Friday, May 31, 2013

Author Interview with Jewel Kats



Once a teen runaway, Jewel Kats is now a two-time Mom’s Choice Award winner. For six years, Jewel penned a syndicated teen advice column for Scripps Howard News Service (USA) and TorStar Syndication Service (Canada). She's won $20,000 in scholarships from Global Television Network, and women's book publisher: Harlequin Enterprises. Jewel also interned in the TV studio of Entertainment Tonight Canada. Her books have been featured in Ability Magazine (USA) twice. She’s authored seven books—five are about disabilities. Jewel is the writer, and real-life character behind “DitzAbled Princess”—a popular reality-series comic strip.
 
Do your characters ever want to take over the story?
“DitzAbled Princess” is a reality-series comic strip diary inspired by events in my life. Sometimes, the past is referred to. Other times, it’s the present-day now. However, all of the comic strip “cast” members are actual human beings who’ve crossed paths with me. The “stars” of this strip are my family members. Naturally, some “characters” have a louder presence on the page just as they do in real life. However, since it’s my first-person account, the character “Jewel” always steals centre stage to deliver the punch line or act as the butt of the joke. Otherwise, it would become someone else’s diary!

What is your favourite food?
I absolutely love good ol’ shepherd’s pie. Yum, yum!

Are you a morning person or a night owl?
Neither! You’ll catch my brain fire up during the afternoon.

Where do you dream of travelling to and why?
You may be shocked by this, but I’ve never had a “Disney” destination experience. It’s about time that I partied with Minnie and Mickey Mouse! According to hearsay, “Disney” amusement park rides are unique in that they are totally accessible. Yay! 

Do distant places feature in your books?
I prefer to write what I know. In other words…“DitzAbled Princess” and I, share the same passport.
In regards to my children’s books, I do create Kingdoms for my characters.

Do you listen to music while writing?
I don’t listen to music while I write. However, I’ll pump myself up with music before a public relations interview. Usually, rock. It helps me feel like a powerful WO-MAN.  

Could you tell us a bit about your latest release?
“DitzAbled Princess: A Comical Diary Inspired by Real Life” is a must-have for comic book enthusiasts. Within its color-popping pages, you’ll find a collection “DitzAbled Princess” webcomic strips laid out in a graphic novel format. This popular reality-series chronicles the daily experiences of a 30-something zany, career-crazed woman with disabilities. No hurdle, person or health issue will prevent her from attending the next cosmetics sale!  

“DitzAbled Princess”--the webcomic--is updated with new episodes every Wednesday and Sunday at: http://tapastic.com/series/316.   

What have you learned about writing and publishing since you first started?
Publishing is a busy business that keeps you on your toes. You’re working before a book is written. You’re working while it’s in production. You’re promoting once the book is out in print. Authorhood is not all fun, and glam-fueled games.

Is there anything you would do differently?
I can’t turn back the hands of time, but I secretly wish I’d discovered that I wanted to become a writer before hitting my 20s. I totally envy people who’ve known their trade since childhood!

Anything you would say to those just starting out in the craft?
Write what’s in your heart. Don’t select topics based on the promise they’ll make you a lot of money. Enjoy the process of creating something, and the universe will help you out.

What are three words that describe you?                                                    
  1. Fun-loving.
  2. Optimistic.
  3. Persistent.
What's your favourite book or who is your favourite writer?
My all-time favorite comic book series is: “Betty and Veronica Double Digests” by Archie Comics.

Blurb of your latest release or coming soon book
Jewel at 33 is a Princess in her own right.
She's a fun-loving, demanding Diva who loves to shop as much she loves to write. Jewel is the apple of everyone's eye--be it her doting family, her doctor for her never-ending bowel issues, her pushy book editor and especially her frugal husband's soft spot. So, what's Jewel's weakness? Her pet dogs: Snowie and Dolly. Particularly, naughty Snowie who is known to pee wherever he fancies--including Dolly's face!
For Jewel, her physical disability doesn't dampen her spirits. Rather, it enhances them. She gets to use an unusual fashion accessory (Imagine: A hot pink elbow crutch.) She gets out of doing housework. She gets carried up-and-down stairs like a Princess a la command. Jewel may be horribly messy, terrible with numbers and a workaholic, but nobody can imagine life without her. Not that she would let them, anyway! She has a big mouth, remember?

List of previous books if any
Non-Fiction Puzzle Book for Women:
“Word Search Divas”
-Released October 2011
-Marvelous Spirit Press (Imprint of Loving Healing Press)

Books for Children:
*Cinderella’s Magical Wheelchair (Fairy Ability Tales: Book #1)
-Released August 2011
-Loving Healing Press (USA) 

*The Princess and the Ruby: An Autism Fairy Tale (Fairy Ability Tales: Book #2)
-Released February 2013
-Loving Healing Press (USA) 

*What Do You Use to Help Your Body?: Maggie Explores the World of Disabilities
-Released May 2011
-Loving Healing Press (USA)

*Reena’s Bollywood Dream: A Story About Sexual Abuse
-Released August 2010
-Loving Healing Press (USA)

Any websites/places readers can find you on the web.
“DitzAbled Princess” has a super cool line of character merchandise. For more info, please visit: www.ditzabledprincess.com
 
“DitzAbled Princess” runs as a webcomic. New episodes are uploaded every Wednesday and Sunday at: http://tapastic.com/series/316

To learn more about my children’s books, please visit: www.jewelkats.com

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Memoir Book Review: One Gay American




Paperback: 242 pages
Publisher: Coffeetown Press (September 1, 2012)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1603811532
ISBN-13: 978-1603811538
Price $13.95


This is a first for Families Matter. We don’t normally review books outside of the children’s and young adult markets, but we decided to make an exception for Dennis Bensie and his memoir “One Gay American.” 
One thing Families Matter prides itself with is being a blog for all families. One hot topic of late has been gay families and if same sex couples are fit parents to children. Many celebrities have adopted children and we see the headlines of these same sex couples or mix families, however, Hollywood is never a benchmark in judging the family value system on any level. Hollywood is a world of its own and not like the average world most of us live in. But it still leaves that question in our minds, can same sex couples raise a child in the same manner of male/female couples? Hard to say; but Dennis in his memoir does share about a same sex couple (a friend of his) and their quest to do exactly this. He also shares about his quest to find love, raise a family along with the hardships and joys of being openly gay. 

What we loved about this book is it helps parents of children with same sex attraction have a better understanding of the struggles their child maybe going through as Dennis shares about his journey about life from trying to fit the norm of what society wants to what he personally feels is right for him inside…ultimately he learns to love himself.

This is a must read for anyone dealing with difficult choices that can turn a family upside down or just to understand we all have trails, though they may be different from each other. No matter your views about same sex attraction/marriage, this memoir will help you understand the other side and (at least we hope) help bridge the gap between us as people. 

Parents of gay children, we highly recommend this book for you and your family. No matter what, love your child for who they are. You may not agree with everything they do but love and understanding goes a long way. 

Two thumbs up to Dennis for reminding us of this important fact.


“A coming-of-age story that is universal, especially topical in this current political environment.”

About the Book:
Dennis Milam Bensie is One Gay American. Born in the 1960s and raised with traditional values in Robinson, Illinois. Bensie desperately wanted romance, a beautiful wedding, and a baby to carry on the family name. He denied his sexuality and married a woman at nineteen years old but fantasized of weddings where he could be the bride. The newlyweds "adopted" a Cabbage Patch Doll and ironically witnessed a Cabbage Patch Doll wedding (a successful fundraiser staged by a local women's club) where the dolls were granted the type of grand ceremony off-limits to gay couples.

In search of his identity as a gay man, Bensie divorced his wife and stumbled through missteps and lessons that still sting his generation: defending against bullies, "disappointing" his parents, and looking for love in gay bars, bathhouses and restrooms. He helped his straight friends plan their dream weddings and mourned his gay friends dying of AIDS.

Although true love has not yet come his way, Bensie has learned to love himself. Bensie is the author of the much-lauded memoir, Shorn: Toys to Men, which recounts his battle with paraphilia. One Gay American tells the rest of his story and draws parallels to gay history, decade by decade, with newspaper headlines and quotations. Bensie is the gay neighbor that you either love or hate. Either way, he's got a lot to say and says it with no apologies.


To learn more about the World of Ink Tours visit http://worldofinknetwork.com

Friday, May 17, 2013

Author Interview with Dr. Aaron Chokan of "Lai-Lai Meets Chub-Chub"

Dr. Chokan has been a successful, practicing foot and ankle specialist for 10 years.  Currently, he is owner and founder of Ohio Foot and Ankle Center with 4 locations in Northeast Ohio.  He lives in Hudson, Ohio with his loving wife and 5 children: Hunter, Reece, Finlay, Calais and Lucia and their dog Paisley.  Dr. Chokan is an avid golfer and tennis player.


Dr. Chokan, tell us about your current book. Give a short summary. 

My current book is about the story about my daughter Calais (Lai-Lai) and her struggle to pick the name for her dog.  In the story, she used nature to help her choose a name.  She then brings the audience in with participation to help her shout out some names.  She is such a great story to tell that this intro book is just the beginning. 

Can you tell us about your publisher and how the process worked in getting published? 
I found out about this publishing company from a nurse that I work with at the hospital.   She had written a non-fiction novel.  She was very happy and I used this referral to help start mine.  I believe I started the process in November or December.  My publisher was amazing to have to deal with my habit of wanting perfection.  But we worked through it and the book is such a great addition to our family.  The company, Halo publishing, made the process easy.  They have such a big team to help me get through the overwhelming amount of marketing that it takes to make a book successful.

How did you get the idea for this book? 
The idea of the story came up when my daughter Calais (who we nickname Lai-Lai) decided to give our dog (Paisley) a nickname Chub-Chub.  She loves her dog so much that every day is an adventure and she is such a love to everyone in the family that she was such a great story to tell.

What is a typical writing day like for you? 
Well, I do not have a true “typical writing day.”  I kind of get to my writing in between the other part of day taking care of patients, performing surgery, running a successful business, being a landlord and then finally being a father to my 5 children.  So usually writing is in the early morning probably 5:30, I turn on my laptop, sit on the couch and begin to write as a 3.5 year old would.  
 
What do you enjoy most about writing?
Best part about writing is being able to use my creativity.  Being a foot and ankle specialist, we obviously have to follow rules and guidelines and make sure that we are helping the patient to experience relief and keep them healthy and happy.  But when writing there are really only rules of the English language and those can be bent most of the time.   

What is the most difficult part of writing? 
I think the most difficult thing about writing is trying to not write how we speak.

How has publishing a book changed your life?
I think it is quite a sense of accomplishment when you have told someone that you have written a book.  Most of my patients and family and friends are my greatest fans.  Everyone has been so supportive.  It is funny to have my patients ask me “when did you have time to do this?”  So that seems to be the most common response since they know how busy I am running the business and keeping up with my five beautiful children.

If your book is based on true events, how has that affected those around you or why made you choose to use historical events?  
I think that I write about historical events and things that have happened with my family because they are usually the most memorable and some of the happiest moments in my life.  My family is the happiest thing that has happened to me and all I want to do is tell it in a story.  But this story I chose to talk about how this relationship that she has with her dog is going to grow and I plan to bring the whole family into the next one. 

What are your plans now?
Plans now are to see how well I can market my book.  I guess I never knew the costs of starting and finishing a book.  I never really cared to sell the books and to make money off it.  I was just happy letting everyone learn about my daughter and how this adventure book will grow as she grows.  It was really just mementos for my family and friends.  But I will continue to write my next book which is almost completely done.
  
What is your best tip for aspiring authors?
I went to talk to my twin son’s classes during right to read week in Hudson, Ohio.  They are all writing stories and being creative and so, I would tell anyone that the minute you think of something that sounds like a great idea, write it down!  Keep those thoughts, keep adding to it, and go back to it a little at a time.  

Is there anything else you would like to share with our readership?  
The most amazing part of the story is how well my illustrator and I worked together to create the look and the scenes of the book.  I had the scenes all laid out and she made them come to life.  I used to love to come home from work and each night open up a new email from her to approve or change each scene.  I miss that.    

Do you have a website? If so, please give the URL. If not, where can readers go online to learn more about your book(s) and to order?
You can find out more about Dr. Aaron Chokan, his picture book series and World of Ink Author/Book Tour at http://tinyurl.com/clmogvy

Follow Dr. Aaron Chokan at

www.facebook.com/lailaiandchubchub  and you can learn more about me at www.ohiofac.com thanks so much.
 

PLEASE NOTE

*Stories for Children Publishing, LLC. (SFC) and its divisions do not receive any compensation for product reviews beyond a sample and/or limited access to a paid website. SFC donates all books sent for review to a charitable organization. SFC may do a contest or giveaway of samples we receive.