Three Random Questions Interview with Author-Firefighter Danual Berkley

Danual Berkley is a full-time fire fighter, husband, father of two little boys, Army vet, and a guy with a dream. His dream is to one day become a well-known children’s author providing positive representation for black men, while tackling the lack of diversity in children’s literature for people of color.

 Bonnie Ferrante: Welcome, Danual. I’m so glad you agreed to an interview. You’ve gone from being in the army to being a fire fighter, both requiring huge acts of courage and selflessness. Why do you choose these kinds of careers?

Danual Berkley: Hello Bonnie. Thank you so much for having me! I chose these two careers for two separate reasons actually. While in high school, I always kept pretty good grades. I had no idea how to use those grades to get scholarships to pay for college, nor was I really interested in doing another 4 years of school after being in school my entire life. I knew that going to the military would put money in my pocket, and later on they would pay for me to attend college as well. I wanted to go infantry at first, but my older brother David talked me out of it because he was worried about my safety.  Instead, I decided to drive trucks. The funny thing is, once I found out that I was deploying to Iraq, the military changed my job and I became a gunner in the 66th Transportation Gun Truck Company. My job was to provide security for convoys that we escorted throughout Iraq.  This turned out to be a job that was just as much, if not more, dangerous than being an infantryman.

It was also my brother that led me to the fire department. I wanted to be a S.W.A.T officer on a police department. I was seeking a job with action. My brother called me up one day and told me the fire department was hiring, and that they paid very well. By this time, I was in my 3rd year of college, and had my first son on the way.  I thought it would be a great opportunity to provide for my son, if I was lucky enough to get the job. After a year of testing and waiting, I was offered the job. I went to the fire academy and learned that firefighting was actually the best job there was and offered tons of action. I’ve been hooked and loving it ever since! I’ve been on six and a half years now.

Ferrante: You have recently entered into the field of writing children’s picture books. What  made you choose such a divergent enterprise?

Berkley: I didn’t discover I had a talent in writing until I was in the 11th grade. My English teacher made it mandatory that the class entered the Young Author’s Competition. The choice she gave us was to write either a poem or a short story. I wasn’t really trying to do a lot of work, so I wrote a short poem that it took me all the way to the State Competition where I took 3rd place overall in poetry. After that, I wouldn’t write again for years until I found myself fighting in the Iraq War. In order to escape my reality, I started writing again and making up different kinds of characters in faraway places. As I became more serious about my writing and became published, I met Amariah. Amariah was my first encounter with someone who was actually very successful creating children’s stories. She was the one that introduced me to writing picture books, because up until then, all I had been writing were books set to be a collection of poetry. With that said, I encourage all people to continue trying new things because you never know how much you’ll love something or how good you are at something, until you try it!

Ferrante: Your book, Davy’s Pirate Ship Adventure, features an African-American family. The little boy is the hero who saves the family from the sea monster and turns the sinking ship into a submarine. Picture books should always make children feel empowered. Looking at the dedication in the front of your book to your sons, “Don’t ever let someone’s misunderstanding change who you are.” I can see that that is deeply important to you. Do you feel there are enough books out there for your children to feel culturally included and valued?

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 Berkley: Based on my personal experience (as well as research), no. There are not enough books out that represent children of color. Whether or not that child feels culturally included or valued, varies with each individual child. I do know as a kid growing up, I didn’t really have the opportunity to read or see books with African-American families, but as an adult, when I see a book with African American families I get excited to see characters in the stories both my family and I can relate to. It feels good seeing a reflection of yourself in a story.

Ferrante: Previously you mentioned negative stereotypes about black men, one being that they don’t raise their children. In a cosmic moment of serendipity, I heard a comedian, Mark James Heath, speaking on the expressions of surprise when Caucasian people see him engaged with his children. In this regard, it seems as though literature has not caught up with television. I see a number of shows with involved black fathers but picture books seem rather rare. This is unfortunate since they are often the earliest stories of families children experience.  I have two questions. How does your book address this topic? How can Caucasian writers help in this area?

Berkley: To answer your first question, In Davy’s Pirate Ship Adventure I address the topic indirectly. I don’t come out and say straight forward that I’m a black man raising my kids. I simply show myself being an involved father throughout the story. I have other books I’ve written that have yet to be published, that shows the love and compassion I have for my sons a lot more. The actions in the story speak louder than any words could express.

In regards to your second question, Caucasian writers who do have large followings could help by also writing books that show positive black male fathers.

Ferrante: What other attitudes toward black men do you hope to influence in your writing?

Berkley: Other negative stereotypes say black men don’t settle down with one woman and get married, as well as being violent individuals. All of my stories are geared to show how untruthful these stereotypes are. Black men do settle down and get married, and black men are not people you have to fear. We are here to love and enjoy life just as any other person would want to.

Ferrante: Do you intend to write more books featuring Davy and his family or are you considering other characters?

Berkley: I have several other unpublished books where all of the characters in Davy’s Pirate Ship Adventure play lead characters. In the back of Davy’s Pirate Ship Adventure, you can find the backstories of all of the characters. I did this because each character will be seen again in other stories, and it ties them all together. Readers will be able to develop relationships with each character and experience stories from that character’s point of view.

Ferrante: Have you ever considered writing a firefighter picture book featuring a black man or a black woman for that matter? By the way, I live in northern Canada where most black immigrants take a look at the winter weather and head south so I’ve never seen firefighter of African descent. Is it common in your firehouse?

Berkley: I do have a firefighting story already written with Davy as the main character. As of now, there are other stories we plan to release before that one is to be published. The next book will most likely star my younger son as the main character.

In regards to how many black firefighters there are on a department, it varies by population. I live in a predominantly white area, so most firefighters in our department are white. I’m sure there are other places where the majority of firefighters are people of color.

Ferrante: Is there anything we haven’t talked about that you would like to share with my readers?

Berkley: Please check out my website and social media pages to learn more about my work at the following links:

https://www.instagram.com/poetryfixdb/

https://www.facebook.com/poemsbydanual/

https://www.danualberkley.com/

Ferrante: Now for the unusual part. My interviews always feature three random questions so here we go.

1. If you could play a sport at Olympic level, which one would you choose?

Berkley: It would definitely have to be snowboarding! Although I have never been snowboarding in my life, it just looks really fun to do, and it allows you to be as creative as you want. I love sledding here during the winter, so I can only imagine how awesome it would be to snowboard down the side of a mountain.

Ferrante: 2. You really do love action.

 If you could give a gift to every new parent, what would you give them?

Berkley: It would have to be a dishwasher. It’s impossible to keep up with the amount of bottles, plates, baby accessories, and breast feeding equipment on top of the dishes you use yourself. The only way you can survive is by having a dishwasher, so in words of Oprah, “You get a dishwasher, you get a dishwasher, everyone gets a dishwasher!”

Ferrante: 3.  LOL. That brings back memories.

 If you could be an animal for a day, what would you be?

Berkley: If I got to be an animal for one day it would have to be a rodent! I watch a lot of Animal Planet, and being a rodent seems really adventurous and exciting. I’m sure I’d probably regret that decision instantly if I ever really had the opportunity to be a mouse. But in all of the movies I’ve seen, being a mouse seems like a good time!

Ferrante: I did NOT expect that answer. 🙂

 Thank you for participating in my interview and answering both my serious and silly questions. Best of luck with your wonderful book Davy’s Pirate Ship Adventure and all your future enterprises.

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Three Random Questions Interview with Author Joy Heyer.

Bonnie Ferrante: Welcome Joy Heyer to my blog. Duck, Duck, Moose seems to be your first book. If that is correct, what inspired you to use animals in your book and feature such an unusual take on a child’s game?

Joy Heyer: I love puns and word play so when the phrase “Duck, Duck, Moose” popped into my head, I immediately pictured a fearful duck riding on the back of a moose. How did the duck get to the moose? Where was goose? What would it be like to play duck, duck, goose with a moose instead? Or a pig? Or a porcupine? And suddenly I had a picture book.

Ferrante: When did you begin writing and why have you chosen children’s picture books as your genre?

Heyer: I studied writing and illustrating children’s books when I was in college but it wasn’t until 2009, when a friend invited me to join her writing group, that I really started seriously writing and illustrating.

Ferrante: You have four children and are now a grandmother as well. Have you used your family as inspiration for your book?

Heyer: Oh yes! My children have been sad, grumpy, and lonely many times because their best friends were out of town. Watching them decide to be happy and make new friends is always a delight.

Ferrante: I see we have similar interest in reading, writing, painting, sewing, and dreaming up home-improvement projects. How do you balance these interests? Do you switch for a break after a long period working on one craft or do you do several at a time? How does this impact your writing?

Heyer: Drawing and painting are my favorite things to do so I have to make sure I set aside time for all the other things that need doing, including reading and writing. Fortunately, reading, writing, and drawing are interconnected so I find myself doing at least a little of each every day. As for home-improvement projects…well, maybe someday I will get to them.

Ferrante: Your bio mentioned that you have a dog that goes crazy whenever you leave the house. Do you think this pet might show up in one of your future books?

Heyer: Definitely. He provides me with lots of great story ideas—so many I hope to create a whole series of books with him as the main character.

Ferrante: That sounds fun. As a new author, what have you learned the hard way that you wish you had known earlier?

Heyer: It takes a lot of hard work and practice to be good at writing and illustrating. Who knows? Maybe I would be discussing my tenth book instead of my first book if I had started practicing earlier!

Ferrante: Absolutely. What are you working on now?

Heyer: I continue to draw and write everyday (practice, practice, practice!) so when the next project comes, I’m ready. In the meantime, I’m enjoying sharing Duck, Duck, Moose with everyone. Maybe I could start a home-improvement project…

Ferrante: Is there anything I haven’t asked that you would like to share?

Heyer: I would encourage everyone to find someone who is lonely and be their friend, even if at first they are grumpy. Just like moose and duck.

Ferrante: If you could MC any television show which one would you choose?

Heyer: PBS Masterpiece Mystery! I LOVE mystery shows and books. It all started with my first Nancy Drew book. Maybe one day I will write a mystery book, maybe a dog who solves crimes…

Ferrante: Go for it! If you could compete at an Olympic level, which sport would you pick?

Heyer: Snowboard Half-Pipe. I would love to have that talent. I can’t even handle little rollercoasters so all that twisting and spinning they do is doubly impressive to me.

Ferrante: That’s a gusty choice. What is your favourite children song and why?

Heyer: The Itsy-Bitsy Spider, though in our home it is the Eeby-Beeby Spider because that is how one of my daughters sang it when she was little. It reminds me of the happiness one little song sung by a child can bring.

Ferrante: There’s nothing sweeter, that’s for sure. Thank you for answering my questions and sharing your experience with us. Best of luck with Duck, Duck, Moose and your future writing.

Book review of Duck, Duck, Moose

What If You Overheard a Murderer? – Author Philip Cox Three Random Questions Interview

Today we will meet an author who writes for adults. Do you remember the cold February weather? Philip Cox’s thriller/mysteries will make you shiver just as much as that northern wind.

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Bonnie Ferrante: Welcome, Phillip. You began your writing career as a stay-at-home father. How did you find the time and the energy to write After the Rain, Dark Eyes of London, Something to Die For, Don’t Go Out Into the Dark, and Wrong Time to Die all within four years?

Philip Cox: Actually, it’s six years now, and She’s Not Coming Home and Should Have Looked Away are somewhere in there too. Writing a book is something I’d always wanted to do. When our eldest daughter was born, I took a career break from my job in banking and started After the Rain, which finally came out in 2011. Time management and self-discipline are very important: there are always potential distractions. As far as the energy is concerned, that’s just lots of black coffee and chocolate cookies!

     

Click on the book covers for more information.

Ferrante: Several of your books take place in the United States of America. Why have you chosen to write in that setting instead of England?

Cox: For a book to enjoy any success it has to sell in necessary numbers in both the United States and the UK. US readers are more likely to be interested in a story set in their own country. Places like London or Paris might be an exception. As far as UK readers are concerned, with a story set in somewhere like New York or Los Angeles, there’s that familiarity because of the movies and TV, and at the same time the exoticism and foreignness. I tend to pick New York and LA as they are places I know very well. In Wrong Time to Die the main character visits several restaurants and bars: they’re all real places. I’ve been to them.

 Click on the book cover for more information.

Ferrante: Why do you write in the thriller genre? Are you inspired by anything in the news or real life?

Cox: The authors I enjoy reading most range from Lee Child and James Patterson right through to Agatha Christie and Denis Wheatley. I took inspiration for After the Rain from a newspaper article I read about a guy from South London who was on vacation somewhere and went missing. Don’t Go Out in the Dark was something on Facebook. I was sitting in one of the stalls in a restroom and overheard a conversation. I got to thinking how scary it would be to be to hear a murder, even scarier if you had one of your children with you! So I took the plot of Should Have Looked Away from there.

               

Click on the book covers for more information.

Ferrante: Your interests include the history of cinema and model railroading. Is your basement filled with models? Have you ever written about either of these?

Cox: Ha! Not the basement – some years back I had the garage converted into a den! No, I’ve not thought about including model railroading, but I’m also interested in full sized ones. The Underground (subway) in London is the oldest in the world and has lots of history. A lot of the action in Dark Eyes of London takes place there, and there is a suggestion at the start of the book that readers download a system map so they can follow the events.

Ferrante: I’m assuming that since you write thrillers, you’re a plotter.

 Cox: Generally, the outline isn’t too precise when I start. I have an idea what the story’s going to be about and how it will end (generally) but I’ll flesh details out as I go along. Sometimes the story will develop in a different way to how I first envisioned it. I’ll always start at the beginning, and have never written the climax first; however, if I’m suffering from block, I might write a future chapter or two, then tailor the action to reach that stage. Better than stalling.

Ferrante: With two children to care for, a quiet and private place to work must be a challenge. Do you have a routine that you follow every day?

Cox: I tend to write when the children are at school or when they’ve gone to sleep. If that’s not possible, I’ll take myself off to the local library, but there are distractions there as well. I tend to pencil out a couple of chapters in rough – just an outline – one day, then hit the keyboard the next, alternating like that. With everything else going on, I’d find it too tiring to be typing day in, day out. I do target myself, not numbers of pages, but numbers of words. When I start a book, I’m aiming for around 65000 words. When I know when I need to finish the first draft, I can then calculate how many words I need to achieve each week. I also try to keep it Monday to Fridays: that way, I have time weekends to make up any shortfall.

Ferrante: What do you find the most challenging about writing?

Cox: Trying to come up with something original. Not easy. For example, the one I’m working on now is the third in a series featuring an LAPD detective. I came across a piece a few weeks back about an old Navajo superstition which says if someone’s on a journey and a coyote crosses their path, they have to abandon the journey, as it means they will meet with a fatal accident. The mystic side of that appealed to me and I planned on working that into the plot. I even thought up a title: The Last Coyote. As I always do, I checked on Amazon if there was already a book with that title and there was – a Harry Bosch novel! So it was back to the drawing board on that one. I’ve found it a good idea to have a notepad and pen with me 24/7 because little ideas will always flash through my mind at the most unexpected times. Another challenge can be boredom: if it’s hard going, and nothing’s coming through, it’s easy to get distracted to just do something else, so yes, you do need the discipline.

Ferrante: What do you find the most rewarding?

Cox: Getting the royalties! That’s not as glib as it sounds: whilst everybody likes to see those credits on their bank statements, to receive a payment for something I’ve personally created is an amazing feeling. Of course it’s not 100% me: others proof-read, and help with research, but in the main, it’s my achievement. When I worked in banking, that was all down to the guys who founded the bank however many years ago, and I was working something that others had set up and created.  Here, the books are my creation. Hope that doesn’t sound too lofty. Also rewarding is when I either first see the eBook on the Amazon sales pages or when I unwrap my copy of the paperback version. I was present at the births of both my children, and the feeling of seeing a new book is second only to how I felt then. Not a close second, by the way; some way behind, but second nonetheless.

Ferrante: What advice would you have for beginning writers starting their first novel?

Cox: When it’s finished, get somebody else to proof-read: you will miss loads, and lose your credibility.

Ferrante: Is there something you would like to share with your readers that I haven’t asked?

Cox: My favourite movie genre is horror, the black and white Universal pictures from the 30s and 40s, and the colour pictures from Hammer Films years later. I met and had a conversation with Christopher Lee once, an unforgettable experience.  I have a couple of CDs of soundtracks of the Hammer horror pictures, and once I got my wife to play excerpts, shuffled, to see if I could guess the movie. I got 100%! How sad is that!

three random questions

Ferrante: If you could create a memorial to yourself in a city park, what would that memorial be?

Cox: I think a life-sized statue of me sitting reading a book. Hopefully that will encourage more kids to get off their computer games and read a book. E-books allowed, of course.

Ferrante: If you could go back in time and ask any famous person in history one question, whom would you question and what would you ask? Assume that you would be given a completely honest answer.

Cox: Jesus Christ. I’d like to ask him: all the stuff I’ve heard, all the things I’ve read – is it actually true?

Ferrante: If, with your safety guaranteed, you could experience something considered very dangerous, what would you want to experience most of all?

Cox: To go into space, and see the world as it really is, as an actual planet, with the moon over there, the sun over there, and the stars way out there in the distance. That might link in with question 2.

Website:   www.philipcox.moonfruit.com

Twitter:  @philipcoxbooks

Instagram: philipcox_books

Facebook:  /Philip Cox

Don’t Go Out in the Dark book review.

Not Afraid to Write the Truth: Activist/Author Eric Lotke Three Random Questions Interview

Bonnie Ferrante: Books For All Ages

 

Note: the three random questions are from “Chat Pack – Fun Questions to Spark Conversations”.

Writing/Righting History & Getting Toddlers to Eat – Author Delin Colón Three Random Questions Interview

delinglasses1aDelin Colón is a writer and freelance editor with a background in clinical psychology.

Bonnie Ferrante: Welcome, Delin. You have had a number of career paths. Tell us a little about them and how they led to your writing.

Delin Colón: Thank you, Bonnie. Actually, I wrote my first poem at the age of eight (in 1958). Several were published in minor literary magazines during my high school and college years. Then came essays and short stories.

While I had majored in French and French literature in my undergraduate years, I turned to clinical psychology in graduate school which combined my love of research and working with people, and led to counseling children and adults in a variety of clinical settings such as psychiatric hospitals, halfway houses, walk-in clinics and a juvenile detention center. This background led to a job as a technical writer for Sociological Abstracts. I loved the challenge of reducing an experiment or study down to four sentences describing the essence of the article.

A decade or so later, as the co-owner and manager of a stairbuilding company, I saw a need in the marketplace for a clearinghouse of all kinds of writers and formed a company that matched freelance writers with jobs. But the real impetus for publishing my first book, Rasputin and the Jews, came from reading the memoirs of my great-great uncle who spent a decade as Gregory Rasputin’s secretary/manager.

Ferrante: You have written two very different books, a historical nonfiction called Rasputin and the Jews and a picture booked titled Zeke Will Not Eat. Let’s talk about the first one for a bit. How much research did that involve? Did you have the plot and then do the research or did you discover the plot as you researched?

Colón: Actually, Rasputin and the Jews: A Reversal of History is the culmination of 15 years of researching the writings of people who knew Rasputin. My father had always told me that his great uncle, Aron Simanovitch, had been Rasputin’s secretary. For years I tried to research my ancestor but with little luck until the late 1990s when I found, on the internet, an out-of-print copy of Simanovitch’s memoirs in French. It did not seem to have been professionally edited at all, as there was a lot of repetition and poor organization of the manuscript. However, what struck me about it, first of all, was that my great-great uncle was one of the few Jews permitted to live outside Russia’s Pale of Settlement where most Jews were confined. But even more importantly, his memoirs conveyed a completely different image of Rasputin than history and myth have recorded.

My second book was my English translation, with historical annotations, of Simanovitch’s memoirs, titled Rasputin: The Memoirs of His Secretary by Aron Simanovitch.

Ferrante: How do you organize your research and make it easy to find something you read later on? I read that you worked on the book for 15 years. You must have been buried in documents.

Colón: Most of the books I read about Rasputin propagated the demonic myth that had been fabricated by the Russian nobility to discredit him. But there were quite a few quotes and memoirs from those who knew him intimately, on a nearly daily basis (such as my great-great uncle and Maria Rasputin), that told the story of a humanitarian (who, okay, loved to party) who, contrary to government policy and to the wrath of the aristocracy, advocated equal rights for oppressed minorities as well a voice in government for all citizens.

With regard to organizing the research, I used a simple index card file with the subject and date of the quote or event at the top, the quote in the body of the card, and the title, author and page of the resource information at the bottom. The cards were then organized by subject matter and then chronologically within each chapter’s subject.

Ferrante: Can you give us a sentence or two about Rasputin and the Jews?

Colón: Rasputin and The Jews: A Reversal of History is the product of research providing evidence that the Russian nobility, clergy and bureaucracy conspired in a smear campaign against Rasputin because they saw him as dangerous:

  1. for advocating equal rights for Jews (in opposition to the laws restricting their lives)
  2. for the popularity of his upbeat sermons of a loving God (in contrast to the fear of God preached in the Russian Orthodox Church)
  3. for being anti-war and preaching peace during World War I.
  4. and for believing that all citizens should have a say in government…the biggest threat to the nobility.

Ferrante: Why did you challenge the tradition beliefs about Rasputin?

Colón: History is written by the victors, not by the common man.  It became clear to me that Rasputin became a collateral victim of, among other things, the virulent anti-Semitism of the aristocracy, bureaucracy and clergy. My research revealed that it was not only my ancestor’s experience that Rasputin was a generous man, a healer and a progressive humanitarian, but that others who knew him well witnessed the same traits, refuting the demonic image. For me, it was a matter of righting a century-old injustice. Interestingly, Rasputin and The Jews led me to a correspondence with Rasputin’s great-great granddaughter in France. She tours Europe and Russia lecturing to dispel the myths about Rasputin.

Click on the cover to buy Rasputin and the Jews

Ferrante: Your latest book is a picture book for children, Zeke Will Not Eat.  Why did you choose this subject?

Colón: I’m in the process of writing a series of books for 2 to 6 year-olds, addressing typical toddler issues. Zeke Will Not Eat is the second one. I’ve done some research on the most common problems parents of this age group face and not eating is high on the list. The first book, Katy Rose Likes To Say NO!, addresses that stage where children assert their independence and establish themselves as separate from their parents by saying “no.”

Click on the picture to buy Katy Rose Likes to Say NO!

Ferrante: Did the technique used in the book come from personal experience?

Colón: Yes it did. It was a technique I devised for myself as a child, using my imagination to make mealtime more interesting for myself. It was completely internal and not something I mentioned to my parents or siblings.

Ferrante: Do you have any other tips for parents having mealtime difficulties with a child?

Colón: At the beginning of each of these little books, there is a note to parents explaining the behavior and its purpose in the child’s development. With Zeke, I note that, barring medical issues, there are a variety of reasons for a child’s unwillingness to sit down at the table for a meal, from filling up on snacks and drinks too close to mealtime, to feeling excluded from the conversation, or simply exercising newly found manipulative abilities.

Click on the cover to buy Zeke Will Not Eat

In Katy Rose, my note to parents stresses that it is not only normal, but developmentally necessary for children to go through a “no” phase in order to assert themselves in the world and establish a Self, an identity separate from their parents. As powerless beings subject to adult authority, “no” is often a child’s first taste of power and individuality. But when it becomes routine defiance or is hurtful to friends, it is an opportunity to teach compassion and the unfortunate consequences of negativity. There is also discussion on when it is important to say “no.” One way to avoid “no” is to make statements rather than ask questions, reducing the possibility of options. Rather than asking, “Do you want to go for a walk?” saying, “Let’s go…” or “Now we’ll go…” assumes the event will occur and doesn’t give an option.

Ferrante: The illustrations seemed odd at first glance until I read how they were done using the same 150 shapes arranged and rearranged to create pictures. Why did you choose this technique?

Colón: I grew up in a small town on the east coast that was essentially an artists’ colony. My mother is an artist and we were always given art projects to do, in a variety of media. One of the most famous artists in our town was Ben Shahn. His teenage daughter, Susie, happened to be visiting at my friend’s house when I was about 7 years old. She sat us kids down on the floor, cut a huge variety of shapes from construction paper and had us arrange the shapes into an image on a blank piece of paper. It was like doing a jigsaw puzzle with no ‘right’ outcome; just whatever our imaginations could conjure.

I’ve been enamored of this technique ever since, and have a website of other images I’ve created, in addition to the book illustrations. (http://delin-colon.pixels.com/)

I have nothing in mind when cutting the pieces of varying shapes, lengths and sizes. The challenge is in turning them into illustrations that convey the text. One image might take a couple of days to a week to produce. By the way, all of the pieces used in Katy Rose were also used in Zeke, with a few dozen more added for the latter. Instructions for doing such a parent-child art project are at the back of each book. Alternatively, a child could color in the black and white images, as one would in a coloring book.

Ferrante: I don’t think people realize how challenging it is until they try it.

What are you working on now?

Colón: I’m conjuring the third book in the series which will be about telling the truth, a more difficult and abstract concept than the first two. Interestingly, my research revealed a study showing that children are more likely to tell the truth after hearing positive stories (like George Washington being praised for admitting he chopped down the cherry tree) than they are after hearing stories with negative consequences for lying (like The Boy Who Cried Wolf or Pinocchio

In addition, I have half a dozen rough chapters of an existential coming-of-age novel illustrating how Self and Identity are shaped and the conundrum that there is no absolute Self without outside influences.

Ferrante: Interesting. That’s similar to Buddhism.

Is there anything I haven’t asked that you would like to share with my readers?

Colón: This is the most thorough and in-depth interview I’ve done, with questions that pertain specifically to my work, as opposed to the general, stock questions that others ask every writer. I’ve really had to think about them. I just hope that your readers find some of my work of interest.

Ferrante: I’m sure parents of toddlers will appreciate your tips.

Three Random Questions:

Ferrante: What was the craziest thing you ever bought?

Colón:   I’ve never been a lover of shopping and have generally stuck to practical items but several decades ago I was intrigued by an ad for an electric device that could be set at various brain wave frequencies to induce alertness, memory, sleep, creativity, or relaxation. I was especially interested in increasing the Theta waves for creativity. At different times, I tried each different setting, wearing dark goggles that pulsed light flashes at different rates and head phones that played tones in the desired frequencies. They all tended to produce the same result for me: I’d fall asleep and have some very bizarre dreams. Not long after, I’d be awakened by one of my teenagers asking when dinner would be ready. Frankly, I never noticed any greater creativity, fatigue or relaxation in the ensuing meal preparations.

Ferrante: In your opinion, what song has the most beautiful chorus?

Colón: That’s a tough one. I guess the one closest to my heart would be Helen Reddy’s “You and Me Against the World:”

You and me against the world,
Sometimes it seems like you and me against the world,
When all the others turn their backs and walk away,
You can count on me to stay.

It describes perfectly the close relationship I had with my older son, a musician who, even at the age of 27, before his death eight years ago, proudly described himself as “mama’s boy.”

The song continues:

And when one of us is gone,
And one of us is left to carry on,
Then remembering will have to do,
Our memories alone will get us through
Think about the days of me and you,
Of you and me against the world.

Ferrante: Oh, I am so sorry. I can’t imagine losing my son. My deepest condolences.

Last question. Do you like your first name? What would you like to have been called?

Colón: I do like my first name (accent on the second syllable: de-LIN) mostly because I created it. It is not the name on my birth certificate, but a mash-up of my names that I’ve been using for over 50 years. I was given a Hebrew name, Chana Dvora, and though I like it, it doesn’t exactly roll off the tongue, especially with the guttural “ch.” But if I had it to do over, from scratch, I always thought “Kate” suited me.

Again, Bonnie, thank you so much for this opportunity. I don’t think I’ve ever given such a heartfelt interview … probably because I was never asked such well-considered questions.

Ferrante: Thank you. I try to make my interviews unique to the interviewee. You’ve shared a lot of information with us. This is, by far, the longest interview I’ve printed but it is chock full of value and cool ideas. Thank you for participating.

Zeke Will Not Eat was reviewed on this blog March 20, 2017.

Bonnie Ferrante: Books For All Ages

Three random questions are from a Bit of Banter, the Game That Gets You Talking)

Get Featured on My Blog

books owl comic

Information on: Book Reviews, Author Interviews, Promos, Guest Posts and Critiques of works in progress.

No thanks to crowd-funding or kickstarter campaigns.

NOTE: This blog also appears on Amazon, Goodreads, and Tumblr.

Review Policy

I am accepting paper books for review at this time.

I mostly review children’s picture books (85%), middle grade books, and young adult books. Please follow this blog to familiarize yourself with what I do. I do review the occasional adult book, especially those I think parents would be interested in.  (I do not review books that have horror, erotica, religion, politics, excessive violence, born again, amateur self-help, true paranormal, angels, or saved by something. No animal exploitation, cult membership, racism, homophobia, misogyny, or hate literature of any kind. I will promote very few memoirs. They must have something exceptional to say. No poetry, unless it’s kid’s poetry.

You must be a blog follower.

I also accept picture books for review from the artist. I am not an arts major, so the review will not be an intensive analysis of the art work although I always comment on the art in books I review. For an example of how I review an artist’s work, go here on or after March 27, 2017.

Go here for details on requesting a review.

Interview Policy

I am accepting requests for reviews. Interviews are presently scheduled every Wednesday up to July 2017. I am running a series called “Three Random Questions.Please follow to familiarize yourself with my interviews. I do not send a canned list of questions but research each author and tailor the questions to them and their work.

Click here for details on requesting an interview.

Promotions

A promotional page for a book can be requested at any time. I will only run a maximum of one per week. You must send me a printed copy of the book for my Little Free Library.  A Promotion page may include 3-4 pictures, links, a blurb, and other information. No more than 800 words please. Unless I have reviewed at least one of your books (favourably), a promotion does not mean I will endorse your work. If your book captures my eye, I will probably review it. If it receives 3-5 starts, I may ask you for an interview.

Click here for details on submitting a promotion.

Guest Post

Guest posts are welcome to a maximum of one per week. Follow my blog to get an understanding of what I publish.A guest post should be 900-1200 words.These are suitable topics:

  • Book reviews of picture books, early chapter books, and young adult books.
  • Information, inspiration, education, and creation pertaining to children and families.
  • An article about writing for children or with children. Make this helpful and relevant to my readers. This should not be an account of your books.
  • Tips for reading to and with children.
  • Anything about writing or researching for writing or children’s books.
  • Working with, helping, educating, or parenting children.Please no religion or politics. Nothing misogynistic, racially divisive, homophobic, or animal exploitation. (Anything about involving children with rescued animals or the outdoors is great.)

Picture Book in Progress Critique

I will focus on three major areas for improvement (if you have them).

For details on this process, go here.

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Toy Review

I also may review a children’s toy, game or activity. Please contact me if you want to submit one for review.

Click here for the details.

Interview

Check out my interview.

http://wordsonalimb.com/2014/04/24/words-on-a-limb-interviews-bonnie-ferrante/

What is your favourite quote?
“The glass is already broken.” It’s a Buddhist quote that means it’s best not to become preoccupied with possession because they are intransient. Immediately let go of your attachment to things like the new car. When it gets its first scratch, as it inevitably will, you won’t get all worked up about it because you know every single thing on this planet, every single person as well, becomes damaged with time. There is an end to everything. Enjoy beautiful things while you have them but don’t covet them. Accept that everything changes.

and more.

Bonnie Ferrante: Books For All Ages