Willie the Wheelchair by Remon M. Jourdan

Posted on Updated on

avatarAuthor Remon M. Jourdan

Remon M. Jourdan is the author of Willie the Wheelchair. He is an underground spoken-word poet from Massachusetts trying to return to his love of writing after a car accident left him paralyzed. He designs and maintains a personal website,, which explores creative ways of inspiring and motivating others through music, writing and poetry. When he’s not performing, volunteering or creating, he is absorbing the inspiration from his daughter, Nerissa Rae to keep moving forward.


Willie the WheelchairWILLIE_FRONT_2012_cs5 (2)
Author: Remon M. Jourdan
Page Count: 24
Genre: Picture Book
Price: $8.98
Available at: and


The story of Willie the Wheelchair is simply about finding your importance in the world.  At first Willie feels that his differences are holding him back.

“You see, Willie was born with wheels on the ends of his feet
And he wished he had legs like other chairs he would meet”

We are all different, with different gifts to share as long as we realize that differences should be celebrated.


OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAHow are you doing today Remon?  I’m happy to welcome you to Inside The Books.Please tell us a little bit about yourself and what inspired you to become a children’s book author?
Thanks for having me. Born and raised in Cambridge Massachusetts my journey began with music after entering the Boston Archdiocesan Choir School. I developed a love for songwriting and poetry during this time which has stayed with me ever since. In 2002 I was in the car accident that left me paralyzed. And it was in trying to communicate all my new challenges to my daughter who was very young at the time that the children’s book idea came about.

Some people know at an early age that they were born to be an author. When did you know that you were one of those people?
I grew up with a love for poetry and music, but really simply “words” and how they can be used and manipulated to communicate emotion. But it was my 5th grade English teacher, Ms. Yeoman, who introduced me to the world of becoming an author, as well as to one of my favorite poets, Edgar Allen Poe. After feeling what I felt from reading his works, I knew I wanted to be able to have a similar effect on others through my works.

How does poetry and music play a role in the creation of your children books?
Basically I use it as a foundation for communicating in my books. As an adult I can still remember all the nursery rhymes and songs that are sung to children. And that’s what I strive to reinvent in my stories: something fun to read aloud, melodic, flowing, and easy to remember.

One of my favorite things about writing is when I discover a new character. How did you discover your character Willie?
One of the favorite things my daughter loved to do when she was young was to sit in my wheelchair. Her fascination made me realize that the “adult” notions about what a wheelchair is and what it entails can take away from how amazing and empowering they truly are, and from there came Willie.

What is the one of your favorite things about Willie?
For me it’s that Willie realized for himself that he had something to offer with his differences. And that some of his challenges were self-inflicted, so when he finally became “aware” some of those barriers immediately disappeared.


WILLIE_CreateSpace-3-5-12_Page_04 (2)
If I was to interview your character Willie right now, what would he like to share with everyone?

He would simply remind all of us not to forget how special we are with all our differences and uniqueness.

I love the soft pastel colors of your cover illustration. How involved were you with the illustrations of your book? 
Me and my wonderful illustrator, Syanne Djaenal, worked hand-in-hand to create something that would be as fun to see as to read.

Is your book Willie the Wheelchair the first book in a series? If so, can you tell us about the next book in the series?
Hopefully so, my plan was to have Willie go to school next and possibly find a job in the future. I’m currently working on the funding for that and my other projects.

Can you share with us your goals for any future books?
Along with Willie sequels, I’m hoping to publish as children’s book describing my daughter’s experience with my spinal cord injury seen through her young imaginative eyes, Risa and Superdad.

Do you have any events coming up that you would like to share with us? 
I will be performing a short poem as well as having copies of Willie the Wheelchair available for sale at the 6th Annual Ms. Wheelchair Massachusetts on March 29, 2014 at the Mass Hospital School in Canton Massachusetts.

Which social sites do you like to use to connect with people?
You can always reach out to me from my website

Thank you for your time. It was a pleasure speaking with you.


Our Daddy By Rene Guity

Posted on Updated on

RenePhoto Author Rene Guity

I was born in Boston, MA before moving to the Hampton Roads area of Virginia where I attended high school.  I earned my B.S. from Christopher Newport University and my M.S. Ed  from Old Dominion University.  Spent a good portion of my younger years trying to break into the record industry, but after starting a family I realized that I had to reevaluate my life choices.

Currently, I am a high school Guidance Counselor and mentor to a lot of young people.  I am also a husband and father of two beautiful girls which my series of books (The Adventures of Tink & Fishes) will be inspired by.  The books will have a Hip Hop style of rhyme and very unique illustrations to match which should make them easy and fun to read for all ages.

When I am not writing or trying to lead young people down the right path I enjoy listening to good music, reading, playing golf with my girls, chess, lifting weights, and yoga.

If you’re interested in knowing a bit more feel free to email or “tweet” me @renguity.

OurDaddyOur Daddy
Author: Rene Guity
Page Count: 22
Genre: Picture Book
Price: $9.99
Available at: or Amazon

Essentially the book is basically a compilation of things that I tell my girls on a regular basis. I have two daughters who are now 12 and 8.  I found myself saying certain things over and over like any other parent out there and even started to take those messages to my kids at the school where I worked.  So I thought to myself “Why not just write them down?”

Hello Rene! How are you doing today? Welcome to Inside The Books. Please tell us a little bit about yourself and what inspired you to become a children’s book author?

Hello there!  I’m doing well today?  How are you?  Thank you for reaching out and offering me an opportunity to discuss my book. I really appreciate the interest and support.

Well, my parents are from Honduras, CA and my sister and I are products of two people overcoming many odds to give us a better opportunity.  I was born and raised in Boston, MA and I am a TRUE BOSTONIAN!  I love my city!  Growing up I was very blessed to have great parents, wonderful friends and a great sense of community.  We took care of each other and years later our community has gone from friends to family.

Growing up I was super involved in the Hip Hop culture. I started with Breakdancing and by the 9th grade I devoted my energy to rhyming and becoming an Emcee.  Throughout high school and college I spent a lot of time just trying to get signed and I was close until some life altering events occurred and I had to redirect my steps, but the love for the culture never dies.  It becomes part of you and ultimately who you are.  I consider myself a Hip Hop Guidance Counselor! 🙂

Honestly, with a love for rhyming writing a book wasn’t that far of a reach.  Working full time in a field where your students become your kids (if you care) and with my own performing and traveling wasn’t much of an option so writing a book served a couple of purposes for me.  1.  It gave me an opportunity to still rhyme and write which is what I love to do. 2.  It was a message of fatherhood that I noticed was so lacking in our society.  3.  It was something that was dedicated and inspired by my girls so it would be something they would hopefully appreciate forever.  4.  Both of my girls play golf which culturally is something we do not play but they showed an interest and a gift very early so we were hoping that the book could help fund their golfing experience.


You might not know that my daughter was one of my inspirations to start my publishing company, Worlds To Discover. Was it always your dream to become a published author or was it something that slowly evolved as your girls were growing up?

No my dream was never to become an author.  My original dream was to be on stage and be Boston’s KRS-ONE. LOL  It’s funny how life changes and you adapt to whatever is going on.  I knew when my first daughter was born that traveling and being a part time dad was not going to work for me so I really backed up from that.  I mentioned some major events playing a part in my decision.  My partner in rhyme Remon Jourdan (who also wrote a children’s book) was in a car accident that left him unable to walk.  The year after his accident my oldest was diagnosed with Type 1 Diabetes.  So the book was definitely an evolution of all of those events and in a way therapeutic for me.  Pick Up The Pace was me getting back into the swing of things after being down for a long time.

I’ve never published a picture book, but I can imagine writing a picture book has it challenges. What aspect did you find to be a challenge?

Great question! The writing was easy and I have a few books waiting in the wing but the process is a little crazy. First, I noticed that most books that show love or endearment to their children were by women and not many that I could find were from fathers of color. Soooo I’m thinking “something new” but that was not the case. In order for any major publisher to even look at your work you need a literary agent to present it. So I wrote to hundreds of agents and none were interested in picking up the book and moving forward with it. I think if I had written this book before ebooks became the norm that I would have had a better response. So that was very frustrating. I would go into stores and look at books that I KNOW mine could have stood by and you start to wonder if there is a reason books by men of color are not in Barnes and Noble. After 100 “no’s” you have to decide what to do so I decided to self publish. Even in that it’s expensive so I did what I could to promote the book and sold over 1000 copies the summer I released it. I was hoping that would show companies it had merit but the no’s didn’t change to yesses.

On your website Pick up the Pace, you mention that you work as a high school guidance counselor and mentor a lot of young people. Does that experience play a role in your stories?

Absolutely! I really didn’t set out to change the world or save anyone but my love for my own kids and coming from familiar territory as my students I was their go to person. Those kids literally became my kids. My office was always crowded and I spent a lot of weekends with my students taking them to the movies, bowling, or just over to watch sports. After seeing how many of my kids didn’t have fathers or envied mine I felt it necessary to send the message of love to everyone and the book was a way to do that.

As a published children’s book author myself I have always found it very interesting to have readers of my books come up to share with me their thoughts about my characters. What is the most memorable experience you have had with readers of your book?

I think the consistent theme that I am very proud of is when people say to me “This should be in Barnes and Noble and not just in the children’s section!” That tells me that it was a positive endeavor even if I didn’t make a million dollars or sat on Oprah’s sofa. I know the people that read it were blessed because God used me as a messenger. You can’t feel bad about that.

I love the vibrant colors of your cover illustration. How involved were you with the illustrations of your book?

VERY! My best friend and another good friend of mine did the illustrations. Before families and real life we would all sit around watching them draw pictures of the crew. They would draw me with a microphone and the rest of the gang doing different things and we all used to tell them they needed to really do something with their talent but life happens I suppose and they never did. So when I told them I was going to start a series of books and no one knew my family like they did and would they be interested. They jumped at the chance to finally put their gifts to work and those illustrations really make the book shine in my opinion. Not because they are so bright and vibrant but because those guys captured the life of my family into fun pictures.  There were some bumps in the road working with your friends and a project that you feel passionate about. Sometimes our clocks weren’t in sync and that was frustrating but I wouldn’t want anyone else illustrating my books so you just have to love your folks I guess. 🙂

Can you give us a hint about what your next book will be about?

I’ll give you more than a hint.  I will give you the title of the next book.  It will be called “Today” which is already written and it speaks about the blessings we have EVERYDAY if we just take the time to notice.

I know I have a lot of goals for my publishing company. Some I talk about and others I keep close. What are your goals for your publishing career that you would like to share?

Writing is my peace so I have a few projects that I would like to attack in the near future.  With my girls establishing themselves as pretty good little golfers my goals are always to put them in a position to follow their path and if the books get them there then I’ll be a happy man.  They want to play on LPGA one day so their goals are now my goals and purpose for anything that I do going forward.  I am in the process of writing a book about our road to the LPGA and I really want to sit down and put all of my notes in order because that book will not only address fatherhood but the social issues involved in the game of golf.

Do you have any events coming up that you would like to share?

Aside from my girl’s tournaments I don’t have anything lined up.  Every now and then I am asked to speak at an event for fathers or young men so I’m always open to those when they are presented.

Which social sites are you on?

Not many.  I still have  a Twitter account which I originally set up to promote the book and although I connected with a lot of good people I stopped using it.  I do monitor my girls Twitter @guitygirlsgolf and Facebook pages.  Their website is  So needless to say my girls are my priority.  Thanks again for the opportunity to share!  Blessings!


Interview with the author of the book series Yay! I know my… Andrea L’Artiste

Posted on Updated on

ALartisteAs a huge fan of Dr. Seuss and her natural gift of art, at age 12, Andrea L’Artiste developed the desire to write and illustrate children’s book. It wouldn’t be until much later in life that she puts her creativity into books. She recently founded and started the publishing company MyTinyPages.Booksforkids, where she is also an author and illustrator.

Andrea wrote and illustrated her first book and released it in 2011. Yay! I know my ABC’s, 123’s, and colors too! This book would be the first in the educational series for small children. In 2012 she went on to create and release her second book, entitled Yay! I know my MATH! Currently Andrea is preparing to release her third book, Yay! I know my STATES and CAPITALS of U.S.A, September 16, 2013.





MathPTN MathGTN ABCtn  StatesTN


First, I want to congratulate you on your company and your books. I love the fun nature of your Facebook fan page and think that you have a really good personality to create concept books that will teach children their basics.

Can you tell us about your publishing company, My Tiny Pages?
MyTinyPages.Booksforkids is a Publishing Company, where I am also an Author and Illustrator. I started it in 2011, while writing my first book. Interestingly, there is now a little more to MyTinyPages.Booksforkids. I have created characters from my Brand/Logo. They are 5 cute little books, which makes up the (p-a-g-e-s) And their names are Patrick, Adam, Gina, Erica, and Sam. And we are currently paving a road for these little guys. 🙂

When did you know that you were going to start a publishing company?
The way “MyTinyPages” came about was really on a whim. I always knew that I wanted to write and Illustrate for Children, but I had no idea that I would start my own Brand/Publishing Company until during the creation of my first book. After reading and learning how the “Publishing” process works, I opted out, and decided to do it myself. I have a degree in Business, so I knew that It was something I could make happen myself. I never presented my book to a publishing Company.

I think Yah! I know my… is a fun title for a concept book series. How did you come up with it?
How I came up with the concept of Yay!?
lol Well, it is a term used frequently by children, and now adults. lol! I wanted to capture the essence of “Child-like & Fun, inside of this series. And the “I know my”? We hear kids saying that  all the time “I know my abc’s, I know how to ride a bike, I know how to write my name. Kids always wants to “know how” to do something. So that is how I came up with that part. 🙂

Since all of your books are part of a series, do you have one character that runs throughout all of your books?
There are no particular characters in the first series. Just really bright and colorful objects and things that kids like. But, The Adventures of MyTinyPages book series (P)atrick, (A)dam, (G)ina, (E)rica, and (S)am will begin in 2014.

I have always loved concept books. I brought a lot of them when my kids where learning their basics. I think for me it was because of the bright colors and characters as well as the joy of seeing them point out things on the pages. I loved to see them learn. An although I don’t see myself creating a concept book I have a real appreciation for them. What is the inspiration behind your books?
Well, before I started my first book. I thought to myself. I have to do something different. I can’t do what everyone else is doing. I want to be remembered. I want my books to leave an impression. A good one. lol. I wanted to bring something different to the Children’s book world…A new look. This is where color and 3D appearance comes in. Colors are a big deal for MyTinyPages. Being an artist, I’ve always loved bright colors. And it is what holds the attention of small children.

I’ve just recently started to get into digital illustrations. (Thanks to Wacom and their great tablets.)  I find that I love creating images. Especially since I see so many in my head. My illustrations sometimes help me in developing a story while at other times they are created to tell a story already written. How do the illustrations for you book develop? Do you see them in your head or do you create them based off the words written for your book?
My ideas come to me throughout the day. (driving, eating, shower, daydreaming lol wherever) They come as clear images, and I just create them.

I know for me writing came come quick and easy or long and slow. Tell us about your writing process?
My writing process, it was pretty simple for the first book. It is basically an Alphabets, Colors, and Numbers book. Describing the objects. The Math book, however, required  more of a writing process, as it is a rhyming book. I’ve always liked writing poetry therefor it wasnt so hard coming up with things that rhyme. 🙂

I noticed that your book Yah! I know my Math! is in both a pink and green cover. Are they the same book or do they offer different information?
Yay! I know my MATH! comes in Pink and Green,because I wanted to do something a little extra for the parents. People like to feel as If they have an option. Don’t you agree? lol  Pink for the girls, Green for the boys. But hey let me tell you, the printing cost is a lot more! So no more color options in future books. lol And yes, it is the same book.

I see that you have a lot of images of kids with your books on you fan page. That has to be a great feeling. Can you tell us about your most rewarding experience?
Oh seeing kids read my books is one of the greatest feelings I’ve ever experienced. Because I know that I am helping some little one learn to read.

Chuck E. Cheese has to be one of the most popular destination for all kids. Can you tell us about your partnership with them?
Chuck E. Cheese is a place all kids love to go. I was looking for a place to read my book to kids, and I came up with the idea of Chuck E. Cheese. Instant access to parents. Where I can personally speak with them. But some kids can still be a little distracted by everything else going on at the Cheese’s. 🙂 We will see how this works out.

What book do you plan on publishing after Yay! I know my STATES?
Adventures of MyTinyPages beginning in 2014.

Do you have anything that you would like to share with your readers?
Do I have anything I would like to share with my readers? Yes, We don’t count the number of books we sell, Instead we count the number of children we’ve reached. MyTinyPages and I, love and appreciate you from the bottom of our hearts. 🙂
Thank you Andrea L’Artiste. We wish you much success!

Inside the Book Interview with Naomi Robinson, Artist of Greeting Card Series: Sister to Sister

Posted on

Article first published as Interview: Naomi Robinson, Mixed Media Artist of Sister to Sister Greeting Cards on Blogcritics.

Hello Everyone,

How are you doing?

Welcome to Inside The Books. This is JMcManus with another post for you. Today’s post will introduce you to mixed media artist Naomi Robinson.

Born in Notting Hill, West London, United Kingdom, Naomi Robinson always loved drawing. Her mother said she started drawing as soon as she could pick up a crayon. Around the age of six she remembers getting a box of 36 oil crayons and an oversized sketchbook and nearly finishing the entire sketchbook in one day. She loved to draw clowns and was fascinated with the colors, clothing, and face painting.

Now she’s a mixed media artist who mainly illustrates greeting cards, book covers, and merchandise such as t-shirts as she builds up her clientele in the children’s sector. She has two main styles that she works in. The first style includes mixing dip pen, ink, tea-stained/textured papers, watercolor, and scanned images that are finished in Photoshop, and the second style includes computer-based scanned sketches which are re-drawn in Illustrator and finished in Photoshop.

First let me thank you for taking time to do this interview. You have a very vibrant and fun illustration style that really lends itself to greeting cards. Where did that style come from?

My style is a work in progress and developing with each project. I think my style comes from my love for drawing. All my ideas come from constantly sketching. I like to focus on a strong line, pattern, complementary colors and playful compositions.

What was the first greeting card series you worked on?

I have worked on a few greetings card series some of which I self-publish. The most popular was my cupcake range, a series of 11 card designs. It’s still growing and a US card publisher has now licensed them.

Can you describe for us your start-to-finish process when working on a greeting card series?

Once commissioned by a publisher, you will receive your text or concepts. I’ll do some image research for theme or topic, then brainstorm and sketch out ideas. I may at this point send the publisher some roughs before I start final artwork. I create artwork and finally send the final artwork to the publisher or directly to their printer.

One of my favorite cards is part of the Sista to Sista collection: “Keep your head up, Never let them see it hanging low…” A beautiful card with a beautiful woman smiling. Can you tell us about the Sista to Sista project and the process you went through for creating each card?

Sister to Sister was such a special collaboration between Hudson & Brown and myself. The project was perfect for my style and the work I love to create. A brand focused on empowering women – written by women, designed by women and for women. I received the text and it instantly spoke to me visually. Hudson & Brown gave me free range to create whatever I liked because they loved what they had seen from my portfolio and truly believed in me as an artist and card maker.

I wanted the cards to be beautiful, bold, colorful and contemporary. I also aimed to keep them coherent as a series by keeping my palette limited with a neutral undertone.

Do you ever get to write the verbiage for the greeting cards or is it always given to you?

With Sister to Sister I was given most of my text, and I was lucky enough to write some of their cancer support cards such as the card entitled My Hand.

Is there any project you would like to illustrate in the future?

This year I’m eager to work on more children’s book commissions so that is my focus. I love pattern and surface design so will be doing some projects towards that also. And I’m sure I’ll create some more illustrations for Sister to Sister/Woman to Woman Greetings.

What has been your favorite project to work on?

My favorite projects are the ones that help me develop my thinking as a creative and push me to be a better illustrator. I like a challenge and when reviewing my work it is important to me to see growth and improvement.

You’ve been working as an illustrator for years; has the new technology affected how you work on new projects?

I’ve been lucky because I was growing up in the age of the computer. I first created art on a computer when I was 10 years old and as I have developed as an artist in turn computers and packages have improved, making everything easier. I think my day job as a graphics designer really helps because it always ensures I am up to speed with the latest creative applications. Although working “traditional” is great because you can’t beat the feeling and ease of drawing in a sketchpad or painting on canvas; everything ends up digital so it is very important to be versatile.

Are you currently working on any projects that we can look forward to?

I’m working on a few, a secret little book for little girls, an alphabet book project and a new online card and t-shirt shop.

Is there anything else you would like to share with us?

I’d just like to take this opportunity to thank you for asking me to do this interview.

Thank your for sharing some insight on your talent. Where can people find out more information about you and your work?

My website is a good starting point as it has links to everything.

If you want to see how I work or ideas come, where I’m exhibiting or my latest achievements, my blog is very good.

I have a little Etsy shop where you can buy a few limited edition cards and products.

And finally you can all pop by and say hi via Facebook.


Subscribe Inside The Books Blog on the top right

Inside The Book of Ellen's Broom w/ Kelly Starling Lyons by JMcManus

Posted on

Hello Everyone,

I hope you’re all doing well in this New Year!

Welcome to Inside The Books. This is JMcManus with another post for you. Today’s post is part of Kelly Starling Lyons blog tour for the release of her new book Ellen’s Broom, a wonderful book about a young girl’s experience of freedom.

Ellen always knew that the broom resting above the hearth was special. Before it was legal for her mother and father to officially be married, the broom was what made them a family. But now all former slaves who had already been married in their hearts could register as lawful husband and wife.

As part of the blog tour Kelly Starling Lyons will be giving away a grand prize to anyone who leaves a comment on any of the tour stops. So please read the interview and review below and leave a comment for your chance to win a decorated wedding broom courtesy of Stuart’s Creations ( and a poster of the Ellen’s Broom cover. The winner will be drawn on January 16.


1. As a writer myself, I’m always interested in the creation of characters. Can you tell us about Ellen and how she became the character of your book?

While researching family history, I saw a Virginia cohabitation register that listed formerly enslaved couples, the dates of their marriages and the names and ages of their children. Though their marriages – sometimes celebrated by jumping a broom – weren’t legal during slavery, they were finally in 1866 protected by law. Freedmen’s Bureau officers registered the couples and even issued some marriage certificates. Ellen was the result of my imagining what it would be like for a girl whose parents finally have their marriage made legal.

It took an editor’s encouragement to see my research had potential for a story. Once I started working on it, I envisioned Ellen and her family and tried to imagine how they would feel to go from slavery to freedom. I could see her mama wanting to make sure the story of what they survived was not forgotten. The broom was a symbol that Ellen came to see as a special part of their history. It’s something she vowed to pass on.

2. During a time of change, from slavery to freedom, one constant in Ellen’s life was the broom her parents jumped during slavery. Can you tell us why it is so important for children of today to understand the history of brooms in marriage during that time period?

Today, it’s not unusual to attend an African-American wedding where the couple jumps the broom. But many children have no idea why they’re doing it. Ellen’s Broom helps give them a sense of the history. It shares what the broom ritual meant to enslaved families who could be torn apart at any time. Through the story, they see that even as Ellen’s family celebrated new freedoms – like finally having marriages of former slaves legalized — it was important to remember that past. I hope it helps children understand why jumping the broom is done by some couples in memory of that history now.

3. I was delighted to receive a small broom with my copy of Ellen’s Broom. Is that something that will ship out with every copy?

There’s a fun craft kids can do to make their own miniature broom out of a pencil. Directions are in the Ellen’s Broom craft and discussion guide created by author/educator Debbie Gonzales. Here’s the link: EllensBroomDiscussionActivityGuide.pdf.

4. Can you share with us an unknown fact about the book? Like something that appeared in the first draft that was edited out by the final draft.

One fact few people know is that I chose the name Ellen for the main character in honor of my maternal grandfather’s mother, Ellen Hairston Starling.  It was through researching her side of the family that I stumbled across the cohabitation register that inspired this story. I also learned that Ellen is a family name. Her grandmother, who likely was once enslaved, was named Ellen too.

Something that was edited out of the story were the names of the songs Ellen, her family and the rest of the congregation sang in the church. I mentioned Follow the Drinking Gourd, Wade in the Water and Go Down, Moses. Those songs gave enslaved people hope and in some cases instructions for escape. Once free, the songs were a testament to what they survived and a reminder to cherish their freedom. You can still hear those spirituals in some churches today.

5. As an author, what inspires you to write?

I’m inspired to write children’s books by the memory of being a child who rarely saw herself and her history reflected in stories for young people. I write to help create a different reality for kids today. I write to give back.

I still remember the story that inspired me to write for kids, Something Beautiful by Sharon Dennis Wyeth. It was the first time I saw an African-American girl featured on the cover of a picture book. Right then, I decided to add my voice.

6. Is there anything else you would like to share with us?

I’m so grateful for the chance to share this story. I wrote Ellen’s Broom as a celebration of family, love and freedom. I was amazed by how illustrator Daniel Minter reflected those themes in his art. People can learn more about Ellen’s Broom and find printables for kids at my site, If you want a peek inside the book, you can watch the trailer for Ellen’s Broomhere. Thanks again for all of your support.


Thank you Kelly for a wonderful interview and some insight in the making of Ellen’s Broom.

Ellen’s Broom is a delightful book about how a broom that was once used during the time of slavery for marriage becomes a tradition. Readers will journey with Ellen as she carries the broom her parents once jumped over during slavery to bind the family, to a courthouse where her parents will be officially married.

Kelly has a wonderful and delightful way of creating characters that connects with young readers. And that connection takes you on a journey through a moment in time. It’s like the characters hold your hand as they tell you about history…what a way to learn.

And let me just say, from someone who is big on illustrations, Daniel Minter did a wonderful job with his block print illustrations. When my eight-year-old daughter saw this book lying on my table she asked if she could have a poster.

Ellen’s Broom is a great book about family traditions and I can’t wait to read more books from Kelly Starling Lyons.

MyMcBooks Interview with Dr. Sylvia Hawkins

Posted on

Dr. Sylvia Hawkins Little penned Tri-Alphabets for Greer—English, Español, Françai as a present for her granddaughter’s third birthday. She was inspired by her granddaughter’s love of books, motivated by her son’s foreign language expertise, and challenged to find relevant learning materials for gifts. Family, friends, and colleagues subsequently asked her to share her gift; Dr. Little’s Tri-Alphabets and More English · Español · Français is her gift to you

Along with writing, editing, and co-authoring numerous consultative reports, educational manuals, guides, and handbooks, Dr. Little’s poetry was featured in the McDill Officer’s Wives Magazine. Her first children’s book, Dr. Little’s Tri-Alphabets and More English · Español · Français, won an She is a member of the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators, the Austin/Central Texas Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators Chapter, and the Writer’s League of Texas.

Dr. Little holds a Doctorate of Philosophy and Masters of Education from The University of Texas at Austin and a Bachelor of Science from Southern Illinois University at Carbondale. Currently an independent education consultant, Dr. Little has been teacher, principal and school district assistant superintendent during her career; her work has concentrated in multi-ethnic school districts. She understands that today’s young people must speak multiple languages to succeed in today’s diverse, high-tech, information-oriented global society.

Interview with Sylvia Hawkins Little, PH.D. Author of Dr. Little’s Tri-Alphabets and more English· Español · Français. A Tri-Lingual Book.
I want to thank you for being my guest here on Mymcbooks Blog

What is the last book you read?
This question has two answers. I habitually read more than one book at the same time and usually finish them both about the same time. I just finished reading Keli Goff’s “The GQ Candidate” and Suzanne Collins’ The Hunger Games.

What were your earliest memories of writing?
My earliest memories of writing are from my high school days. I wrote a monthly column for aChicagomagazine on the “happenings— sports, academics, social events, who doing what, and etc.” atParkerHigh School.

Were you encouraged to write or was it something that came natural?
I wouldn’t say that I was encouraged or discouraged to write. My parent’s philosophy was that you could do anything you want if you just put your mind to it. Writing was just something that I decided to do and just did.

For example, when I noticed my high school wasn’t included in the Chicagomagazine that I mentioned earlier, I called, set up a meeting, met with the editor, and got the assignment. The same thing happened when I decided to write for Fair Force Times, MacDill Air Force Base’s Officers Wives Magazine. I called, offered my services, and agreed to write a poem each month. I created a new poem each month until my family left MacDill Air Force Base.

Are you working on a new book?
Yes. I’m editing several books. A children’s book that uses prose to delineates examples of Black’s ingenuity that make life wonderful for you and me.

It is said that history repeats itself, but we are only doomed to relive our past if we fail to learn from it. The past is not a map to where you are going, it’s a record of where you have been. Its purpose is not to drag you back through emotional muck, but to serve you best by reminding you of lessons learned so you can avoid them in the future.

~Kimberly and Tom Goodwin~

The second book uses humor to look at a critical need, more parental investment in their child’s education, for some areas of our country and suggest parents  [a] remember the self-fulfilling prophecy—a statement that alters actions and therefore comes true and [b] raise their children as if they were geniuses.

Some superior minds are unrecognized because there is no standard by which to weigh them. ~Joseph Joubert~

You were inspired to write Tri-Alphabets for Greer—English, Español, Françai as a presentfor your granddaughter could you tell us a little about it?
Yes, I can. It was happenstance. My three realities converged. I have [1] a granddaughter who loves books, [2] a son who is fluent in three languages—English, Spanish and French, and [3] a burning desire to give appropriate entertaining instructional materials as gifts.

Before I realized it, the gift search had turned into a conceptual design for a book manuscript, just as quickly went through various stages, and finally was a bound book, Tri-Alphabets for Greer—English, Español, Françai. After prodding by family friends and colleagues, it was revised and published as Dr. Little’s Tri-Alphabets and More   English · Español · Français.

You also write poetry, would you be publishing a book of poetry soon?
I hope so.  As previously mentioned, I’m editing a poetry book about Black’s ingenuity that makes life wonderful for you and me and plan to turn a couple of those poems into Children’s e-books.

What was your favorite children’s book?
“The Black Emperor” It is about Toussaint L’Ouverture’s life [1743-1803]. He won international renown in the Haitian fight for independence. I can’t remember the author’s name.

L’Ouverture’s life story is impressive. It is a testament to the human spirit, ingenuity, and determination while providing an in-depth account of race relations during that time period.

Briefly, he was born inHaiti, the son of an African slave, taught to read and write – fled to join the Spanish army in the Spanish half of theIslandofHispaniola. He returned, beat the colonial French, saw off the Spanish in their half, beat a British, American and French blockade and created the first black republic in the World. When he was betrayed and captured he was taken toFrance, imprisonment and death. It is said that French soldiers lined the route from the port to the prison saluting a man they recognized as a great general.

What is the most difficult part of writing?
Editing – for me.  I have been accused of being wordy. So I edited to decrease words. I can never seem to let it go. There is always another read through, a few words to change, to add, or eliminate.

What do you do when you’re not writing or promoting your books?

Reading, family, technology, and volunteer work are my favorite pass time activities.

How do you react to a bad review and have you ever suffered from writer’s block?
I received suggestions on edit needed to the 1st edition and was eternally grateful that they were made. When you write a book such as my trilingual alphabet books, I learned that word usage varies according to where you live. Hence, what one individual sees as an incorrect word another sees it as correct.

On writer’s block, I do something for pleasure, a project around the house, or volunteer activities. I get the best ideas when I am doing other things and don’t have a tonsil or paper in hand.

What do you hope that readers will take away from your book?
As an author, I hope that readers of my children’s books enjoy them, want to read them over and over, and recommend them to others.

As an educator, I hope that readers of my children’s books learn something, feel inspired or challenge, and most of all, continue if they haven’t started on a never-ending journey in their quest for knowledge.

Who are some of your favorite authors you would love to dine with?
Suzanne Collins and Trenton Lee Stewart:
My granddaughter has told me it’s time to write a real book.  I would ask her favorite authors what mechanism they use to ensure that their characters actions are consistent with the role they are given in the book.

Keli Goff: My questions for Kelli are on introducing characters into the story line. Her introduction methods make it easy for the reader to learn their background, idiosyncrasies, and relationships to the main character.

Neil Lozano: I would want to know about the reaction his grandkids had when they discovered he had written a book for them and would my tri-lingual alphabetic book sell to his audience.

Monica McKayhan: I would ask Monica what caveats that I should observed when writing teen romance novels.

Maurice Sendak: I have often wondered what he was concept or theme he had in mind when created his illustrations for Where The Wild Things Are.

What author inspires you the most and why?

Maya Angelou. Why? Sheis an author, poet, activist, and a philanthropist. I think of her as a national treasure. Numerous others also agree. She has been awarded over 30 honorary degrees, nominated for a Pulitzer Prize, and wrote inauguration poems at their request for two presidents, Clinton in 1993 and Obama in 2009.  Specifically, she has used her time, talent, and treasure to improve the lives of others.

What discipline do you impose on yourself regarding schedules, goals, etc.?
I used to be very regimented. Last year, I decided not to schedule what, when, and how I would do things. I now know that I function best using a schedule.

I believe that goals give meaning to one’s purpose in life. Hence, I always have long and short-term goals.

What advice would you give parents on selecting the right books for their children to read?
For this question, I’ll give my educator not author answer. The parents, hopefully, will have spent time reading to their children and have a sense of what subjects and type of books they like.  If they haven’t, I would suggest spending time with their children browsing the shelves of their public library—the best bargain in town, or a large bookstore to get an idea of their preferences. The first Saturday in December is “Take You Child To A Bookstore Day”.

If their children should select book(s) that they find inappropriate, then hold discussions that carefully lead their children to making other choices. Never, ever place a value judgment on their child or their child’s selection. Remember, as an adult you have had many years to develop your views and your child has lived only a few years and hasn’t had that luxury. It is time for the parent to reflect on what Juvenal once said, “A child is owed the greatest respect; if you have ever have something disgraceful in mind, don’t ignore your son’s tender years.”

Apart from the subject matter, I would suggest that parents select books that address at least four of the points below:

  • Create a desire to learn
  • Stimulate intellectual curiosity,
  • Celebrate diversity,
  • Enhance strong character development,
  • Build upon prior knowledge,
  • Increase vocabulary,
  • Challenge ability,
  • Instill a quest for knowledge.

What advice you would give to new writers?
There are five areas I would touch upon when talking with new writers.

Learn as much as possible about the group that you intend to write for that includes their idiosyncrasies, preferences, tribulations and etc.

Research the subject or areathat you intend to write aboutuntil you know it like the back of your hand. If you decide to construct a new world, then use technology to help you learn more about the possibilities and limitations of your new world. In short, do your research before you begin writing, it will save time in the long run.

Organizations & Support Groups for authors are available at local, state and national levels. I would suggest that you first join the Society For Children Book Writers And Illustrators at the national level. They will put you in touch with your local organization where you can learn about all of the support groups.

Publish Options include getting an agent, looking for a publisher or self-publishing. Note that within these options are numerous choices. This is where research and technology should be used to the fullest

Marketing is one area that cannot be overlooked. You might write an outstanding book, get outstanding reviews, and sell very few. Need I say more about the value of marketing?

Is there anything else you would like to share with our readers?
Thank you for this interview.


MyMcBooks Interview & Review w/Author Donalisa Helsley

Posted on

Donalisa lives inTulsa, Oklahoma with her husband, David, her daughters, Jadyn and Genesis and their miniature schnauzer, Shadow. She is Wild About Reading. Donalisa has written many stories since she was a child. She is a social worker and has worked with children for over 12 years. Donalisa is finishing her Masters in Social Work so that she can be a therapist for children and adolescents.

Interview with Donalisa Helsley, author of The Day No One Played Together.

I want to thank you for being my guest here on MyMcBooks Blog

What is the last book you read?
The last book I read was “Tell No One” by Harlan Coben. I’ve already read it before but didn’t realize it until I got it home from the library. I read it again anyway because I could not remember the ending!  Also, I usually read more than one book at a time! I’ll have one on the night stand, one in the office, one in the car and some on the ipad, and my iphone. That way I always have a book wherever I go!

What were your earliest memories of writing?
I remember typing on an old typewriter at the kitchen table at nine years old. I completed my first book when I was 11. It was about 250 typed pages and it was a Christian version of “Sweet Valley High” I gave it to a friend to read and never got it back! It still frustrates me to this day!

Were you encouraged to write or was it something that came natural?
I believe it was something that came natural. I was encouraged to read and loved to. I would think of stories I wished I could read and would write them instead.

What was your favorite children’s book?
The Story of Ferdinand by Munro Leaf was my very favorite as a child. I also loved George and Martha and Amelia Bedelia books.  I  read all of the Chronicles of Narnia and the Laura Ingall’s Wilder books over and over. Growing up I was so thirsty for books I read any book that I could find in the house (even the hidden ones). So I read a lot of non fiction and A LOT of  historical romance novels (shhh don’t tell my mom!) Another of my all time  favorites is Oh, The Places You Will Go! by Dr Seuss. Which I didn’t read until I was in high school.

Are you working on a new book?
Yes, I have quite a few already written. I am currently finishing up two. One is about a big bad bully and the other is a silly mixed up fairytale. I don’t know when I will be sending any of them out to be published. “I Love You Better Than Chocolate Chip Cookies” will be out in January.

What inspired you to write ‘The Day No One Played Together’ and how did you come up with each character?
I promised my oldest daughter that I would write a story about her when she was three. She is multiracial (black, white and chinese). She wanted to see someone that looked like her in books. So the characters are based on my two daughters, Jadyn (9) and Genesis (4). I am always trying to help them figure out how to work through conflicts on their own. I  helped them learn to compromise and they loved doing it so much that I thought that maybe other children would enjoy the lesson also.

What do you hope that readers will take away from your book?
I hope that they learn that they can brainstorm creative solutions to their problems. My goal with the Jadyn and Genesis series is that children learn life and social skills in a fun way.

What do your kids think about your book?
My kids are estatic! They want to show everyone and they can’t wait for the other two books that I have written about them to be illustrated. They have told all of their friends that they can be in the books too.

Tell us about your website ‘Wild About Reading’
My website is a place you can go to learn more about me, my mission and also buy my books. It is a work in progress. I want to add links to places you can donate books for children who can’t afford them and also some tips for parents. My Wild About Reading facebook page is a page where I share tips, encouragement, book reviews, interviews of other authors, book give aways and trivia. Stop by and visit! The goal is to re-ignite a love of reading in parents and encourage it in children.

What is the most difficult part of writing?
The most difficult part is actually setting aside time to write. It seems every moment of everyday is filled with something to do. Once I have the time the words seem to flow right out.

What do you do when you’re not writing or promoting your books?
I am a mother, a student, and a therapist. So most of my time is spent studying, taking care of my family and of course reading. Oh yeah, and Facebook!

Who are some of your favorite authors you would love to dine with?
C.S. Lewis, Dr. Seuss, James Patterson, Iris Johansen, Tami Hoag….I have so many. I love reading true stories of people who have survived. I would also love to dine with people like Corrie Ten Boom, Elie Wiesel, Langston Hughes….the list could go on and on.

What author inspires you the most and why?
I am not sure who inspires me the most. I am inspired by any author who puts their work out there for the world to see. What people don’t understand is that when we write we are sharing a piece of our heart and soul. Its scary. Anyone who is brave enough to share their work and let the world see a piece of them inspires me.

What discipline do you impose on yourself regarding schedules, goals, etc.?
Procrastination is the only rule I follow consistently. Sadly, in my writing I do not impose schedules or even goals upon myself. If it comes to me I jump up and scribble it on a scrap piece of paper or I type into my ipad or whatever is handy. Once I have graduated “I have a dream” (said in a Martin Luther King Jr. voice) that I will be able to devote a more consistent and structured time to write.

What advice would you give parents on selecting the right books for their children to read?
One of my favorite quotes sums it up: “There is no such thing as a child who hates to read; there are only children that have not found the right book.” ~Frank Serafini  Let your child chose what they like. Take them to the library, the bookstore and let them wander around. If you notice they have an interest in dinosaurs or princesses find all the books about dinosaurs and princesses you can find.

I have also learned that just because I liked a book that doesn’t mean my daughters will like it. So I watch and see what they enjoy and then try to find other books like it.Readingshouldn’t be a chore. If all they want to read is comic books be happy they are reading. I do suggest checking out what they read so that you can be aware of what is going on. I try to read every YA book that comes out and is a fad because it helps me engage with my child and adolescent clients and also I figure one day my kids will be reading them.

What advice you would give to new writers?
1. Read, Read, Read. How can you be a writer if you don’t even read? 2. Find people that you trust to share your thoughts with. 3. Never stop believing in magic, the impossible and the unbelieveable. Some of the greatest books I have ever read were written by people who remembered what it was like to be a child and to dream. 4. If you are a children’s book writer I believe that there is a part of us that never grows up. Tap into that!

Is there anything else you would like to share with our readers?
Thanks for reading this. It is very humbling to think that anyone would want to read about me! By the way when I grow up I would like to be a ninja. Random? That’s me!

Thank you for this interview.
Thank you for taking the time to interview me and review my book!