Category Archives: Interviews

Stitch Says: Reviews #childrensbooks

Hi Stitch here:

Beach Stitch

Gearing up for Christmas, so I thought I’d jump on here and remind people I am able to read and review your children’s books. Why children’s books you may ask? Well basically because I like them. Also because they are a bit quicker to read, which means I can get through more in a year.
So what do you have to do if you want me to read your book?
First step is to email my mum at: Ashley@ahowland.org
Give her some information about the book. This could include:
• What it’s about
• Who it’s for (age range)
• Where it is available
• The book cover

Then she will email you back with an interview sheet if you wish to have an interview. She will also tell you if she is able to review your book. We don’t like horror or really heavy fantasy – mild or humorous of both is fine. Sometimes we are really busy so the reviews may take a while.
Here is some extra information to help you decide. If for some reason we don’t like your book we won’t publish a bad review. That’s not our way. We certainly don’t expect to like every book, but are not going to use this blog to bag someone’s hard work. So we only publish reviews from 3 woofs to 5 woofs. Here is the bark scale:
3 woofs – it was okay, there were some good points, but we think there could have been more oomph in this story. However as everyone is different we still recommend reading.
4 woofs – we liked this book, it was interesting and well put together. Definitely worth reading and would recommend.
5 woofs – loved the book, couldn’t put it down and we want to read the next one.

So that’s a basic idea. If you would like to have your book here on Stitch Says then email us. In the meantime keep reading, keep writing!

Author Interview: Jenny Kalahar

Today Stitch gets to chat with an author who writes about cats – Jenny Kalahar, lets meet her:

Jenny

When did you decide to become an author and what impact has this had on your life?
As soon as I was able to string words together I was writing some pretty bad poetry. The poems led to short stories and a radio play that was performed and aired when I was in college. I had a few poems published as a young person, but after marrying a rare book dealer I concentrated on selling other authors’ books for a long time. A few years ago I started submitting poetry again and had some published in journals and newspapers and participated in readings. Eventually I formed a poetry-writing group in my local area. During this time I rediscovered some handwritten pages from nearly fifteen years ago, the first pages of a novel that I would turn into Shelve Under C: A Tale of Used Books and Cats. Since completing that novel I’ve written most of two other novels – a sequel to Shelve Under C and the first book in another series set in a school in Iceland for kids with one very peculiar talent. Since my book came out the change in my world is, in some ways, not very noticeable. I still work as a used/rare bookseller, I still enjoy my animals and I still have to do the dishes and the everlasting laundry. In other ways, though, life seems very different. I feel like a part of my soul is hanging out on a tree limb, exposed to the wind, which is a little scary. But I’ve heard from readers from around the world and I’ve met several wonderful authors during the last year. I have readers waiting for the sequel and cheering me on. How could I ask for anything more?

It’s always fun to dig out the old half written manuscripts and see where they lead you.

Tell us about your latest work and what motivated you to write it:
I’m currently wrapping up the sequel to Shelve Under C. My first novel was inspired by my experiences of helming a used and rare bookshop in a university town in Ohio. There we partnered with our local cat shelter to foster cats in our store until they found great, new homes. They were free to roam the aisles and our customers could get to know them in a relaxed atmosphere away from the shelter. The cats no longer had to be confined to cages, yet were still under the protection of the shelter as to medical care and screening of potential adoptive families. We found new homes for more than fifty cats over the years (and yes, we kept a few). I wanted to write a novel to promote this idea of businesses as fostering sites. It helps keep humane societies virtually kill-free, too. Other businesses in that town fostered dogs and even rabbits. My sequel continues to feature fostered cats, and it, again, gives a real glimpse into the everyday life inside a bookshop. The customers, the neighboring business people, the sales and work of bookselling and the fun of book collecting. The sequel delves deeper into the background of the characters, and the shop’s apprentice, a boy named Kris, experiences more of what it is to be a book dealer.

Fantastic way of promoting such wonderful work.

What are your future aspirations as an author?
I’d like to keep working on the two series I have underway and to also put out a book of my humorous/whimsical poetry. I have “serious” poems, as well, but I’d like to have one collection in print of my lighter stuff. Titles like: “The Museum of Tragical Hairstyles”, “The Cartoon Cat Retirement Home”, “Zombies Ate My Cereal”, “One Mile North of Normal”, and “Three Little Withdrawn Pigs” would be featured.

All sound very interesting.

Where do your ideas come from? What experiences or aspects of your life influence your writing?
Ideas for poems come from things that I’ve encountered that struck me as odd, interesting, funny or moving. Sometimes I think I hear something, but it turns out to be, in actuality, something entirely different and far more boring that what’s been misheard. I’ve had some very sad times in my life and I have written poems and stories about them as a way to move through the emotions, but my favorites of my own writings tend to be those that are witty or odd. And I love throwing unexpected things into my poems. Like with “Natural Science Lessons for the Gullible” I have some real biology mixed in with the goofiness.

Science should be goofy!

What do you do to improve yourself and a writer?
I like to edit. I do. Some writers want the first draft to be perfect. I like to write with my eyes closed a lot of the time with poetry. Let it just flow. And then I’ll tweak and rewrite until it feels like I’ve gotten to the real bone of what I wanted to convey. With my novels I will sometimes rewrite my paragraphs a dozen times or more or even rearrange them within a chapter. As to the process of writing, I’d say my technique is to write as if the story were taking place around me as I sit on a chair within each scene. I take time to look at the characters. I let them react and fight, laugh and tease. I work to remember what each voice should sound like and where each character pauses or overreacts. Each of them should have a history and their own set of lungs to breathe with; their own heart. Needless to say, I get overly-attached to them and I hate to set them free into the world before they’re really ready. For example, the sequel I’m finishing now is the second. I threw out my first sequel because I just didn’t love it enough. Will this new sequel actually be published? I think it will. I do love it this time.

Liking to edit… wow, wish I had that skill!

Where can people contact you?
I’m on Twitter a little bit, I have an author page on Facebook, and my personal website is www.jennykalahar.com

Did you publish with a traditional publishing house or did you go the indie route?
I held on to my novel for a couple of years, just letting it sit on my computer all by itself. My husband finally talked me into putting it out as an ebook and then, after getting some very nice reviews, I published it as a softcover.

Always good to have someone support you dreams.

What works best for you when writing? Meaning do you outline or write freely when you feel inspired to do so?
I just sit and write. I take notes when I’m not at the computer and when I am I do work on those jotted-down ideas. When I’m washing dishes or cooking sometimes things will occur to me – details or questions that I didn’t answer for the reader. I write myself directions or those questions to make it simpler for myself when I do sit down to write. I have never, ever outlined a story or poem or novel. Is it the right thing to do? Probably. But I just like to sit and let the story flow of its own accord, finding out what’s going to happen as it happens. I’ve been surprised a lot, but that’s a good deal of the fun!

Writing is always fun. Thanks for joining us here at Stitch Says. We will post a review tomorrow, in the meantime keep reading, keep writing!

Author Interview: The Giles Family #amreading

An interview with a writing family, Dean, Brenda and Nathan Giles are the authors of The Snow Birthday! Let’s meet the family:
family

When did you decide to become an author and what impact has this had on your life?
I believe that I have had the spark of wanting to write a book since I became a book addict in my high school years. I simply put it to one side while I did all of the things that life required.
About a year ago, we found that we were sending a couple of children out on missions, and I had the idea that we could write a book as a way to show support for them. As a family we produced The Snow Birthday http://www.amazon.com/The-Snow-Birthday-Childrens-Friendship-ebook/dp/B00BWAP6SS/.
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It was a wonderful experience, and it was the one experience that let me know that we could do this book authoring stuff, and that I could do some of my own.

Writing as a family sounds like lots of fun!

Tell us about your latest work and what motivated you to write it:
We came out with another children’s ebook done by a family collaboration called “Creeking”. Also, I’m a bit of a tech-head, and I wrote a how-to for using Google’s new Keyword Planner. Both were successes, and we are working on a few others right now.
My son Nathan has a science fiction/fantasy novel that has 13 chapters completed. It has really been an enjoyable family experience.

What are your future aspirations as an author?
I have a number of projects in the works. I am hoping to get together some of the best information that we have come across in our journey as authors, and create a course that we can teach locally. We have a number of friends who have seen our family books and have expressed interest in becoming authors themselves.

It’s great how many people are fascinated by becoming an author. It takes a lot of courage to actually do it!

Where do your ideas come from? What experiences or aspects of your life influence your writing?
My life revolves around my family. My inspiration comes from generations of family interaction, challenges, and wholesome recreation.

Family always provides the best material and inspiration!

What do you do to improve yourself as a writer?
I read every day. I read informational books that help me create and hone personal skills, but I also read fiction and entertainment every day. This helps me with creativity and knowing what topics are new and active.

What are the names of your books?
The Snow Birthday, Creeking: Summer Time Fun, Keyword Planner

What inspires you to write?
I love to write. I love stories, and I love helping people. It is a good convergence of likes.

Tell us a little bit about your next WIP
We have a few books in the works. We are working on another children’s book. We hope to be putting children’s books out every couple of months.

I’m working on a book about writing Indie books and I’m actually putting together a course that I plan on teaching locally. I have a number of friends and associates that have seen the books we have published and want to learn how.
My son has a science fiction/fantasy novel mostly done, and I have some short stories that I am looking for an Anthology to contribute to.

Sound like some fantastic plans.

Where can people contact you?
AustinsGift.com, dean@austinsgift.com, twitter: @deangiles3

Did you publish with a traditional publishing house or did you go the indie route?
Completely Indie!

and proud as you should be!

Do you read the reviews of your work and how do they affect your writing?
Yes, every one. I believe that everyone has different expectations. I have a lot of great reviews for my children’s books. The technical books have a wide range of reviews because people are technically at different levels and the information presented is too advanced for some and too basic for others. I have updated my book based on the reviews, but have also realized that there should be a second or third book for the same subjects—each targeting a different user base.

Excellent way to use the feedback.

What works best for you when writing? Meaning do you outline or write freely when you feel inspired to do so?
Both. I try really hard to create a structure, because I can write 2K to 5K in a day when I know where I’m going and it is well mapped out. While I’m writing, however, I sometimes see that I can’t follow the map exactly. Then I realize that things aren’t going exactly the way that I planned. That usually takes a lot more time and rewriting. But frankly, it takes both.

For other authors who may be struggling what advice can you give on handling rejection?
When I get poor reviews, I look for ways to improve, but I tell myself that the story wasn’t for that person. I look at John Locke, his first book had a LOT of 1 star reviews—but his first book was the sieve. Those that liked it, loved his next books and pushed him to 1 million books sold in 5 months.

Some excellent advice and a great positive attitude!

Thank you for dropping by on Stitch Says! Best of luck for your future aspirations. Plenty more interviews and reviews to come. Plus you never know who Stitch will meet next, could it be one of your characters??? To be involved with Stitch Says email me at Ashley@ahowland.org in the meantime keep reading, keep writing!

Stitch meets a Sock #childrensbooks

Today Stitch Says has an interview with a difference! It’s a character interview and yes it is Labrador meets sock. Lets see how it turned out:

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Stitch ran through the house, his prize in his mouth. A brand new sock that had just appeared out of nowhere. Not a tooth mark in sight!
“Put me down,” yelled the sock
Stitch stopped, did the sock just speak? He dropped his prize and pounced on it.
“Ouch,” said the sock.
“Wow a talking sock?” said Stitch.
“Wow a talking Labrador,” replied the sock.

“Okay talking so tell me why shouldn’t I eat you?” asked Stitch
Yuck! We are made of fabric. Your tummy would get sick. And because I’m a talking sock! Heck, I have an adopted brother named Stitch! I love your name!
(He has yet to make an appearance, but we’re planning it.) Plus, your human will get mad if you eat me.

Stitch is a very cool name – although I was named after a blue monster not a sock. Besides you are clearly not my human’s sock, so I could eat you. Still I am rather full from that bone and you don’t taste very good!

As you don’t belong here you better tell me where you come from?
We come from many different places. We are made by humans in many shapes and colors. We eventually end up in the sock drawer. It’s where the humans put us to keep us away from the dog who loves to slobber all over us. Yuck.
The dog thinks we’re a toy.

Hey I’m a Labrador if I find it then it’s a toy!

Now answer me this is there really a place where lost socks hide? How do I find it?
Well, my dad likes to hang out in the drawer because it’s so warm in there. Sometimes he’ll cling up in the top so the humans don’t see him and he gets to take another ride in the dryer. The thing is, humans seem to think we get lost in the dryer. We don’t get lost. We time travel, but you can only do that during the spin cycle. When the washing machine is going around really, really fast, you can see this little tiny hole open up. It’s too big for the other clothes to fit through. If you’ve ever taken stuff out of the washing machine and found shirt sleeves all tangled up with pants and stuff, it’s because they were all trying to time travel
too.

Really time travelling clothes… Just as well I don’t have thumbs and never have to do the washing. I just help bring it in off the line!

So Mr time traveling sock tell me who is the most amazing person you have ever been worn by?
My brother, Stretch, met Abraham Lincoln. That was really exciting. He learned how wonderful a president Abraham Lincoln was, how much he really cared about all people, no matter who they were or where they came from. He said it was the most incredible journey. He also found out they didn’t have washing machines back in 1863. They washed us in a different way.

Mmmm I’ve heard about the old way of washing, bit like a bath. I could have helped a lot with the washing back then!

Where do you think you will end up next?
My brother, Sudsy, also got to know Benjamin Franklin. Oh, what a story he told us! It’s going to be in a another book! But, we do more than time travel. We learn to dance, we climb mountains, we hang out on a clothes line. We have so many exciting adventures.

Well I look forward to reading that. I guess I should put you back before someone here thinks you are a lost sock!

Stitch carefully dropped the sock back into the washing machine. It had been fun chatting with a sock. Stitch would be more careful next time he stole something.

That was a bit of fun. To find out more about Sock Kids:

The SockKids Meet Lincoln

About the Book

Title: The SockKids™ Meet Lincoln

Authors: Michael John Sullivan and Susan Petrone

Illustrator: SugarSnail

Publication Date: August 14, 2013

Publisher: Independent

Pages: 40 (print)

Recommended Age: 3 to 8

Summary (Amazon):

Where do our missing socks go? Readers find out in our children’s series, The SOCKKIDS. We follow the Socker family through many adventures; from encountering the slobbery mouth of the family dog to meeting Santa as he comes down the chimney on Christmas Eve to helping a fireman save a baby to the most shy Socker going to the school dance for the first time. Thanks to the time-travel opportunities afforded by the spin cycle of the washer, they learn about some of the most important humans in the world. Children two and up and their parents will be drawn to the diversity of the family and the universal and timeless lessons they teach: don’t be afraid of new experiences; treat others as you would like to be treated, and of course, beware of the spin cycle!

 

Stitch Says will post a review next week. In the mean time keep those socks away from your dogs. Oh and keep reading, keep writing!