Category Archives: Children’s author

Warm welcome to Joan Y. Edwards, author, illustrator and motivational speaker

It’s my great pleasure to welcome author, illustrator, and motivational speaker Joan Y. Edwards to Celtic Connexions.

joan y. edwards

I’m dying to know, when were you first bitten by the writing bug?

When I was five years old, My parents bought the 12 book collection called MY BOOK HOUSE edited by Olive Beaupre Miller and a Grimm’s Fairy Tales Book. Mother read me stories. Babysitters told me stories. I made up stories. I started reading these stories at four years old. I made up a folktale about a little duck, Flip Flap Floodle, who never gives up on his song. I told it to everyone who would listen: my sister, my baby brother in the crib, my cousins, and neighbours.

Flip Flap Floodle came to fruition. Can you tell us about it?

In 1967, when I was married and expecting my first child, I wrote the story down I tried for many years to get publishers to publish this book, but it didn’t happen. When I retired from teaching in 1998, I promised myself that I would illustrate Flip Flap Floodle and publish it in five years if no one said, “Yes. We will publish your book.”  So, in 2004, I self-published Flip Flap Floodle.

Flip Flap Floodle is a little duck who is on his way to play a song on his new flute for his grandmother. His mother warns him to watch out for Mr. Fox. Flip believes his song will keep him safe from Mr. Fox. However, when Mr. Fox doesn’t even like his song, Flip finds himself in deep trouble.

joan y. edwards

What prompted you to write your elder care guide?

When I started taking care of my Mother in 1995, there were no books and the only local resource was Social Services in the county where we lived in North Carolina. I learned through personal experience that the most essential thing for a caregiver is to have time away from caregiving responsibility. With that, it is doubly essential to leave plans for the person taking your place. They must know what the usual routine is and what your elder can and cannot do. Before Mother died in 2009, I thought maybe other people would like to have resources to help them take care of their elder and take care of themselves, too.

joan y. edwards

Was it difficult to make the jump from writing a picture book to a non-fiction guide for adults?

Going from 1,000 words to more than 150,000 words was very different. There were many subjects and many words and many ways to organize them.  Karen Cioffi-Ventrice, the second-editor 4RV Publishing assigned to me, helped me immensely with organizing it into a very helpful resource for caregivers.

Are you working on a book now? Can you tell us about it?

I am working on the second of a series of three Gospel-based crossword puzzles books to use with Children’s Liturgy, Children’s Church, Sunday School, or Home Bible Study. I am working on the illustrations for a chapter book, Larry, the Terrifying Turkey. I am reformatting a screenplay comedy, The Perfect Couple.

What advice do you have for writers beginning their author journe

My advice for beginning writers:

Read 100 books in your favourite genre.
Make note of your 10 favourite first lines.
Make note of your 10 favourite ending paragraphs.
Make note of 10 of the best setups and payoffs authors used to create a need for change in the main character.

In September 2018, I published the first of three Gospel-Based Crossword Puzzle books to use with Children’s Liturgy, Children’s Church, Sunday School, or Home Bible Study.

Anything else you care to share about Joan Y. Edwards that isn’t already included in your bio?

I worked one year and two summers for the Department of the Army at the Pentagon in Washington, D.C. to earn money to pay my tuition for my last 3 years of college. I had a job as a typist. My boss, Lt. Col. Solossi, said you aren’t sweet enough to call you, “Sugar.” You’re not sour enough to call you, “Sour.” You are a little spicy, so we’ll call you, “Ginger.”

I received the Best Character Actress at Western Carolina University in 1961 for my role as Mommy in the Sandbox by Edward Albee.

Joan Y. Edwards is a motivational speaker, author, and illustrator who informs, inspires, and helps others to laugh and never give up. Her blog, joanyedwards.com/ has more than 521,000 views. She is the author of three books: Flip Flap Floodle, Joan’s Elder Care Guide and 80 Gospel-Based Crossword Puzzles for Year B

Edwards has a Master of Arts in Education. She is a member of the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators (SCBWI), and the Charlotte Writers Club. She and her husband, Carl enjoy humorous mysteries, like Columbo and Monk. They love being with family and friends at home, in the mountains, and on the beach.

I had the pleasure of reading and reviewing Joan’s Elder Care Guide. This is my review.

Must have resource!

An invaluable resource for anyone who finds themselves looking after an elder. I wish it were available when I looked after my mother. While specifically written for a US audience, the same principles apply anywhere, maybe even some of the organizations exist in other countries – just under a different name.

PRINCESS BREEZE by Beverly Stowe McClure #CoverReveal

Woo hoo! I’m thrilled to reveal the cover of Beverly Stowe McClure’s novel, Princess Breeze – the sequel to Just Breeze!

princess breeze

I love this cover! Breeze looks so much more grown up here…

princess breeze

compared to how she looked when we first met her …princess breeze

So what’s the latest news with Breeze? Well, get a look at this…

For months, Breeze Brannigan has heard nothing from Cam, the prince she met at school, who disappeared one night, without telling her goodbye. On the night she graduates from middle school, however, he contacts her and invites her to visit Isla del Fuego, his home. Who could refuse such an invitation?

Breeze along with her whole family and best friends, Amy and Allison, soon sail to the island, where she and Cam renew their friendship. But danger lurks; a legend comes to life, and Breeze finds herself in the middle of a battle that can have one winner.

About the author

princess breeze

Most of the time, you’ll find Award-Winning Author Beverly Stowe McClure at her computer, typing stories young voices whisper in her ears.  When she’s not writing, she’s snapping pictures of wildlife, flowers, and clouds. She’s affectionately known as the “Bug Lady.” She’s not telling why. To relax she plays the piano. Her fur babies don’t appreciate good music and hide when she tickles the ivories.

Beverly is a member of the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators. She also teaches a women’s Sunday school class at her church.

You can find Beverly here at her WordPress blog: beverlystowemcclure.wordpress.com

or on Blogger at beverlystowemcclure.blogspot.com

LITTLE KITTY THE CAT BURGLAR by Caterina Longtail #Alzheimer’s #giveaway

Caterina Longtail

Little Kitty the Cat Burglar

by

Caterina Longtail

Caterina Longtail

Genre: Children’s Fiction

Release Date: 5th September 2015

Little Kitty wouldn’t exactly call herself a cat burglar. She just likes to bring back the occasional gift for her humans… A lovely story for younger readers and adults alike – perfect for reading together. Beautifully illustrated by Catie Atkinson and designed by Rachel Lawston.

WHATS SO SPECIAL ABOUT THE BOOK?

The book was written by a group of authors who donated their time free of charge. Each author wrote a chapter of the book. 100% proceeds of the sale of the book are donated to Alzheimer’s Research UK. The authors are: Suzan Collins, Tottie Limejuice, Jo Wilde, JB Johnston, Lucy Rayner, Ros Lyons, Ann Bowyer and Tracy Terry. Together, they became known as Caterina Longtail! The book was edited by Jaine Keskeys.

ABOUT ALZHEIMER’S RESEARCH UK

Caterina Longtail

Check out Alzheimer’s Research UK http://www.alzheimersresearchuk.org/

‘We are the UK’s leading research charity aiming to defeat dementia. We power world class studies that give us the best chance of beating dementia sooner.

Our pioneering work focuses on prevention, treatment and cure. We are energising a movement across society to support, fund and take part in dementia research. We aim to empower people across all generations through greater understanding of dementia. Together we have the power to defeat dementia.’

Alzheimer’s disease is the most common cause of dementia, but there are other types of dementia too. It is possible to have more than one type of dementia at the same time. Alzheimer’s is sometimes seen with vascular dementia or dementia with Lewy bodies. You might hear this called ‘mixed dementia’. (all info taken from Alzheimer’s Research UK website)

 

GIVEAWAY

A paperback copy of the book

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Organization is essential when travelling…

… no matter where you’re going – business, pleasure – organization is the key. It’s taken us the better part of the summer to come up with the way to pack the car so that everything fits in for our assorted “goods and chattels” that we haul to and from outdoor events.

black beauty

If not Black Beauty (pictured above), it’s the older sibling “Big Red” a 2006 version of the same car – 2-door Chevy Cobalt – that we use to go to the markets.

Other vendors have told me, they can’t believe how much I can get in to such a small space. I say the vehicle is just like Mary Poppins’ magic carpet bag.

This past Sunday when we loaded up to come home from the Mallorytown Country Market, I documented each step in the process. And yes, we used Big Red. It’s home every day and can be kept partially loaded during the week as I use Black Beauty for my work commute. And, hubby is retired so he came up with a way that he can get all the assorted accoutrements to fit in the trunk (boot) of this one.

organization

 

First in, the two boxes of canopy weights. They look much better than bags of bricks, water bottles, and any other heavy object you can anchor yourself down with. (The bottle of windshield washer fluid is a permanent fixture.) Setting up and tearing down does create some mess… dried dirt from parking lots (car parks) and bits of dried grass and leaves from natural settings.

organization

First in is the folded six-foot table.

organization

Followed by the smaller four-foot one. I know you’re thinking, why not put it in with the handle where you can reach it. We’ve tried turning it the 90 degrees and the rest of the stuff just doesn’t fit.

Add the smaller totes of books…

organization

organization

Followed by the table clothes and two of the larger totes. Keep watching… it gets better.

organization

Add another tote of promotional material, containing postcards, business cards, bookmarks and my assorted easels and business card holders for price tags etc., (even some WD40 for when the canopy gets a bit stiff)… but we’re not done yet. My author banner is tucked in there nicely on one side and so is my illuminated Secret of Hillcrest House sign.

organization

Add the box of tools (screwdrivers, lock nut remover for the wheels, and other assorted goods and sundries, most importantly the cash box) and that’s the trunk packed. Pretty amazing, eh?

Moving on to the back seat…

organization

There’s a folded tarp, and one of the white side panels for my “Wonderful White” canopy, my lovely squishy, anti-fatigue mats for venues on pavement, and two folding chairs.

organization

Fold up the canopy and shove it in on top of the chairs. Even my funky “bag holder” a piece of 4×4 with coat hooks on each side has a place…

organization

And finally, my purse and bag that has all my extra goodies in it (batteries and cables for my debit machine, wet wipes, safety pins, ledger that I keep track of my sales and mileage…)

This past Sunday, there was even room for a bag of corn on the cob and my track shoes (after Saturday’s rain, I wanted to be prepared for wet grass).

 

 

Chesterville ~ November 7th

Today’s stop on my fall/winter tour was at the Royal Canadian Legion in Chesterville, Ontario.

This is the second time I’ve done this event and it was so much fun the first time around last year, that I had to come back.

My strings of battery-operated LED lights are wrapped around the books although they don’t show up well in these photos.

The plan was to bring along my inspiration board for A Shadow in the Past – I packed the easel in the car, but wouldn’t you know it – I forgot the inspiration board. I realized that shortly after getting on the highway and wasn’t about to come back for it. Oh well, I’ve got plenty more shows remaining this year so I’ll just have to remember to put it in the trunk of the car.

Chesterville
My display
Chesterville
My display
Chesterville
Me with my display

All in all, it was a great day. I met many interesting people, including a friend of my mum.

I sold 3 copies of A Shadow in the Past, 3 copies of Tim’s Magic Christmas and 2 copies of The Consequences Collection.

I’ll definitely be back here again… that is, if they’ll have me.

WEIRD NOISES IN THE NIGHT by Beverly Stowe McClure ~ COVER REVEAL

weird noises in the nightBlurb:

Weird noises in the night send the imaginations of three young girls soaring. Is it the rain, a dragon, an alien from outer space, or a ghost? As Olivia and her best friends seek the source of the sound, they discover that the truth is not as scary as their imaginations.
~~~~~~~~~~
Title: WEIRD NOISES IN THE NIGHT
Publisher: Guardian Angel Publishing
Illustrator: Eugene Ruble
Print ISBN: 9781616336066;1616336064
eBook ISBN: 9781616336073;1616336072
Ages: 6-9
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Links:
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About the Author:
weird noises in the night
Most of the time, you’ll find Beverly in front of her computer, writing the stories little voices whisper in her ear. When she’s not writing, she takes long walks and snaps pictures of clouds, wild flowers, birds and deer. To some of her friends, she is affectionately known as the “Bug Lady” because she rescues butterflies, moths, walking sticks, and praying mantis from her cats.

For twenty-two years Beverly taught children in grades two through five how to read and write. They taught her patience. Now, she teaches a women’s Sunday school class at her church. To relax she plays the piano. Her cats don’t appreciate good music and run and hide when she tickles the ivories.

For a chance to win a PDF or Paperback copy of the book answer the question: What do you think the weird noise is that the girls hear? 

 

Brady’s Lost Blanket by Stephanie Burkhart

BradysLostBlanketCover.inddBLURB:

Brady is a sensitive young boy who takes his blankie wherever he goes. After traveling with his parents to visit his new cousin, Brady accidently leaves his blanket behind. Can Brady learn to get by without his blankie?

~~~~~~~~~~

Welcome to Celtic Connexions, Stephanie. I’m always happy to host a fellow 4RV author here. I’m sure everyone wants to know the story behind the book and more…

What inspired you to write the story?

One of my husband’s relatives mentioned their grandchild had a blankie and was having a hard time without it. I drew on my own childhood memories of having a blankie. I think letting go of the blankie is the first step in growing up.

How long did it take?

It took about a week to write the story. I have to thank 4RV Publishing for publishing Brady’s Lost Blanket. It took about 2 weeks back and forth with the editing.

Did you pick the illustrator?

No, I did not. 4RV Publishing selected the illustrator. I think Bridget McKenna did a great job with the illustrations. They have a very whimsical feel and compliment the story well.

What makes this book special?

Brady’s Lost Blanket has a message for all young children who become attached to “something” (be it a blanket or something else) because they want to feel secure. It’s okay to let go of our “security” nets and move forward. It maybe a little scary at first, but once you go without it, you learn you can live without it.

How long have you been writing children’s books?

About 5 years now. My first children’s book, “The Giving Meadow” was published with 4RV Publishing in 2010. It has a great message about sharing and caring for young children as well as telling about Caterpillar’s transformation into a butterfly. It’s perfect for Easter as it helps young children understand Jesus’ story.

~~~~~~~~~~

My review:

Brady’s Lost Blanket is a delightful children’s story about growing up and moving on from the security of a ‘blankie’ to not needing it anymore.

It’s a well-written book and thoughtfully told story.

~~~~~~~~~~

Inspiration comes in small packages

By: Stephanie Burkhart

One of my husband’s relatives told me a story about her grandchild who was attached to his blankie. He left it behind when he was visiting relatives and was having a hard time without it. That brought back memories of the time when I was a young girl and had a blankie. My blankie was soft blue with silk blue trim. I loved to rub it against my face. It was very soothing. My blankie was my security net. It was always there for me. I could count on it to relax my ruffled feelings or frustration – until it mysteriously disappeared. One day, when I was five, my blankie turned up missing. I had no idea what happened to it. I felt “out of sorts,” “uncomfortable,” and “anxious.” (My mother hid it on me. She decided it was time for me to learn how to get along without it.)

Those first couple of days without blankie was rough, but I soon learned other age appropriate coping stragedies. I played with Barbie and her Beach van. I picked up a book. I began coloring. I loved playing with Matchbox cars. Soon my imagination grew and I didn’t need blankie anymore.

Giving up blankie was my first step to growing up.

Brady’s Lost Blanket is about taking that first step. It’s a great message for children. Growing up isn’t easy. There are all kinds of challenges, but learning how to get along without a blankie is usually the first one a child faces. In the story, Brady has a lot of support from his parents who offer him other ways to deal with the anxiety of losing his blanket. I hope that when other children read the story they realize that while it may be upsetting at first, letting go of blankie and embracing new things can be fun and they’ll be all right.

ABOUT STEPHANIE:

steph7Stephanie Burkhart was born and raised in Manchester, New Hampshire, but now calls California her home. She currently works for LAPD as a 911 Dispatcher. Stephanie has been writing since she was five, when she crafted homemade comic books on the kitchen table. Her previous books with 4RV Publishing include: The Giving Meadow, and First Flag of New Hampshire.  Stephanie enjoys coffee, adores chocolate and is currently the Den Leader for her son’s Cub Scout Den.

BRADY’S LOST BLANKET is available in print from 4RV Publishing.

BUY LINKS:

4RV PUBLISHING BOOKSTORE

AMAZON

BARNES & NOBLE

FIND STEPHANIE ON THE WEB AT:

WEBSITE

TWITTER

FACEBOOK

GOOD READS

YOU TUBE CHANNEL

PINTEREST

Did you have a blankie growing up? Did you know someone who had a blankie?

Preditors & Editors Readers’ Poll is now open

Preditors & Editors Readers’ Poll for 2013 is now open

Once again my publisher – 4RV Publishing – is nominated in the Preditors & Editors Readers’ Poll in a number of categories. Voting is easy. Click on the link beside each category listed below, select the 4RV title/author/artist etc., then scroll to the bottom of the page and enter your name and email address. And to confirm you’re not a spammer, enter the author’s name in the box beside the thumbnail of the book cover that’s there. You’ll receive a confirmation email with a link in it. Simply click on it to confirm your vote. (My debut novel, A Shadow in the Past, finished 3rd in its category in the 2012 P&E Readers’ Poll.)

4RV Publishing is nomininated in the following Preditors & Editors Readers’ Poll categories:

Other novels:

A Wandering Warrior by Harry Gilleland – http://critters.org/predpoll/novel.shtml

Young Adult novels:

Taking the High Ground by Amy Alessio http://critters.org/predpoll/novelyoungadult.shtml

Children’s books:

I Like Pink by Vivian Zabel http://critters.org/predpoll/novelchildrens.shtml

Book/eBook cover art:

A Wandering Warrior Aidana WillowRaven http://critters.org/predpoll/bookart.shtml (Aidana did the gorgeous cover for A Shadow in the Past)

Author:

Vivian Zabel http://critters.org/predpoll/author.shtml

Print/electronic book Publisher:

4RV Publishing http://critters.org/predpoll/ebookpublisher.shtml

Artist:

Ginger Nielson http://critters.org/predpoll/artist.shtml

Print/eBook editor:

Carla Ralston http://critters.org/predpoll/bookeditor.shtml Carla was my editor for A Shadow in the Past and we had a great editor/author relationship.

Bookstore

4RV Publishing http://critters.org/predpoll/bookstore.shtml

It would be great to see 4RV finish first in each category but in order for that to happen, they need your votes. Only one vote per category, too. The Preditors & Editors Readers’ Poll closes January 14, so don’t delay.

 

Introducing TWIG STORIES author Jo Marshall

If I may first thank you, Melanie, for being such a gracious host and sharing a little about my four book collection called Twig Stories with your friends. It’s exciting for me to know an author of Scottish descent who embraces her heritage the way you do, and learn more about your ancestors’ beautiful country, its history, and culture.

What made you decide to write children’s books?

A few years ago I first became aware of climate change impacting the wildlife and forests where I live in the Pacific Northwest in the US. My young daughter, Ali Jo, and I had recently taken a trip to British Columbia in western Canada, and witnessed entire forests dying from infestations by mountain pine beetles – insects which normally die off in the cold winters. The warmer temperatures now allowed them to multiply into swarms and attack trees by the millions. In 3rd grade Ali Jo also began studying animals in our region threatened with extinction due to a changing climate like the alpine pika, woodland caribou, wolverine, Kermode bear or ‘spirit’ bear, horned lark, and so many others. The effects of global warming were overwhelming for her and her young friends. We felt there must be a more personal approach to understanding it. We had always joked about tiny, stick creatures living in the old growth forest behind our house, and began to wonder how they might battle climate change. So we decided to create stories about these creatures we called Twigs. Naturally, we wanted to share the royalties with conservation nonprofits. It was just one way to contribute to their research and youth programs. It was very much a conspiracy of creativity by Ali Jo and me.

You incorporate environmental issues into your stories, is it difficult to do without sounding preachy?

Well, Twig Stories are primarily fun and thrilling fantasies about a boyish Twig named Leaf and his companions – other Twigs and creatures of the forest, glaciers, and prairies. There are underlying themes of caring for wildlife and unusual impacts created by climate change, but they are secondary to the exciting adventures of Twigs and animals in the wild. Any author who writes eco literature uses the natural world to tell their stories, and Twig Stories books offer this same approach. A reader’s concern about global warming and its impacts will grow only because of Leaf’s unexpected journeys into climate crisis. And if a young reader simply enjoys Leaf’s exploits without realizing anything about the underlying themes, then that is wonderful, too.

Do you write in any other genres?

No, writing children’s eco literature books keep me busy enough.

Are you currently working on a project? If so, can you tell us a bit about it?

I’m working on Leaf & Echo Peak, the fourth book in the Twig Stories collection. In this story global warming reaches its tipping point. The threatened eruption of Echo Peak warns of an extreme climate on the horizon. Yet, Twigs are resourceful and find new ways of living. Along with the plants and animals in the forest, they adapt. Echo Peak will be finished and published in 2014.

If your followers are interested, the Twig Stories books are:

Twig Stories ~ Leaf & the Rushing Waters ~ front coverLeaf & the Rushing Waters ~ An outburst flood from a melting glacier traps Leaf’s family in their tree-home, so Leaf and his friend Rustle search for goliath beavers to build a mighty dam. In reality, beaver dams are natural solutions to mitigate worsening flood and drought due to unusual climate shifts.

 

 

 

 

Twig Stories ~ Leaf & the Sky of Fire ~ front coverLeaf & the Sky of Fire ~ Leaf attempts a fool-hardy rescue of six Twig babes in the North Forest from swarms of mountain pine beetles, which in the real world have already destroyed entire forests in western North America. The dying trees infested by ‘barkbiters’ also create horrific wildfires.

 

 

 

 

Twig Stories ~ Leaf & the Long Ice ~ front coverLeaf & the Long Ice ~ Leaf must journey to the shrinking glacier of Echo Peak to find his runaway brothers, Buddy and Burba. During this wild, funny adventure we learn many rare creatures of the ice may go extinct without their alpine habitat. The loss of the glacier’s ice and fresh water is inevitable.

 

 

 

 

Thank you so much, Melanie. Wishing you the best of luck and great success with your exciting, e-book launch of your novel A Shadow in the Past. It’s wonderful to know you and your fans of Celtic Connexions!

Here are some links:

Twig Stories website: http://www.twigstories.com
Amazon.com author page: http://www.amazon.com/author/jo.marshall
Facebook book page: http://facebook.com/twigstoriesbooks
Facebook author page: http://facebook.com/twigstories
Twitter & Pinterest: @TwigStories

KINDLES

LEAF & THE RUSHING WATERS by Jo Marshall ~ http://www.amazon.com/Leaf-Rushing-Waters-Stories-ebook/dp/B006K9NO3A/ref=tmm_kin_title_0?ie=UTF8&qid=1350875144&sr=1-1
LEAF & THE SKY OF FIRE by Jo Marshall ~ http://www.amazon.com/Leaf-Fire-Twig-Stories-ebook/dp/B004VTCCHU/ref=tmm_kin_title_0?ie=UTF8&qid=1350875144&sr=1-2
LEAF & THE LONG ICE by Jo Marshall ~ http://www.amazon.com/Leaf-Long-Ice-Stories-ebook/dp/B00B4I88BU/ref=sr_1_1?s=digital-text&ie=UTF8&qid=1358957126&sr=1-1&keywords=leaf+%26+the+long+ice

PAPERBACKS

Leaf & the Rushing Waters http://www.amazon.com/Leaf-Rushing-Waters-Twig-Stories/dp/1461135788/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1322030239&sr=1-1
Leaf & the Sky of Fire http://www.amazon.com/Leaf-Sky-Fire-Twig-Stories/dp/145630092X/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&qid=1306174492&sr=8-2
Leaf & the Long Ice http://www.amazon.com/Leaf-Long-Ice-Twig-Stories/dp/1480080888/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1357668543&sr=1-1&keywords=leaf+%26+the+long+ice

EchoPkfrontcvr - croppedLeaf & Echo Peak will be out in 2014!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

About the Author:

JoMarshall.PHOTOJo Marshall lives in the Pacific Northwest near volcanoes and rainforests.  She spent seven years as a literacy tutor for young readers. In 1986, Jo earned a B.A. in German Language and Literature from the University of Maryland in West Berlin, and worked as a diplomatic liaison for the military command.  From 1999 to 2006, she worked in D.C. for two nonprofits as their Legal Assistant to the General Counsel – the Paralyzed Veterans of America and Oceana.  Jo is a member of the Society of Environmental Journalists, and many conservation nonprofits. She resides in Snohomish, Washington with her family.

 

 

Interview with Vivian Zabel, Founder/Owner of 4RV Publishing

Fellow 4RV author, Holly Jahangiri, recently interviewed Vivian Zabel. They chatted about the company and the exciting PUSH It Forward Contest that Staples is running in support of small business.

You can read Holly’s interview below, or on her blog at this link.

Interview with Vivian Zabel by Holly Jahangiri. (reprinted with kind permission)

I recently chatted with my friend Vivian Zabel, founder of 4RV Publishing, the company that published my first two children’s books, Trockle and A Puppy, Not a Guppy.

“Tell me a little bit about 4RV Publishing,” I asked.

“4RV Publishing came into being when as an author I realized that writing had few choices: a major publisher through an agent, subsidy publishing, self-publishing, or vanity presses. I wanted the opportunity for good writers to be able to have quality books published, traditionally. Authors also deserved to have a personal connection to the company that adopted their ‘babies.’” Vivian smiled, knowing that’s the number one reason I chose 4RV Publishing for Trockle, a story which I had written for my son and one that I did not want to sell all rights to or lose all creative say over.

“How many books do you publish each year?”

“How many we publish each year depends on several conditions: staff availability, funding needed, and what submissions are worth producing. In the less than six years we’ve been in existence, we have published a total of 101 books, some of which are no longer under contract (we put a limit on the number of years we have publication rights). We have 26 more titles to prepare and publish this year. We’ve had to close submissions for children’s picture books until 2015, except for authors under contract or invited to submit, because our illustrators can only do so many books during a year.”

Staples is celebrating small businesses in May and they are awarding digital marketing prize packages each worth $50,000 to three small businesses as part of the Staples PUSH It Forward Contest. 4RV Publishing has entered this contest, and you can help! By voting every day for your favorite small business, you increase your odds of being randomly selected to win a $1,500 Staples Voter Prize Package.

Voting ends May 31.

Link to vote for 4RV Publishing: http://tinyurl.com/a7hrdmv

“What awards has 4RV Publishing or its books won?”

“We have received a number of awards and honors the past few years,” said Vivian. Asking her to talk about the accolades earned by books her company has published seems to give her almost as much pleasure as asking her to talk about her grandchildren’s accomplishments. “The most recent were two books which received the Children’s Classical Literature Choice Award: Life on Hold by Beverly Stowe McClure – a book is now in the running for another CCL award – and Walking Through Walls by Karen Cioffi, illustrated by Aidana WillowRaven, which won a CCL silver medal also. Viji Chary’s Porcupine Seeds, illustrated by Bridget McKenna, received the Mom’s Choice Award for Excellence.

“The 2009 Oklahoma Book Award for Fiction went to Kirk Bjornsgarrd for Confessions of a Former Rock Queen.

“We had a number of books place in the Homeland New Day book competition: your book, Trockle, illustrated by Jordan Vinyard, took 1st in Children’s Books, and A Puppy, not a Guppy, illustrated by Ryan Shaw, received 2nd in Tween books. Another author’s books took 1st in Novel and in Young Adult. One book received 2nd place at the North Texas Book Festival. Aldric & Anneliese, by Harry E. Gilleland, received honors from the Military Writers organization. Time Pullers, by Horton Deakins, placed in the top five for the USA Book Awards for Science Fiction. We have books entered in other competitions that haven’t released the winners list yet.”

“‘Another author’s books’? Don’t you remember the titles and who wrote them?” I pressed. I know Vivian doesn’t forget the names of the authors who’ve written award-winning books published by 4RV Publishing. It turns out, they were hers.

“Sure, I remember the titles: 1st in Novel was Midnight Hours by…me. 1st in Young Adult was Prairie Dog Cowboy by…me; 2nd at North Texas was Base Stealers Club by…me.”

I laughed. Vivian is a retired teacher, a mom, and a grandmother. She’s proud of her own books, but would rather shine the spotlight on others’ accomplishments. As the owner of 4RV Publishing, those are the kudos she’d rather promote. Next, I asked the million-dollar question: “Do you charge authors anything to publish their books?”

Vivian shook her head. “No, we do not charge authors anything to publish their books, or for any of the services needed to prepare their books once under contract.”

“I hear things are kind of rough in the publishing industry, these days – even some of the big publishing houses are opening subsidy imprints.”

“One reason publishers get in financial difficulties is the return policy. If a bookstore orders many more copies than they know they will sell, they can return left over copies years and years later and have their money returned. Publishers have to pay that money back, either through Ingram or their own distribution system. 4RV finally did away with returns after being hit with a huge bill for books returned that we could find no record of being bought, much less when they were bought. Major publishers pay millions every year for returned books. Of course that hurts. People aren’t buying books as much as they once did, and it has nothing to do with eBooks being available. It’s the economy. So many Big Guys are opening subsidy imprints. They need the income.”

“So why don’t you do the same?”

“Yes, we need the income, too, but we want the best books possible to be under our imprint. Once we accept payment for doing our job, putting out quality books, we lose at least some control over what is published under our name. We want the authors who deserve to be published to have their books in print and then in electronic format without a black mark against their names, which, no matter what some people say, still exists for self-published books. We try to give our authors the best chance to be successful we can.”

“Is it true that even the editors and illustrators work for royalties? So if books don’t sell well, they don’t get paid, either?”

“True and true. However, the owner of the company doesn’t even take royalties, nor does the head of the editorial department. We believe in the company enough that we leave what earnings we have in 4RV. What staff we have are dedicated to our cause. Of course we lose people quite often. They use 4RV to build a good resume and go on to bigger and better things. I can’t blame them, just ask they leave nicely without putting the company in a bind with unfinished projects. However, some stay even when they get positions elsewhere and do a few projects a year.”

“You’re an author, too – does owning the publishing house mean automatic acceptance and fast-track to print for your books?”

“Excuse me as I laugh. All submissions are sent to acquisition editors anonymously, no identification anywhere on the manuscript. One of my submissions was rejected — yep, rejected with malice. The head of the editorial department asked if the manuscript should be sent to a different acquisition editor, and I said, “No, she had valid reasons, and when I have time, I’ll revise and resubmit.” I’ve never had time. In fact, since 4RV was created, I have had only five books published by the company, and they were back when we had few submissions. I will have the first book come out later this summer, the first since early 2010, and it was in the works for three years.”

“So, 4RV is entered into the Staples PUSH It Forward Contest – what would you do with the prize money if you win?” Personally, I can’t think of many businesses that are more deserving of this “push” from Staples.

Vivian has big ideas on a shoestring budget. $50,000 lets her dream bigger – and lesser-known authors stand to benefit, too. “We need to upgrade all our technology and use digital accounting and record keeping. We would be able to create more eBooks. We need to hire people trained in digital marketing and promote our books even more effectively. The prize money from Staples would give us the “push” we need to compete in today’s publishing world.”

Help 4RV Publishing Win Staples’ PUSH It Forward Contest

You can help a deserving small business win $50,000 – and maybe win $1500 for yourself, while you’re at it! Voting is easy:

  1. Go to http://tinyurl.com/a7hrdmv – this is Staples’ Facebook page already set up for you to vote for 4RV Publishing. If you have not already “Liked” Staples’ page on Facebook, that’s the first step; please click the Like button:

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  1. Next, you’ll be taken to this page, where you can Vote for 4RV Publishing – just click Vote now > :4rv-staples-2-300x169You will be asked to give Staples’ app some permissions (Might as well – you can always revoke them later, but they ask only for access to your public profile data – something everyone can see, already – and to your friends’ list, presumably so that you can share this with them and promote the contest via Facebook. I have plenty of friends participating and have not seen any of them “spamming” me in the name of Staples, so I feel pretty confident in granting the requested permissions.)

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  1. Last, but not least, when you vote, you’ll have a chance to enter to win $1500 for yourself – how cool is that? Just for helping a small business achieve more. We could all use this kind of “push,” right?

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Want Some Good Books?

Shop direct from the 4RV Publishing book store from the comfort of  home at http://4rvpublishingcatalog.com (many of these titles can also be found on Amazon and BN.com, as well, though I prefer to shop direct when possible).

Submissions guidelines can be found at http://www.4rvpublishing.com/manuscript-art-submissions.php

Questions?

I’ll bet Vivian Zabel pops over here from time to time, and would be happy to answer them! You might also enjoy reading her blogs: 4RV Reading, Writing, & Art News or Brain Cells & Bubble Wrap.