Ben Monroe has spent most of his life in Northern California, where he lives in the East Bay Area with his wife and two children. He is the author of In the Belly of the Beast and Other Tales of Cthulhu Wars, the Seething, the graphic novel Planet Apocalypse, and short stories in several anthologies.
You can find more information about him and his work at www.benmonroe.com
I write and produce picture books. I call them that because they are not necessarily for children. My slogan is ‘for kids aged between 6 & 99yrs old!” I’m interested in stimulating a dialogue between adults and children about their experience. I hope that’s what my books make the readers want to do. Talk and discuss and reflect on their own experience. I love art and literature so picture books are the perfect medium for me. Some of my books are not even ‘stories’ rather than concepts.
2. Do you draw from your English background and upbringing?
I guess I do, but almost inadvertently, so not directly. However, Spaceball uses the city of Manchester England as a theme for location and Old Trafford is mentioned. Perhaps in the way I express myself in the books. I do have another book planned which is based in London England.
3.Where did the idea for Spaceball come from?
I wanted to write an exciting book using the dynamic themes of soccer and space. I think all ideas just come from challenging your own understanding. i was reading about Einstein and gravity and i thought this might be a cool way of understanding an aspect of gravitational force, amongst other things. The book is actually about how we understand our own histories and the ‘forces’ that influence that aswell.
4. What message does the book give children?
See question 3 above. I’m interested in bringing the reader to a point where they want to consider their place in history and how their social history differs from other cultural perspectives. The whole book pivots on the expression ‘the history of everything’. The child telling the story stops to consider what that means.
5. How long did the process of writing Spaceball take?
About a month. Not long at all once I knew what I wanted to do. I let the planets guide me! The illustrations took longer but it was so much fun to do, and I wanted to create images that especially children would feel were organic, to encourage them to make their own books with collage and crayon and whatever they can get their hands on.
6.How does writing a book, short stories and writing poetry differ?
For me with picture books there’s always an idea you’re developing and revising constantly, editing while writing but also afterwards, going back to it again and again is important, checking for fluency, ‘sense’ and whether what you’ve done honours your intention. Projects can change a lot as well. The research phase is always very interesting and so much of the spontaneity of my writing happens when I’m reading around. I think it’s not so much genre but authors that have different processes. Books have personally taken me longer to produce though. A short story can be 500words. I don’t write much poetry but when I do it’s almost like a wave of energy, so it’s quite quick for me. Whether it’s any ‘good’ is another matter!
7.Where do you get ideas from?
From Walmart. 🙂 They have them on special right now. Just kidding. I think you can train your mind to be receptive. Ideas are everywhere I think, it’s not difficult for me. I have a to-do list on my wall of the next ten picture books I want to do, but there are loads of ideas on scraps and memos in various places. I think you have to have a type of curiosity that isn’t easily satisfied if that makes sense, and a willingness to take a ‘fact’ and explore what might have been or what another perspective might bring. I think the imagination is a way of connecting and exploring one’s understanding and associations from different perspectives and perhaps extending that understanding. I have ideas that are years old and I like to leave them in my head for a while, pickling and marinating! I think you can tell I like cooking 🙂
8.Do you have a project(s) in progress?
Yes I think I answered this in question 7 above. More specifically I’m just completing a picture book now called ‘What’s your favourite colour’ illustrated by Stella Avolio. Another project has been planned and will start soon called ‘Farewell’ with a different illustrator and I have a book I really want to do, the London-based one I referred to above, but I want to both write and illustrate that myself.
9.What is your view on reading and writing for children?
Reading for children is very important. I was read to as a child and I loved the experience. I haven’t done an audio book yet but I’d love to get round to it. It’s great to have a book animated by real voices.
As I said (if I understand your question) I don’t write for children necessarily, but more for the social interaction between generations, to generate discussion between adults and children.
10.Where can readers find you and your books?
All my books are online. Google Matthew Bennett Young and you will see!
As many of you know I am in the midst of editing and revising two projects. Yes, I’m mad! The first is the prequel to my fantasy series, Malgraf’s Dawning. It is currently being beta-read and revisions are coming back to me chapter by chapter. The other is a western romance manuscript, Willow Tree Tears, that until recently, had languished in my ‘to do’ folder for quite some time.
As authors and writers, we have to refine, revise and rewrite our manuscripts to ensure they are ready to submit. As we all know though, some will slip through the cracks – we have all read books and noticed slip-ups in every book we read. So let’s look at the editing process:
Editing encompasses several elements in order to achieve a well-polished manuscript for submission. Editing includes among other things, continuity, grammar, spelling, character development, revisions to scenes etc. the list is long and sometimes overwhelming.
Where should you start?
Instead of plunging directly back into a first draft, let it sit for a while. Start another project, take a rest, whatever you need to tear yourself away from the world and the characters you created. Ideally, leave it for three to six months, depending on any deadlines you have, of course. This will allow you to ‘see; it with fresh eyes.
When you go back to re-read there will be new insights. Rather than overwhelming yourself with trying to ‘correct’ all the editing elements mentioned above, concentrate on one item at a time.
Limit each read through to a specific task.
When you have completed these tasks let either trusted friends, or members of your local writing group read it. Take note of their suggestions and correct any errors they may find. Remember, no matter how many times you or your beta readers go through a manuscript, there will always be a word missed, mis-spelt, or a continuity slip up. Once this is done it is time to consider handing over the manuscript to a professional. A professional editor is a good investment, if you can afford one. A badly edited book reflects on you the author and no-one else.
Here are a couple of tricks that can help you edit more effectively:
Read the book from back to front page by page. This stops your brain putting in words that are not there.
Read it out aloud to yourself or an understanding friend. A missed word is very obvious with this technique.
Go through the manuscript correcting one area at a time, instead of everything, which can become overwhelming. Such as spelling, or continuity.
When editing there may be sentences, or even whole paragraphs, that you know need to be revised, or even omitted from the manuscript to help with the flow of the story line, or scene. Deleting these can be hard. There are different opinions on what to do with these revisions, but I think they should be saved in a separate document until you are absolutely sure you do want to delete them and even then you may keep them as a record of how the scene developed. A writer’s jetsam so to speak. These ejected words from our narratives may dwell in our hard drives or document folders for months, sometimes years. They may even be useful if at some point in the future you decide to use them in a sequel!
Without correcting and improving, our creations will not be polished and worthy of reading and that is the one thing we all want – our work to be read and enjoyed.
We have all seen, read or subscribed to another author’s newsletter in one form or another. When making the decision to create our own there are a few decisions to make first.
Firstly, why do you want to produce a newsletter?
How often will you publish it?
What content will you share?
And probably most importantly – do you have the time for it?
Stick to a Schedule
Newsletters take time to create and format, so decide on a schedule that works for you and your other commitments, whether that is writing time or your personal life. Don’t make it a too frequent chore – you will quickly discard it altogether. (Or run out of content, which is disastrous). Once you have a workable schedule – stick to it! A newsletter a week is a great deal of work, so I would suggest once a month. Make sure you are not mailing out your newsletter too frequently, or it will become a chore. I send mine monthly (most of the time!) If you have a specific promotion, then you can send ‘special’ newsletters.
Create a Catchy Titleand Imageryto Make Your Newsletter Unique
To attract attention, decide on a unique and personalized title. Then create a banner or typeface that will catch your reader’s eye. Once you have it – stay with it. The more often it is seen the more people will realize this is your newsletter and become familiar with it.
Go for Quality
Always proofread and edit
Add relevant images when necessary
Make It Easy to Read
Using bullet points
Highlight (bold or italicize) vital information
Use short sentences and paragraphs
Every now and then, offer a reward to your current and potential subscribers. The prize need not be worth a fortune but relevant to your book’s topic or theme (or somehow related to the story).
What do you put in an author newsletter?
When it came to my author newsletter, I asked my subscribers what they wanted to hear from me. I also looked at other newsletters for ideas. It is a great way to formulate how you want your newsletter to look and to give you ideas on your content and frequency of transmitting it.
Tip: You can pre-write your newsletter and schedule it. I find this gives me the ability to drop content into the draft throughout the month, so I don’t forget something.
My newsletter is Musings from Mandy Eve-Barnett – to distinguish each newsletter I add the month and a sub-title – Sneek Peeks & Glimpses.
Here is a list of possible content you can include: (it is by no means all-inclusive though).
Personal anecdotes and photos of your everyday life. You can include your writing space.
Behind the scenes peeks – what you are currently writing, ideas formulating etc.
Exclusive content like a cover reveal or a sneak peek at your next title
Excerpts from upcoming books and free bonus chapters from past books.
Launch dates of your new book
Events you are attending, whether in person or virtually.
Your writing processes.
Report writing progress on novels.
Request feedback on a current manuscript/project
Interviews you have participated in with links
Spotlights/interviews of guest authors
What you are reading
Your book reviews
Include book research and photos.
Tell what sparked book locations, plots, or characters.
Interview an author in your genre.
Recount your experiences at book events.
Recount personal experiences that appeared in a book in some form.
Include a photo of your writing space.
Share writing milestones: signing an agent, book contracts, book releases, book awards.
Display book trailers.
Hold character interviews
Offer installments of short stories
Create a contest.
Remember the goal of any newsletter is to promote, so make sure to include:
Your author bio Insert links to blog, website, Amazon and other sales sites and your Goodreads author page, and reviews.
Tip: Even unpublished authors can create an author newsletter. The sooner you start to grow your subscription list, the bigger your platform will be when you have something to sell.
A coloring book designed to cultivate imagination, inspire, build confidence and foster a positive-self image by Takiyah Smith
Colourful and Creative: An Empowering Coloring Book Series for Boys and Girls
This carefully crafted coloring book series was designed to cultivate imagination, inspire, build confidence and foster a positive-self image.
This revolutionary book teaches children to love the skin they’re in. I Love ME! Colorful and Creative. A boy or girl can be a leader, quirky, brainy, brilliant, sporty, inventive, entrepreneurial, musical, artsy, strong, or all of the above. Being a child is limitless and knows no bounds. Children color outside of the lines, should they see fit. This book reinforces the notion, that children can be and do whatever they choose.
Words are Powerful.
Every coloring page includes an “I am”, affirmation statement or words of empowerment. There are no drawings on the back so that children can have a space to create and dream. The back sides of each coloring page feature words of influence and elevation, such as, “Well-read and well-versed. A winning combination. Now that’s Powerful. or A boy or girl is happy and confident.
Imagery is Influential.
Every single image was crafted with care and intention. This book highlights hundreds of well-thought-out images with a focused theme for each page such as: entrepreneurship, traveler, music, science, art, math, sports, travel, prince, etc. Some of the beautifully crafted imagery includes: camping scenes, space ship, doctor, astronaut, scientist, microscope, beakers, math problems, musical instruments, art supplies, King, gymnast, rock climber, golfer, skateboarder, soccer player, basketball, runner, nature, rainbow, super hero’s, dogs, cats, lizard, snake, turtle, bunny, deer, birds, candy, flowers, pyramids, books, cars, hearts, music notes, stars, crowns, and so much more.
I Love ME! Colorful and Creative coloring book, is strength and talent at its finest.
Positive. Educational. Fun.
An amazing gift any boy, girl, AND parent are sure to love.
Takiyah Smith is a native San Franciscan. She studied business and merchandise product development at The Fashion Institute of Design and Merchandising (commonly known as FIDM). Girl power and women empowerment has long since been a passion for Takiyah.
There are approximately 10 million moms parenting alone, according to the Census Bureau. Today 1 in 4 children under the age of 18 are being raised without a father.
Parenting information is available in a ton of different locations from books, blogs, websites, articles, YouTube videos, workshops, and conferences to name a few. But, what single mom really has time for that? It’s on the job training time! Takiyah felt it would be so much easier if women could find information, community and inspiration all in one trusted location. That’s when Takiyah founded, Single Mom and the City, an exclusive resource for single moms.
Takiyah is grateful for the knowledge that has been imparted through thousands of hours of research and reading, family and friends, colleagues and strangers alike, that have been ever so gracious to share their parenting secrets, life experiences and wisdom. Takiyah wants to share this information with the world.
To request additional review copies or an interview with Takiyah Smith, please contact Mickey Mikkelson at Creative Edge Publicity: firstname.lastname@example.org / 403.464.6925. We look forward to the coverage!