Tag Archives: Children’s Books

Meet Anita Banks, Author of ‘Tanner Builds a Block Tower’

Please welcome debut children’s author Anita Banks. Anita harbored her secret of writing since she was in junior high school where the desire took seed in a creative writing class. She enjoys journaling, reading, running and traveling, but nothing compares to playing with her grandchildren. She’s here today to talk about her new picture book, Tanner Builds a Block Tower.

When did you decide you wanted to become an author?

That was a dream career when I was in junior high school after a creative writing class, but Iife and family took over. Then a couple of years ago the seed sprouted full force and I have been taken writing classes and workshops.

 Were you an avid reader as a child? What type of books did you enjoy reading?

I loved reading, I began with Dr. Seuss and Dick and Jane. Then moved to a collection of Bobbsey Twins and Nancy Drew that my mother had collected.

Tell us a bit about your latest book, and what inspired you to write such a story.

This is my first book, I so excited! Tanner Builds a Block Tower is about a little boy who is  determined to build a tower with his blocks. But on the way to his destination he gets distracted  by different animals and insects. He also loses some of his blocks. So he has to find them to finish  what he started.

The inspiration for this book was my grandson, Tanner. On a visit to see him when he was about three years old, he loved to play with his building blocks and build towers, over and over. He was  fascinated with this repetitive play. We also went on numerous walks, he loved to explore the outdoors, and still does. So it seemed a natural fit to combine the two activities.

How would you describe your creative process while writing this book? Was it stream-of-consciousness writing, or did you first write an outline?

I had the idea when I signed up for a workshop, Walking on a Rainbow, a fiction Picture Book Workshop. The workshop was wonderful with the instruction and inspiration.

Did your book require a lot of research?

Playing with my grandson was wonderful research.

Anita 2Who is your target audience?

This is a preschool picture book, so I hope children enjoy hearing the story and a book that parents and grandparents would enjoy reading it to them.

What will the reader learn after reading your book?

Determination and perseverance is the theme of this book, I hope that’s what comes through.

What type of writer are you—the one who experiences before writing, like Hemingway, or the one who mostly daydreams and fantasizes?

I mostly think it first, then maybe over think it before words get on the paper, or screen. I am still learning my process.

Agatha Christie got her best ideas while eating green apples in the bathtub. Steven Spielberg says he gets his best ideas while driving on the highway. When do you get your best ideas and why do you think this is?

The idea for Tanner Builds a Block Tower, came while watching him play. Another story idea has been interacting with my three year old granddaughter. So far, they have been my best ideas.

From the moment you conceived the idea for the story, to the published book, how long did it take?

I took the picture book workshop in 2011, the release of the book is this summer, 2914. Almost three years.

Do you write non-stop until you have a first draft, or do you edit as you move along?

It’s been a mixture, I try to get a first draft done. But I tend to edit too much as I go along.

As a writer, what scares you the most?

Not believing I have any ability to write something that anyone else would enjoy.

How was your experience in looking for a publisher? What words of advice would you offer those novice authors who are in search of one?

Savvy Authors was having a pitch contest and I pitched my story to an editor for Wee Creek Press, Melanie Billings. She asked to read the story and then made the offer. Woohoo.

I was excited to say the least, that was September last year, and the book is now available this June, on Amazon and B&N.com.

Do you have a website/blog where readers may learn more about you and your work?

I have a brand new website that I may building, I would love for you to visit and tell me what you think:    http://www.anitabanks.com

Do you have another book on the works? Would you like to tell readers about your current or future projects?  

I have two more picture books that I am shopping out, and I am working on a chapter book currently.

Thanks for stopping by! It was a pleasure to have you here!

Thank you so much for having me.

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A Christmas Kindness Book Blast – Win a $25 Amazon Gift Card

Title: A Christmas Kindness
Genre: First chapter reader
Author: Cheryl Malandrinos
Publisher: 4RV Publishing
Pages: 24
Language: English
ISBN – 978-0985266141

Eight-year-old Robert is eager to share his wish list with Santa at the mall on Christmas Eve. When he meets Glenn, who has only one request for Santa, Robert is confused over what he should do. Can he cast aside what he wants and ask Santa to bring his new friend a special gift?

Inside the mall, Christmas music and the tinkling of jingle bells tickled Robert’s ears. With his mother, Robert weaved through the crowd of shoppers. He smelled fried food from Burger Mart. The sweet scent of warm chocolate chip cookies from the bakery made his mouth water.

Watch the trailer: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YvW-tUyxDq8

Purchase your copy:

C.C Gevry is a children’s author from Western Massachusetts. A Christmas Kindness is her first book with 4RV Publishing. She is also a member of the SCBWI. Ms. Gevry is married with two young children and a son who is married. Visit her online at http://ccgevry.com

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A Christmas Kindness Book Blast Schedule
December 4
Book review at IE Mommy
Book Blast w/ Giveaway at Blooming with Books
Book Blast w/ Giveaway at 4 the Love of Books
Book Blast w/ Giveaway at My Devotional Thoughts
Book Blast w/ Giveaway at Lynn’s Corner
Book Blast w/ Giveaway at Mayra’s Secret Bookcase
Book Blast w/ Giveaway at The Story of a Writer
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Book Blast w/ Giveaway at Naturally Kim

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Interview with Dr. Jackie C. Cogswell, Author of Super Luke Faces His Bully

Dr. Jackie Chirco Cogswell is a family physician, wife, mother, former school teacher, and now author of a series of Christian children’s novels, the GIGGLEHEART ADVENTURE SERIES. Writing Christian books and reading the Bible has become her passion.

In recent years, Dr. Jackie has been led to teach children of all ages how to prevent and stop bullying. As a Christian mother, the issue of bullying became very personal to her when her child was bullied in elementary school. Through the many struggles her son had with bullies, Dr. Jackie learned from firsthand experience how to tackle bullying from a Christian perspective. SUPER LUKE FACES HIS BULLY was inspired by her son’s personal struggle and the good Lord, “Who equips us for every battle and gives us strength.”

Visit Dr. Jackie only at www.giggleheart.com.

Q: Thank you for this interview, Dr. Jackie. Can you tell us what your latest book, Super Luke Faces His Bully, is all about?

Thank you for this interview opportunity!

Super Luke Faces His Bully  takes the reader on a journey through the eyes of a fun-loving boy, Luke Giggleheart.  Luke had always dreamed of becoming a big, brave super hero.  Even though he was equipped with a fun super hero cape and “innocent citizens” to protect, his dreams came crashing down when he found himself shoved into a locker by the notorious school bully, Bulldog Jones!

During this adventure, Luke discovers how to be brave enough to tell caring adults about his bully so that they could help stop the abuse.

One of the best parts of the story is when Luke discovers how to get his heart bully-proofed when he exchanged his fears for courage by trusting in Jesus Christ!  Bulldog Jones also experiences a change in attitude when his heart was touched by the love and kindness of a real Savior!

Q:  Can you tell us a little about your main and supporting characters?

Luke Giggleheart is an eight year old, tender hearted boy.  Luke was sweet, timid and shaky in his sneakers when it came to dealing with aggressive kids. This made Luke the perfect target for the school bully, Bulldog Jones!

Bulldog Jones was ten years old.  He was mean!  Bulldog would sniff out fearful kids and then would go after them as a means to take out his aggressions.  As the story unfolds, the reader discovers why Bulldog was so mean and nasty.

Q: Do you tend to base your characters on real people or are they totally from your imagination?

 Most of my characters are inspired by my children and as they struggle with common issues like fear, anger, pride, lying, and bad attitudes. This often annoys my thirteen year old.  I can just hear her now, “Whatever, Mom!”

Q: Are you consciously aware of the plot before you begin a novel, or do you discover it as you write?

I know the story line before I sit down to write a book.  Usually the plot has been percolating in my heart for months before I actually start writing. However, many of the fun little details that knit the plot together usually just come to me as I write.

Q: Your book is set in a typical Midwestern suburban Christian school.  Can you tell us why you chose this city in particular?

The core setting for this book is in a Christian school and an average suburban neighborhood. No particular city was mentioned because it was not significant to the story line.

Q: Does the setting play a major part in the development of your story?

The only real significance of the setting is that schools, buses and neighborhoods are all fertile grounds for bullying.  For a young reader, these settings would seem relatable and help the kids connect with the characters in the story. 

Q: Open the book to page 69.  What is happening?

This is a really fun question J.

On page 69, Harry “Bulldog” Jones,the notorious school bully is being examined by a physician for injuries he received from a fist fight.  The physician, Dr. Giggleheart (Luke’s mom), tells Harry’s mother that his black eye and bloody nose would heal.  However, Dr. Giggleheart warns Mrs. Jones that Harry’s behavior problems could be fueled by the aggressive music he listens to.

Q: Can you give us one of your best excerpts?

 (Excerpt from page 13)

That day, my bully left me with a humongous problem.  Ever since I was two years old I wanted to be a superhero.  In fact, I used to stand in front of the mirror in my diaper, squeezing my muscles hoping they would someday be strong enough to turn me into a real super dude.  Now that I have strong muscles and a cool cape, I love playing Super Luke and saving my friends and family from big bad bullies.  But after getting stuffed into my locker, I know that it takes a lot more than a good looking cape, a superhero name and big muscles to make me strong and brave!  Learning how to be a real superhero is a major growing pain.


Q: Thank you so much for this interview, Dr. Jackie C. Cogswell. We wish you much success!

Thank you very much for taking the time and interest to learn more about Giggleheart Adventure #2, Super Luke Faces His Bully!

Dr. Jackie C. Cogswell



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The Accidental Author: My Journey to Being Published

The Accidental Author:  My Journey to Being Published

By Hayley Rose

My journey to becoming a published author wasn’t necessarily a path I had originally planned to take.  It was more of an opportunity that fell into my lap and I took a risk to carry it through.

It started with a trip to Chicago to visit family and to meet my cousins for the first time.  Though I loved to travel, I wasn’t a fan of plane rides and on the way back to Los Angeles, I needed an activity to take my mind off the turbulent flight.

I had been a song writer and enjoyed putting my thoughts together in lyrical prose, even though many never ended up accompanied a single tune.  Some people write their thoughts in a journal, but I preferred to create songs with mine.  It was on this flight, however, that I thought of my young cousins and the life they were about to experience; all of the wonderful things they would enjoy and the lessons they would learn.  I couldn’t help but think of my own amazing childhood experiences and decided to draft up a story in rhyme that I could share with them when we met again.

And so Fifo The Bear was born.

I worked in entertainment management with general accounting being part of the game.  The name “Fifo” was derived from “first in, first out”, an accounting term used to track money that’s tied up in inventory.  I liked the uniqueness of the name, if nothing more.

The life of Fifo began to emerge and I took him on a journey through his first day of school, something my cousins would experience in the years to come.  On his way to school, Fifo dreamt of all of the things he could become when he grew up, from a doctor or lawyer to a firefighter or pilot.  And Fifo’s imagination helped ease his fears of starting a new phase in his life.

When I returned home, the story of Fifo actually went into a draw and stayed there for years.  It was one day while having lunch with mom that the restaurant owner, who also owned a small publishing company, told us about a new book one of his authors had just launched.  Learning about his publishing business, I told him that I had once written a story about a bear, but I never did anything with it.  He encouraged me to bring it in so he could read it.

I come from a long line of entrepreneurs and being able to spot an opportunity was an innate trait.  The thought of taking a risk and bringing Fifo to life for others to enjoy seemed well worth the time I would have to sacrifice to become a published author.

In 2002, about 10 years after that fateful plane ride, Fifo, “When I Grow Up”, the story I wrote for my cousins came out of the drawer and sat nestled on store book shelves for other kids to enjoy.  In 2010, I launched Fifo, “50 States”, a tale told in rhyme about Fifo’s travels through every state in our incredible country.

My journey has been remarkable and one that I am blessed to be taking.

About the Author:

Hayley Rose grew up in the beach side town of Pacific Palisades, California, to a family of visual artists. In the early 90’s she traveled the U.S. with her band Crush Violet. In 1994, after a family reunion, she was inspired to write a children’s book.  Her first book, Fifo “When I Grow Up” was published in 2002.  Fifo “50 States” is the second book in the Fifo series. Along with writing children’s books, Hayley has been working in entertainment business management for the past 15 years specializing in concert touring.  She has worked with many “A list” musicians including, Michael Jackson, Rod Stewart and Candlebox, and hopes to one day soon release an album of children’s songs.  She is a currently member of the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators, and resides in Los Angeles, CA.  You can read more at www.fifothebear.com. or join the Facebook fan page at www.facebook.com/fifothebearbooks.

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Interview with Mother/Daughter K.D. Hays & Meg Weidman, authors of TOTO’S TALE

K.D. Hays and Meg Weidman are a mother-daughter team who aspire to be professional roller coaster riders and who can tell you exactly what not to put in your pockets when you ride El Toro at Six Flags. Meg is studying art in a middle school magnet program. For fun, she jumps on a precision jump rope team and reads anything not associated with school work. K.D. Hays, who writes historical fiction under the name Kate Dolan, has been writing professionally since 1992. She holds a law degree from the University of Richmond and consequently hopes that her children will pursue studies in more prestigious fields such as plumbing or waste management. They live in a suburb of Baltimore where the weather is ideally suited for the four major seasons: riding roller coasters in the spring and fall, waterslides in the summer and snow tubes in the winter. Although Meg resents the fact that her mother has dragged her to every historical site within a 200-mile radius, she will consent to dress in colonial garb and participate in living history demonstrations if she is allowed to be a laundry thief.

Their latest collaboration is a wonderful book titled Toto’s Tale.

You can visit their website at www.totostale.com.

Q: Thank you for this interview, Kate and Meg. Can you tell us what your latest book, Toto’s Tale, is all about?

Meg: It’s the Wizard of Oz from Toto’s point of view.

Q:  Can you tell us a little about your main and supporting characters?

Kate: Most people know our main characters, Toto and his pet girl, Dorothy. In addition to the scarecrow, tin man, lion and witch, we introduce some new characters including Happy the wolf and Lomen the lickloe.

Meg: A lickloe is a creature we made up that has the body of a cheetah, tiger stripes, a lion’s mane, the head of a penguin, and human hands.

Q: Do you tend to base your characters on real people or are they totally from your imagination?

Kate: In this case, most of our characters were from someone else’s imagination – L Frank Baum, the creator of The Wonderful Wizard of Oz. But we also added some from our own imagination.

Q: Are you consciously aware of the plot before you begin a novel, or do you discover it as you write?

Meg (shrugs) I don’t know.

Kate: Then I think you’d have to say you’re not very aware of it, are you?  This is my eighth book. I’ve written some where I had every scene outlined in advance and others where I had no idea how the story was going to end, much less how I was going to get there. The second method is more fun when it works. But when it doesn’t….ouch!

Q: Your book is set in Oz.  Can you tell us why you chose this city in particular?

Meg: That’s where the wizard was. Not that Toto needed him to get home, but people will expect a wizard in there somewhere.

Q: Does the setting play a major part in the development of your story?

Kate: Much more so than in any book I’ve written before. If Toto stays in Kansas, we’d just have 150 pages of Aunt Em yelling at him for chasing the chickens.

Q: Open the book to page 69.  What is happening?

Kate: The scarecrow and tin man are pushing open the gate to enter the city of Oz.

Meg: Toto first noticed the gate because it was round like a pie – he’s a little obsessed with food.

Kate: And as the gate opens, Toto can smell pork chops and green beans. But he also smells unknown things, too. So either the desire for the pork chops or the fear of being left behind is enough to convince him to go through into the great unknown.

Meg: It was pork chops, after all. He has this thing for pork chops.

Q: Can you give us one of your best excerpts?

“After being attacked by bees and wolves, you’d think that Dorothy and her friends would take the hint and turn around. The witch was trying to kill us—her own wolves told us so. Plus, she was a witch, with fierce powers, mighty armies, a castle fortress and probably really bad breath. We, on the other hand, had no powers, no army, and a small wooden house that had suffered considerable wind damage and that, anyway, we’d left behind somewhere near a cornfield.

Our breath might have been as bad as hers.

Even so, though, we were still no match for her. We needed to keep as far away from this witch as possible.

Instead, we were walking closer to her castle.”

Q: Thank you so much for this interview, Kate and Meg.  We wish you much success!

Thank you for giving us a chance to tell the world a little bit about what really happened in Oz!

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