Author Interview – Lord & Lady Doherty authors of What Squirrels Do Series of Picture Books

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1) Tell us about yourself- where are you from? What do you like to write?

We are Lord and Lady Doherty and live in the UK. We have a beautiful baby daughter called Hazel, who is the inspiration and muse for the pen-name Hazel Nutt. She takes up most of our time during the day and by night we write! At the moment, we are happy creating childrens’ picture books.

Who knows what the future holds, we will probably write a few non fiction books in our own names, however we are having another baby in April, so not a lot will be written in the next 6 months or so!

2) What prompted you to start writing?

Both of us have written short stories and poetry from an early age, however in the last few years we have had a writing hiatus. We have written numerous articles, reports and books as ghostwriters, but nothing resembling fiction.

When Hazel was born it was like a creative bolt of lightening and we have been getting inspiration and ideas left, right and center. We have so many future picture books up our sleeves, if we are successful in promoting our first set of picture books.

3) What types of books do you like to read? Who are your favorite authors?

We mainly like to read thrillers and murder mysteries. Our favorite thriller writer is Peter James. We are really into the Agatha Raisin murder mysteries set in the Cotswolds. Agatha Raisin is like a comedic drunk version of Miss Marple! We have read the entire series by M C Beaton and we pounce on the new releases when they come out!

4) What inspires you to write?

That one is easy – our daughter Hazel. She makes us laugh everyday and is is just the perfect muse.

5) What made you self-publish? Would you recommend that to other aspiring authors?

Well we wanted to do something special for our daughter’s second birthday, so we decided to have the publish date of the “What Squirrels Do” trilogy as her birthday

Although the name Hazel Nutt is a pen-name, for all intents and purposes these books have been created for our daughter, as a sort of legacy for her and her future family. We wanted to retain control over these books and have a go ourselves at self-publishing.

We think that the traditional route of publishing of finding a publisher is a very time consuming task and you seem to have to wait a long time to get anything published, even when the manuscript is finished and ready to go.

Self publishing gives you complete control. It is by no means the easy route, as it is difficult to create a professional looking manuscript that looks good printed and marketing it yourself is no mean feat either, but hopefully it will all be worth it.

Make no mistake, It is hard work whatever publishing route you take – maybe more so with the self-publishing route, as you are on your own.

6) What did you find to be the most difficult part of the writing process? Easiest?

One of the most difficult parts of the writing process is the editing – deciding what stays and what goes. In addition to that putting it together in a format that looks good in print and on Kindle is very hard. We ended having to outsource the making it look good in Kindle part.

The easiest part is coming up with ideas, because Hazel is so curious and scrumptious it is impossible not to!

7) Tell us about your books. Where can our readers find it?

The books: What Squirrels Do When You Are Not Looking, What Squirrels Do: The Squirrel Olympics and What Squirrels Do: Just For Fun are full of beautiful illustrations and ideas that could just be true. Who really know what squirrels get up to while people are looking the other way?

What Squirrels Do When You Are Not Looking – this book answers some of life’s mysteries like why car alarms go off in the middle of the night and why shopping trolleys can be found deep in the wood – squirrels have something to do with the answers.

What Squirrels Do: The Squirrel Olympics – Human Olympics take place every four years, but squirrels get up to all sorts of fun events like squirrel bunjee jumping or limbo dancing all year around when everyone’s backs are turned.

What Squirrels Do: Just For Fun – A look at the everyday antics of squirrels and what they might do to keep themselves entertained, like swinging on the ivy like Tarzan, or pulling faces at humans behind their backs.

The books encourage a love of nature. They also help develop creativity and little imaginations, as children can have fun thinking of additional antics that squirrels (or other animals) could get up to when no-one is there to see.

You can find these books on Amazon as paperbacks and Kindle ebooks.

What Squirrels Do When You Are Not Looking
Amazon.com:http://www.amazon.com/What-Squirrels-When-Youre-Looking/dp/1478363800/
Kindle (Amazon.com): http://www.amazon.com/What-Squirrels-Youre-Looking-ebook/dp/B00BDBVKRW/

What Squirrels Do: The Squirrel Olympics
Amazon.com:http://www.amazon.com/What-Squirrels-Do-Squirrel-Childrens/dp/1482354195/
Kindle (Amazon.com): http://www.amazon.com/What-Squirrels-Do-Childrens-ebook/dp/B00BDZYOCG/

What Squirrels Do: Just for Fun
Amazon.com:http://www.amazon.com/What-Squirrels-Do-Rhyming-Childrens/dp/1482354349/
Kindle (Amazon.com): http://www.amazon.com/What-Squirrels-Do-Childrens-ebook/dp/B00BDZYR2S/

8) Who is your favorite character in your books? Why?

Well Hazel Nutt is the both the writer and narrator of these books and her picture appears at least once in each of the books, so she is our favorite character. Why? Because it’s Hazel!

9) Do you have a website? Blog? Twitter? Facebook?
Author Website: http://www.HazelNutt.com

Book Website: http://www.WhatSquirrelsDo.com

Social Media Links:

Twitter: https://twitter.com/1HazelNutt

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/BabyBloggerHazelNutt

Google+: https://plus.google.com/u/0/105971791020252696308/

Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/Hazel-Nutt/e/B008JI05GO/

Goodreads: http://www.goodreads.com/HazelNutt

Get a Squirrel Mask to catch those squirrels in the act yourself here:

http://whatsquirrelsdo.com/activity-pack

Win Signed Copies of The What Squirrels Do Trilogy here:

http://whatsquirrelsdo.com/whatsquirrelsdogiveaway

Children’s Health

This week I wanted to mix it up. I typically interview kid lit authors and review children’s and young adult books but I was inspired by a simple ad this week.

It is a village setting in India where a man is walking on his hands. Soon the entire village starts to follow him as he continues his “walk” towards the temple. He takes a break by resting his feet on a tree-branch, still upside down. He only straightens up when he reaches the temple. An outsider asks what this was all about. The answer, “This is his only child that survived past five years of age and today is his birthday.”

It was an ad for soap. I didn’t know that the simple act of not washing one’s hands can lead to infant death. We in the developed countries don’t know how fortunate we are until something like this reminds us of all the blessings we have. We have clean water,  soap and even (organic!) food.

I realize I am fortunate but that somehow doesn’t seem enough. I feel like I should be doing something, what? I have no clue. My excuse has been that I give to charity X but is that enough? Should corruption or administrative expenses of these charities (like red cross) be my excuse? I am sure I am not the only one that thinks about this, so drop me a line. Tell me what you do? What is enough? How do you find peace with your decision?

Here’s the ad (hit the image to play the ad)

Book Review: Savannah’s Story – Jodi Stone

This is a story about Savannah, the youngest of three sisters. All she wants to do is play with her sisters and her dollhouse. She also does not want to get bored but no one wants to play with her. She makes a wish that comes true!

What child doesn’t want to live in her own imagination and doesn’t hope that her dolls come to life? This is just such a book that sparks the imagination. This is a great book for the younger readers as well as a great book to read to your children. The illustrations add to the story and help the reader to follow along.

The story itself rhymes and would be fun to read out loud. I actually think this would encourage a first time reader to read out the words just to see (rather hear) how they flow. I would say that since this is a book with dolls, dollhouses and a lot of pink it might appeal more to girls. I however am a firm believer that liking pink or dolls is not just for girls but not everyone feels the same way. This book gets four and a half out of five stars from me.

Author Interview – Roberta Capizzi

Today I want to share with you my interview with Roberta Capizzi, the author of “The Melody in our Heart”.

1) Tell us about yourself- where are you from? What do you like to write?
Well, I was born and still live in Italy, although I’ve wanted to move out for a while. I did live for a few months in Ireland, in 2003 but then I’ve had to come home for some family problems and I haven’t been able to leave since, although I’m still planning on moving out of the country some time in the near future. I like writing romance. I tried to write a chick-lit novella and it was fun, but I prefer romance – happy ending and all.

2) What prompted you to start writing?
Well, I’ve always been an avid reader and I’ve always loved losing myself in other people’s lives and worlds. When I saw that reality wasn’t just as fun, I decided to write my own. And also because I wanted to write stories that I wanted to read and nobody had written so far.

3) What types of books do you like to read? Who are your favorite authors?
I like reading romance (it comes as a surprise, doesn’t it?), but I also like chick-lit. I’ve recently discovered a few fantasy authors I like, although fantasy and paranormal are not really my favorite genre and I’ll only be reading stories with a romance in it anyway 🙂 My favorite authors are Rosamunde Pilcher, Maeve Binchy and Nicholas Sparks. I also like Sophie Kinsella and Ali McNamara in the chick-lit genre.

4) What inspires you to write?
Anything, really. I love daydreaming. I’m probably THE biggest daydreamer in the world. I hear line in a song, I see an ad on TV or a person in a mall and I start fantasizing in my mind, creating a story. I also get inspiration from my dreams – I dream a lot and when I do remember them in the morning, I write down some notes if the dream was interesting enough to become a novel.

5) What made you self-publish? Would you recommend that to other aspiring authors?
Well, I obviously tried the traditional route first, but I got quite frustrated when I got rejections – I think every writer knows the feeling and how much it hurt. I was on the verge of giving up, because I thought my writing wasn’t good enough and I wasn’t meant to be a writer; but then I discovered the indie world, thanks to a self-published novel I read and loved and when I understood that I wasn’t the only one who didn’t get a contract but had a story to tell, and that it was actually easy enough to do it, I jumped at the chance and decided to self-publish.

6) What did you find to be the most difficult part of the writing process? Easiest?
Well, the most difficult part for me is letting go of my characters and story, I really find it hard to write “The End”. If I had to listen to what I call “the writing bug” inside my head, my novels would probably be a million words long. Editing and cutting are also hard tasks.
The easiest part? Well, writing down all the stories in my mind! That’s extremely easy for me, and fun of course.

7) Tell us about your book. Where can our readers find it?
My debut novel is a contemporary romance, but the main theme (apart from the love story, of course) is the importance of friendship. In the story, Valerie and Ryan have been best friends since their adolescence in Ireland, but after they move to Boston to go to college, things gradually change all around them, only their friendship remains unchanged and gets them through the tough times. When Ryan turns into an international Jazz star, Valerie fears their friendship will fade because of his success and of her long shifts as a surgeon, but no matter how hectic their lives become, their friendship keeps growing stronger. Until Ryan has a bad car accident and is brought into the ER, and Valerie fears she will lose him
forever. I won’t tell you how it ends though 🙂
It is currently available on Amazon, as paperback and ebook, as well as on Createspace.

8) Who is your favorite character in your book? Why?
Ooh, tough question. I can’t really pick a favorite character, because they’re all my babies! It’s like asking a mother who’s her favorite child. Each character has something special, and they’re all dear to me in their own special way. Obviously I always end up falling in love with the male characters I create, but I guess that’s normal, isn’t it? Or maybe not…

9) How can the readers contact you?
I do. I have a blog where I promote my writing, but I also try to help other indie authors: http://robertasdreamworld.wordpress.com

You can also find me on Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/RobertasDreamworld
On Twitter: @Sligoroo

And on Goodreads: Roberta Capizzi
Please do stop by and get in touch with me! I love to connect with other readers and authors!

Amazon Paperback

Kindle 

Book Review: A Father’s Wish – Christine Corretti

King Big Bear is about the animals in Germany set several hundred years ago. The kind and benevolent king of that kingdom is Big Bear. Despite having all the wealth and devotion of the animals, Big Bear isn’t happy. He discovers that having a baby animal would help him be happy and he adopts a young wolf cub. The adventure that follows is filled with a magical wizard and lots of forest animals.

Here’s what I like about the book: it has two very important messages. The first is about adoption and this is from a parent’s perspective. It portrays all the love that a parent has for the adopted child. The second is about cruelty to animals and how it is not okay in any form. I think both points are well conveyed in this classic fairy tale-esque format.

I would recommend this book for children 7-8 years of age and older since there is some death and killing involved. I would also make the same age recommendation since this does talk about the parent’s perspective towards adoption and the loneliness one can feel without a child/ cub. Overall, I would give it four stars out of five. It is a great starter book when trying to introduce adoption or animal rights to a child.

Book Review: Gifts to Our Children – Merry Mary

Gifts to our children is about just that, the gifts that we choose to give to our children. It is more about the attitudes we teach them, consciously or subconsciously. The author tries to explain her point of view through instances in her own life. It is a really interesting perspective as a lot of it is about life far away from the United States.

Mary speaks from experience but the tone of the book starts to lean towards being preachy. I find that I disagree with a few of her view points as well. However, one must recognize that parenting is such a personal choice that there really is no one size fits all.

I would say read this book with an open mind as the underlying message is beautiful. I like the concept and even if I don’t agree with everything in the book; I do find myself analyzing what I would like to pass on to my daughter. I believe that was the main purpose of the book: to make the reader realize how a child learns.

” Children learn by what they see. What you live is what you give.”

Amazon Kindle Link

Book Review: The Boots My Mother Gave Me – Brooklyn James

It has been a while since a book in this genre kept me wanting to read and not put the book down. The main character Harley is endearing as a child, she wants to be strong. She wants her father’s love and she is completely happy to forgive every abusive action of his. Her growth from a frightened child as she realizes her father’s limitations to a strong young teen is wonderful.

Harley has just one refuge, Jeremiah. Her friend since childhood and her first for a lot of things. Both characters grow with the book and the way they experience life and each other changes with time. James does a great job of telling this story. I love the fact that Harley is a strong woman that wants to make it on her own, away from the life that she once knew.

There are a few parts in the middle that seem to be stretched and the instances where she flashes back to a childhood memory is distracting. That is the only reason why this book doesn’t have the highest rating in my book.

Overall this is a great read, a tear jerker at times and has romance that melts your heart!

Amazon

Resolutions

Everyone probably has a long list of resolutions for this new year. Losing weight or even making those million dollars this year. My resolution is simpler than that and yet it is something that can not be achieved by me alone.

My resolution is to leave behind a world that the children will be safe in. I want the girls to dress however they want and not worry about their safety should they choose to wear something a little too short. I want every mother to be able to let her child play in the front yard even past sunset should she so chose. I want parents to be able to bring a toy home without the fear that the toys will cause lead poisoning. I want parents to be able to send their children to school without worrying about their safety.

I want all children to be taught how to take care of themselves; to be able to cook, clean and do their own laundry not just the girls. I want children to be oblivious of the color of their skins or their friends’ for that matter. I want toys that are not deemed gender specific after all why can’t boys play with kitchen sets and utensils and girls be able to play with trucks and fast cars? I want healthy food to be available to all the children not just the cheap fast food that everyone seems to have access to! I want children to be able to play and run around as much as they choose, alone or with their parents.

Last and definitely the least, I want to be able to see blue as a girl color as well as a boy color. Why the heck is it so difficult to get things for boys in any color other than blue? Why do girls only have to dress in pink? Who decided that girls had to live in a pink nightmare and boys can only drive blue trucks? Why don’t we get rid of all our stereotypes or else lets start a new tradition, the next time someone cuts you off don’t think that it must be an asian driver or a woman think he is driving like a man!

Holiday Season 2012

As I sit with my family on Christmas Eve, I can’t help thinking how happy and perfect everything is. Oops! Hope I didn’t jinx it! Don’t get me wrong. We have our share of money issues and don’t even get me started on family but I have so much to be grateful for.

I have a beautiful daughter, a supportive and loving husband. I even have a great relationship with my sisters and parents. I have a great job, even though it has its stressful moments. I actually love what I do. I will elaborate on that at some other time.

What is really bothering me however, is all this mindless shooting. First that theater and now an elementary school. I am sure it bothers anyone that hears about it. I really can not think of a good solution for this problem. I understand the constitution and the right to bear arms. I chose to not have guns in my house however, I grew up with them  in our house. There is just no way to guarantee that a crazy or mentally ill person will not get their hands on a gun. I mean aren’t drugs illegal?!

May be the solution is education? What if we taught every child the value of life? Moral education would help too. Just like talking to your children about drugs or smoking seems to be helping to reduce the number of smokers, I think this conversation might help more children ask for help sooner. No one can really get to the point of shooting someone overnight, right? It must have been coming on for a while.

So, as I sit with my family on Christmas Eve, I sure hope we come up with a solution that actually helps instead of blaming everything under the sun. Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays to all!