Interview

Willie the Wheelchair by Remon M. Jourdan

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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, Reyality.com, 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.

 

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Author: Remon M. Jourdan
Page Count: 24
Genre: Picture Book
Price: $8.98
Available at: Reyality.com and Amazon.com


Synopsis

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.

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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.

 

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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 www.Reyality.com.

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

WillieTheWheelChair

Our Daddy By Rene Guity

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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: www.pickupthepace.co or Amazon

Synopsis
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.

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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 www.guitygirlsgolf.com.  So needless to say my girls are my priority.  Thanks again for the opportunity to share!  Blessings!

OurDaddy

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

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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.

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