your every day life, make those moments visual memories in your mind. Once you have a lot of memories, they will start to flow into a story with words, and you will find your voice!