Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Interview with Author, Katy Koontz

Today's blog is all about author, Katy Koontz. She has a fabulous new children's book titled, The Banana Police. I'll let her tell you more.

A bit about Katy and her published works

I’m one of those unusual people who ended up being exactly what she wanted to be—a writer. As a freelancer, I’ve published articles in many magazines and newspapers (Reader's Digest, Health, Parenting, National Geographic Traveler, The New York Times, The Washington Post, and Woman’s Day, among them). I’m also the author of a travel guidebook called Family Fun in the Smokies: A Family-Friendly Guide to the Great Smoky Mountains (published by the Great Smoky Mountains Association earlier this year) and Smoky Mountain Travel Guide (a Sutro Media travel app for smartphones that was also released this year). But when I was a little girl, growing up outside of Philadelphia, my dreams about being a writer were all about authoring children’s books. So now that my children’s picture book, The Banana Police, has been published, I finally became a success from the perspective of my peanut-butter-and-jelly-age self.  (I love that!)

Katy latest project

The Banana PoliceMy latest book is The Banana Police, a children’s picture book written by me and illustrated by Kelsey C. Roy. It takes place in a sweet little jungle town where people happily co-exist with elephants—until the townspeople become increasingly annoyed with their lovable, lumpy, neighbors. After all, the elephants snore loudly, hog the best seats at the movies, and block all the aisles in the supermarket. Who needs that? When Mayor McFroontz calls on the Elephant Police to devise a clever scheme to get the elephants to leave, the town ends up buried in all the extra bananas the beasts usually eat. The Mayor then calls on the Banana Police to deal with the bananas, but it’s the townspeople themselves who (burp!) finally get rid of them. Everyone ends up learning—immediately, if not sooner, as the Mayor is known to say—just how vital those pesky pachyderms really are. (Sounds like such a FUN and ENLIGHTENING read.) 

Katy's inspiration for The Banana Police

I wrote The Banana Police for my daughter, Sam, when she was a newborn. I’ve always been a writer, although I make my living writing and editing non-fiction. But when I had Sam, I thought it might be fun to write some silly stories for her. When I was a child, I wrote stories all the time, and I even wrote a song called “Elephant Banana” for my stuffed elephant PJs to sing. So when I sat down to write something for my daughter, that song came to mind, and it got me to thinking about elephants and bananas. And then The Banana Police just tumbled out of my imagination almost all on its own.

I think part of the reason for that was that I wasn’t writing for anyone else—it was just a fun thing I wanted to do because I was so excited to have this beautiful little baby girl. I had no pressure to write, and I doubt very much that my newborn had any expectations! (If she did, she certainly kept them to herself!) I read it to Sam several times when she was small, and I even read it to her kindergarten class once. But I didn’t decide to try to publish it until 2007, when Sam was 14 and in her last year of middle school. I did some more tweaking here and there, but essentially, the tale is much the same way that it originally came to me.
Why readers will love The Banana Police

First of all, it’s a sweet story with lots of colorful characters, including resident elephants, a wacky mayor, and creative townspeople who work together to solve a problem. But what really makes this story shine is that the unspoken message is about the value of peaceful co-existence and cooperation between inherently different groups—in this case, the elephants and the townspeople. There’s not a preachy word in The Banana Police, and yet my hope is that this underlying message will inspire the next generation to do a better job of getting along with one another than we’ve been able to do.

Authors who have inspired Katy
Miss Pickerell Goes to MarsThe classic children’s storybooks inspire me the most, because they bring up memories of what it was like to read those stories as a child. And they’re rich memories, indeed. Some of my favorite books growing up were A.A. Milne’s Winnie-the-Pooh and The House at Pooh Corner as well as Lewis Carroll’s Alice in Wonderland and Through the Looking Glass. I still have a quote from Eeyore (via A. A. Milne) taped to my desk lamp, and I am very fond of quoting Lewis Carroll’s characters. I also loved Mary Poppins by P.L. Travers, the Miss Pickerell series by Ellen MacGregor, the many animal stories of Beatrix Potter, and the Dr. Doolittle books by Hugh Lofting.

Her advice for less seasoned writers (Completely great by the way)

Keep at it. Don’t get discouraged by the difficulty of getting published, or at least try not to park yourself in that negative space too often. The less pressure you put on yourself, the better, because the more fun you have with your writing, the more engaging your stories will be. 

 Interesting story about the illustrator, Kelsey C. Roy (Who just so happens to be illustrating my picture book at the moment. I had not heard this story. Totally cool to find out.) 

With a picture book, the illustrations are just as important as the text. I really got lucky when a young artist named Kelsey C. Roy agreed to bring The Banana Police to life. And how we found each other is a fun story. Normally, the publisher finds the illustrator, but in this case, my daughter Sam played a key role. Kelsey spoke at Sam’s high school during Sam’s senior year, and although Sam is generally hard to impress, she came home raving about how cool Kelsey was. When Sam suggested that I consider asking Kelsey to be my illustrator, I checked out the artwork on her website and instantly knew this was exactly the look I wanted for The Banana Police. Fortunately, my publisher Willow Moon agreed. And when I contacted Kelsey, she loved the story and got ideas almost instantly. Her illustrations are whimsical, humorous, and creative—with just the right amount of silly mixed in. She’s done a brilliant job. 

Contacting the amazing Katy Koontz.
Author Website:


Friday, October 12, 2012

Cover Reveal for "Dark Nebula"-Yes, Please!!

If you're like me and love everything that is the literary world of young adult, you are not going to want to miss out on W.J. May's Chronicles of Kerrigan series. The first book in the series, Rae of Hope, left me rooting for Rae and biting my nails until the release of the sequel, Dark Nebula. I can't believe Dark Nebula is almost here!!! December 15th, 2012 can't get here fast enough! But until then, enjoy the cover reveal of Dark Nebula. And make sure to check back in November for the book trailer reveal.

Dark Nebula Book Description:

Nothing is as it seems anymore.

Leery from the horrifying incident at the end of her first year at Guilder Boarding School, Rae Kerrigan is determined to learn more about her new tattoo. Her expectations are high, an easy senior year and a happy reunion with Devon— the boy she’s not supposed to date. All hopes of happiness fade into shattered dreams the moment she steps back on campus.

Lies and secrets are everywhere, and a betrayal cuts Rae deeply. Among her conflicts and enemies, it appears as if her father is reaching out from beyond the grave to ruin her life. With no one to trust, Rae doesn’t know where or who to turn to for help.

Has her destiny been written? Or will she become the one thing she hates the most-- her father’s prodigy.

BIO of W.J. MAY:
Wanita May grew up in the fruit belt of Ontario - St.Catharines. With a crazy-happy childhood, she has always had a vivid imagination and way too much energy. The youngest of six -- four older brothers, and a sister -- taught her at a young age to be competitive in all aspects of life.
At sixteen, she began competing in athletics (track and field) and before she turned seventeen, she was representing Canada in high jump. She continued to compete, breaking Canada's JR High Jump record (1.92m - 6' 3 1/2" for those metric-ly challenged). She attented University of Toronto, and Kansas State University - winning CIAU's and becoming All-American 6x - NCAA Indoors Runner Up + more.
But you're not interested in her athletic career - unless of course you're curious to know she stands 1.70m (5'7") and has jumped 20cm over her head on more than one occasion. She's represented Canada at the World Championships, World Jrs., won Francophone Games, and loved every minute of every competition. From the grueling workouts, the crazy weights she lifted on her back, the days she thought her lungs were going to spit out of her mouth for lack of oxygen, the traveling around the world and the opportunity to read - her favorite past time.
Life continued with her husband (a distance runner from Liverpool, UK, who she met at KSU) and then their first, then second and finally third child. Their house became full of more imagination and stories. Wanita and her husband run an online business, dealing in antiques and collectables - particularly jewelry and porcelain
After her father passed away in 2009, from a six-year battle with cancer (which she still believes he won the fight against), she began to write again. A passion she'd loved for years, but realized life was too short to keep putting it off.
Her first book, Rae of Hope - from the Chronicles of Kerrigan, published by Mitchell Morris Publishing debuted Oct 2011. Dark Nebula is available December 15th, 2012.
She is represented by Dawn Dowdle of Blue Ridge Literary Agency. Wanita is a writer of Young Adult, Fantasy Fiction and where ever else her little muses take her.
Twitter: @wanitajump
Book Trailers:

For those who have yet to dive into Rae of Hope, it will be free on Amazon on October 15th. FREE!! This was such a fun read, one of those books that you sneak in your bag just in case you happen to get an extra five minutes to escape back into its pages. Here is the link: 

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

It's a Small World with the Internet

I am always so amazed at how the Internet can make such a big world seem so small.

This week I happen to be chatting in my Children's Authors and Illustrators group on Facebook. Halfway through the chat, the illustrator, Lisa Wallace, and I both realized that she illustrated one of my son's favorite sticker books. I explained to her how that sticker book has saved us many times at restaurants, outings and trips. She seemed genuinely excited to find out how much George enjoys his sticker book.

Years ago-and not that many, really-I would have never just stumbled upon an illustrator. I would have had to mail a letter to her to show our appreciation of her work. And we may have heard back, probably weeks later.

With Skype, authors and illustrators can visit book clubs, libraries, schools, and more without really having to go anywhere. I do enjoy an in-person visit, especially writing for excited children, but it's beyond nice to have the option.

Who knows who I will stumble upon next week...

Below is George with his sticker book (the picture I sent to Lisa Wallace), and a link to her sticker page on Facebook.

Monday, September 24, 2012

An Interview with Simon Rose

This week I interviewed children's book author, Simon Rose. Read on to find out about this interesting author. 


  1. A bit about yourself.

My first novel for middle grade readers, The Alchemist’s Portrait, was published in 2003 followed by The Sorcerer’s Letterbox in 2004, The Clone Conspiracy in 2005, The Emerald Curse in 2006, The Heretic’s Tomb in 2007, The Doomsday Mask in 2009 and The Time Camera in 2011. I’m also a contributing author to The Complete Guide to Writing Science Fiction Volume One, have written many non-fiction books for younger readers with Weigl Educational Publishers and Capstone and work as a writer for Dark Roasted Blend magazine.

I offer a wide variety of presentations, workshops and author in residence programs for schools, covering such topics as the writing process, editing and revision, where ideas come from and how writers turn them into stories, character development, historical fiction and historical research, story structure, the publishing world and more. I also offer virtual author visits by video using Skype.

I work as a creative writing instructor for students throughout the year and at summer camps each July and August, am an instructor for adults with the University of Calgary and Mount Royal University and offer a variety of online workshops for both children and adults.

I’m a regular presenter at conferences and festivals, and served as a juror for the Governor General’s Award for Children’s Literature, the Saskatchewan Book Awards, the Parsec Awards and the Sunburst Award. I’m the founder of Children’s Authors and Illustrators on Facebook and served as the Assistant Regional Advisor for SCBWI Western Canada.

I offer a number of services for writers, including manuscript evaluation, editing, writing workshops and coaching, plus copywriting services for the business community. Full details can be found at You may also visit my blog at, my channel on YouTube, follow me on Twitter or become a fan on Facebook.

  1. Published Works.

The Alchemist’s Portrait ISBN 1896580297

Published by Tradewind Books, Vancouver BC, May 2003

Novel Children/YA

The Sorcerer’s Letterbox ISBN 1896580521

Published by Tradewind Books, Vancouver BC, April 2004

Novel Children/YA

The Clone Conspiracy ISBN 1896580807

Published by Tradewind Books, Vancouver BC, June 2005

Novel Children/YA

The Emerald Curse ISBN 1896580904

Published by Tradewind Books, Vancouver BC, April 2006

Novel Children/YA

The Heretic’s Tomb ISBN 1896580920

Published by Tradewind Books, Vancouver BC, October 2007

Novel Children/YA

The Complete Guide to Writing Science Fiction Part One (Contributor)
ISBN 1896944396

Published by Dragon Moon Press, Calgary, Alberta, September 2007

Fiction Anthology Adult

The Doomsday Mask ISBN 1896580197
Published by Tradewind Books, Vancouver BC, June 2009

Novel Children/YA

The Time Camera ISBN 1896580098

Published by Tradewind Books, Vancouver BC, 2011

Novel Children/YA

Amazing Animals – Belugas ISBN 9781553886747 
Published by Weigl Educational Publishers, Calgary AB, 2010
Children Non-fiction

Canadian Icons – Loonies ISBN 9781770715790 
Published by Weigl Educational Publishers, Calgary AB, 2010
Children Non-fiction

Remarkable People – Nelson Mandela ISBN 9781616901721 
Published by Weigl Educational Publishers, Calgary AB, 2010
Children Non-fiction

Canadian Icons – Canada’s Olympic Torch ISBN 9781770715806 
Published by Weigl Educational Publishers, Calgary AB, 2010
Children Non-fiction
Remarkable People – Aung San Suu Kyi ISBN 978-1616908331
Published by Weigl Educational Publishers, Calgary AB, 2011
Children Non-fiction

Meteors ISBN 978-1616906344
Published by Weigl Educational Publishers, Calgary AB, 2011
Children Non-fiction

Sources of Light ISBN 978-1616908362
Published by Weigl Educational Publishers, Calgary AB, 2011
Children Non-fiction

What is Light? ISBN 978-1616908386
Published by Weigl Educational Publishers, Calgary AB, 2011
Children Non-fiction

Sea Urchins ISBN 978-1616906917
Published by Weigl Educational Publishers, Calgary AB, 2011
Children Non-fiction

Colosseum ISBN 978-1619132498
Published by Weigl Educational Publishers, Calgary AB, 2012
Children Non-fiction

Army ISBN 978-1619132917
Published by Weigl Educational Publishers, Calgary AB, 2012
Children Non-fiction

Navy ISBN 978-1619132931
Published by Weigl Educational Publishers, Calgary AB, 2012
Children Non-fiction

Air Force ISBN 978-1619132924
Published by Weigl Educational Publishers, Calgary AB, 2012
Children Non-fiction

Marine Corps ISBN 978-1619132948
Published by Weigl Educational Publishers, Calgary AB, 2012
Children Non-fiction

Coast Guard ISBN 978-1619136304
Published by Weigl Educational Publishers, Calgary AB, 2012
Children Non-fiction

CN Tower ISBN 978-1770714830
Published by Weigl Educational Publishers, Calgary AB, 2012
Children Non-fiction

Parliament Hill  ISBN 978-1770714823
Published by Weigl Educational Publishers, Calgary AB, 2012
Children Non-fiction

Confederation Bridge ISBN 978-1770714847
Published by Weigl Educational Publishers, Calgary AB, 2012
Children Non-fiction

The Split History of World War II: A Perspectives Flip Book
ISBN 978-0756545697
Published by Compass Point Books, 2012
Children Non-fiction

  1. Latest Project.

As of the fall of 2012, I’m working on a number of non-fiction projects, doing quite a lot of teaching and workshops, but also completing a fantasy novel for middle grade readers that will be published in 2013.

  1. This business has so many ups and downs. Why pursue it?

I enjoy writing and, so far at least, have had no shortage of new ideas for stories. I also like connecting with readers who’ve enjoyed the books and with other authors. As a professional writer, you have to expand your horizons, write in a number of different fields and engage in marketing and promotion. I write a lot of non-fiction books, do a lot of coaching, online workshops, classes for children and adults, as well as visit schools and summer camps. I also offer writing services for a wide range of industries and market segments and offer a variety of copywriting services including website content, blogs and newsletters, social media including Facebook and Twitter, brochures, direct mail, sales letters, press releases, newspaper and magazine advertising. It certainly does have ups and downs, but in many ways so does everyday life.

  1. Why do you write for children?

The best thing about writing for children is that it allows me to write about the kinds of things that used to fascinate me when I was young. I often think I write for the boy I was aged about nine or ten years old. For most of us, it’s a lost, magical time before we grew up. Even if we have children of our own, it’s difficult to remember just how things felt when we were young. And of course, the stories can be very imaginative if they’re for children, which makes writing them so much fun.

  1. Most difficult project to date? What made it so difficult?

I’m not sure really, but the first novel was a challenge, perhaps only because it was the first one. There was a lot of editing and revision, as you’d expect, but it was all worth it in the end. Some of the non-fiction books involved a lot of research too, but you do learn a lot writing them, especially about topics that you’re initially unfamiliar with. However, they’re still a lot of fun to write.

  1. What authors have inspired you?

I can’t think of any in particular, although I’ve always enjoyed the science fiction and fantasy genre. I’ve usually liked books for the story rather than the author, the same way that I like a movie for the story rather than the actors. As we all know, even your favourite actors don’t always appear in quality movies, perhaps as a result of a poor script or an inadequate supporting cast. For me, it’s the same with books. I may have enjoyed a novel, but then have been disappointed with something else by the same author. I was also initially inspired by authors who did more than just write books and conducted extensive marketing and promotion, offered workshops for schools, services to writers and so on.

  1. Advice for less seasoned writers.

Writing is in some ways the easy part. It can be a very long process not only to write a book, but also to get it published. A book is a marathon measured in years rather than weeks or months. Don’t be afraid to revise and revise over and over again. Most authors go through many revisions before their work reaches its final format. Remember too that your book will never be to everyone’s taste, so don’t be discouraged. A firm belief in your own success is often what’s necessary. After all, if you don’t believe in your book, how can you expect other people to?

Read as much as you can and write as often as you can. Keep an ideas file, even if it’s only a name, title, sentence or an entire outline for a novel. You never know when you might get another piece of the puzzle, perhaps years later.   You also mustn’t forget the marketing. You may produce the greatest book ever written. However, no one else is going to see it if your book doesn’t become known to potential readers. Be visible as an author. Do as many readings, signings and personal appearances as you can. Get your name out there and hopefully the rest will follow. Especially for newly published authors, books don’t sell themselves and need a lot of help.

  1. Anything that you’d like to add.

In addition to all the books, I offer services for writers including coachingmanuscript editing and evaluation, plus online workshops for children and for adults.

A professional writing coach is someone with whom you can consult, ask questions and receive constructive feedback. They act as a guide as you build your career as a professional writer. A coach can help you conquer a stumbling block, regain momentum or make a start on a new project. In my program, you decide what you want to work on during a personalized, one on one relationship. I can be your coach for just one month or we can establish a month-to-month arrangement.

The online workshops are designed to help you progress as a writer. Through a series of email assignments, we explore where ideas come from and how to turn them into stories, basic story structure, plot development, creating characters, developing dialogue and more to help develop writing ability.

  1. How can readers and writers contact you?

Thank you for stopping by, Simon! Best wishes with your writing endeavors!

Friday, September 7, 2012

The Liebster Blog Award

The Liebster Blog Award is given to upcoming bloggers who have less than 200 followers. Thank you Jennifer for tagging me. Please visit Jennifer's blog Jennifer Young, Children's Writer

The Rules: 1. Each person must post 11 things about themselves. 2. Answer the questions the tagger has set for you and create eleven questions for the people you've tagged. 3. Choose eleven people and link them in your post. 4. Go to their page and tell them. 5. Remember no tag backs!

11 Things You Were Dying to Know About Me

1.  Definitely Hawaii
2.  I have temporarily put away my purses for a diaper bag. As far as how many items, it feels like one of those bottomless magician's bags, and every single item is absolutely necessary.
3.  I would take a calculus class that my pre-calculus teacher talked me out of taking because she thought I wouldn't do well.
4.  I don't really like absolutes, so I would say anything is possible.
5.  Chocolate cake with thick chocolate icing...Mmmmmmm
6.  Coffee 
7.  Fall and all of its changing leaves, cool weather, upcoming holidays and festivals
8.  Oh geeze. That's a hard one. It's hard to define a date as one when you're being driven around by his mom, but I guess it counts?!?! I would probably say maybe a soccer game. Gosh, I feel really old right now.
9.  That's the hardest question yet! Ummm...maybe the 20s. Flapper times sounded pretty fun. 
10.  Romantic Sci-fi
11.  What do I not put on my plate? That would be a shorter list. I pile on turkey, broccoli and cheese casserole, homemade rolls, green bean casserole, cranberry salad, and mashed potatoes and gravy

  Questions from Jennifer for me:
 1) What state would you like to live in other than where you live now?
2) How many items do you carry in your purse or wallet? Are they all necessary?
3) If you could retake or take any class back in high school or college what would it be?
4) Do you believe in Aliens?
5) What is your most favorite dessert?
6) Coffee or tea?
7) Fall or Spring?
8) Do you remember your first date? Where did you go?
9) If you could live in the past what year/decade/century would you pick?
10) Favorite type of movie?
11) On Thanksgiving what do you put on your plate?

Questions for People I Tag: I Tagged 5 People Instead of 11

1.   What's the most recent book you've read?
2.  What's a really embarrassing thing that has happened to you?
3.  What would you choose for your last meal?
4.  Which song do you secretly rock out to and have absolutely no idea why? 
5.  What is something other people do that irritates you like no other? 
6.  What is something you do that irritates other people like no other?
7.  What is your dream vacation?
8.  What is something that you don't know a lot about but would like to?
9.  Which perfume or cologne makes you weak in the knees?
10.  Dogs or cats?
11.  Do you believe in soulmates? 

People I Tagged:

1.  T.E. Time