Tell me a little bit about I Chose You!
When five-year-old Sammy puts a cowering, crying puppy from the adoption tent into his reluctant Mom's arms, she loves it's sweetness. The experience leads Sammy and his Mom to have a conversation that links his adoption and the adoption of the puppy. Mom allows Sammy to adopt the puppy, but trouble erupts between the puppy, Bailey, and the family's pet bunny, Thumpster. Will Bailey and Thumpster ever get along? Sammy must learn how to help Bailey feel safe and accept love and comfort in his new home, as they love past their differences.
It sounds interesting! Having worked for an animal shelter for many years, I always love hearing stories of animals finding their forever homes. What inspired you to write this story?
I was taking a writing class at the time I started this story. The focus for that week's lesson was to write an attention-getting opening paragraph. Inspiration came as I wrote the first sentence about a family heading into a pet store for bunny food. The attention grabber was the pet adoption tent in the parking lot and a sad-looking puppy off by itself. That immediately led me to create a main character who was also adopted. It probably has something to do with seeing so many joyful adoption stories on Facebook.
Are you already thinking of your next story idea?
Yes, I'm already working on the next manuscript. I write and illustrate so my mind sees both parts. Even though I have over 40 stories written and waiting for me to illustrate, a new one popped in my head and is taking over.
I always think it is so special when an author is also the illustrator and love hearing about that process! What do you hope to achieve with I Chose You?
I hope to convey to my audience the importance of caring about others, even when they don't look or do things the same, but instead, loving past our differences.
That is a beautiful message. What do you like to do when you're not writing?
When I'm not working on books, I love painting Classical Realism oil portraits and seeing the joy a finished painting brings to my customers.
How wonderful! What has been your reader's reaction to the book?
My readers are touched by the love seen not only in the words but also the emotion from the illustrations. It seems to transport them to a happy, peaceful place.
Can you tell me a little bit about Nikki Adopts Abbey Dog?
Nikki is helping at her uncle’s weekly auction when a man drops off three puppies to be adopted. Nikki desperately wants to adopt the smallest of the basset hound puppies. After much anxiety, Nikki’s Uncle ensures she is able to adopt her puppy for a “sticky” quarter. Nikki names her puppy Abbey Dog and the two head home to start their many exciting adventures.
I love stories about animal companions! What inspired you to write this story?
I grew up with three brothers in a small town in Iowa. There was not much to do, so we would come up with fun adventures to fill our days. All the ideas for my stories come from things that happened during my childhood or during my children’s.
That's so wonderful that a part of you is in your book! Publishing isn't easy, was there a point when you wanted to give up on writing your book?
Initially, I thought the only way to publish a children’s book was to work with a publishing company. Therefore, I sent a submission to a publisher but was discouraged when I never heard back. I was not aware of the self-publishing option until I came across Bethany’s videos. This discovery opened my eyes to new possibilities, and I immediately signed up and got started. I studied the videos and used the In-Design practice lessons to prepare myself for my first attempt at self-publishing. After a few times back and forth with KDP, my first book was published.
I am so elated to hear that you were able to carve your path and continued to follow your dreams even after the initial setback. Is this book a part of a series? If so, tell me about your plans and any others that have come out!
My book series is “The Adventures of Nikki and Abbey Dog.”
The second book of the series has also been published, “Nikki Rescues Abbey Dog from the Dark Shadows.“ I have two more books written, edited, and awaiting illustrations. The third book is “Nikki and Abbey Dog Rescue a Bunny,” and the fourth is “Nikki, Abbey Dog and the Weird Blue Alien.”
Wow! You have your hands full! I am so excited to see your books continue to come out and narrate the story of Nikki and Abbey Dog!
A Few Tips:
As authors, we are always looking for new ways to get our books in front of a new audience! I have compiled a list of resources that will promote your free e-book for free! Some of them do offer paid promotions, but that is up to you and your relationship with the resources. I haven't tried any paid options yet, and still, see considerable numbers in downloads.
For each resource, there may be a few different rules, so before you submit your book, make sure it meets the requirements (ex. reviews, pages, subject, etc.) I've listed the requirements I've found but they may change!
I will add more as I find more over time!
Murrysville Community Library is celebrating Save the Ocean!
Photo Credit: Becky Martinazzi
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Tell me a little bit about your first book, "Sammy's Shell!"
Sammy's Shell is a children's rhyming story about kindness. Sammy is a sea snail who gives her shell to a crab who doesn't have one. She unknowingly causes a pay-it-forward effect as different sea animals choose to help someone in need. I have also created a free Sammy's Shell activity library (coloring pages, language and learning worksheets, etc.), for parents and teachers on my website, mollyheckbooks.com.
Wonderful! I love the pay it forward message. And free activates are always fun, especially with World Oceans Day approaching! What do you hope to achieve with your story?
I work with children to develop their language and communication skills, so I've seen first hand how powerful books can be in supporting language, preliteracy, social awareness, and so much more... At the very least, I hope the book helps young children build a foundation for understanding emotions and the impact that our decisions and actions can have. Ideally, I'd love to see families and early educators using the book and free activities to help children talk about the story and practice those skills.
Absolutely, and you've provided such a great foundation for families and educations to easily access and utilize resources from. What do you like to do when you're not writing?
I am a speech-language pathologist, so I work with children in a school setting to develop their communication skills. I also have 2-year old twins who keep me super busy at home.
Wow you have your hands full! I love how the message and goals of your book works hand and hand with your profession. It lends so much expertise behind your book that readers will benefit from. What has been your reader's reaction to the book?
My own kids each gave it 1 star when I asked, but to be fair they don't really understand numbers or rating systems yet :) In all honestly, they were my first beta readers and even though they could probably recite the story by now - they still love looking at the pictures and reading it with me. The book was released May 16th, and so far the reactions have been overwhelmingly positive. It has been steadily showing as a #1 New Release in multiple categories. I'm excited for more feedback as it reaches new readers.
I'm sure your kids meant number one, which is an amazing accomplishment to have it ranking as a #1 New Release. Congrats! Who is your favorite character from the story?
In terms of personality, I'd have to say Glowfish, because when he had the opportunity to help someone, he was exceptionally brave. For the illustrations though, turtle takes the cake.
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Tell me a little bit about "The Grands Go - Oh No! The Great Smoky Mountains."
I am writing a travel series for grandparents and grandkids. The books feature a family of pygmy goats, Grandbuck, Grandnan, Billy, and Lilly grandkids, who take trips together and learn to see the silver lining when plans fall apart. The website for the book helps grandparents plan trips by providing suggestions for accommodations, restaurants, parks, activities, and playlists.
Awesome! What inspired you to write this story?
I was looking for a location-specific book for my granddaughter while on vacation. I couldn't find what I was looking for, so the next morning, I wrote "The Grands Go - Oh No! The Florida Panhandle." After a positive reaction from family and friends, I decided to see how far I could get with self-publishing.
Congrats on starting your self-publishing journey! What do you hope to achieve with your story?
I hope children will engage with the story, and grandparents will be proactive in taking their grandchildren to fun and memorable places. One of the saddest things about the pandemic was the loss of time with older family members. I think we all better appreciate time together now and will be more intentional about how we invest our time.
I agree. There is never too much time spend with loved ones. You mentioned this book was apart of a series, and have mentioned a few titles so far. Can you tell me about future plans and any others that are coming out soon?
The second book is "The Grands Go- Oh No! The Florida Panhandle" and the third is "The Grands Go - Oh No! The Grand Canyon. Book two is being illustrated now and I just finished writing the third. I hope to have them all available by Grandparents Day in September
What a wonderful day to celebrate! You've got your hands full! What has been the reader's reaction to the book so far?
I have been surprised at the reaction to the book since publishing on April 1. Most of the buyers so far are from this area (East Tennessee) and have the same memories I do of visiting the Smokies. I wrote the book for kids, but adults seem to like it just as much. My favorite thing is when I get a picture of a child holding the book or reading it.
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What inspired you to write your newest book, My Big Welcome?
On May 3, 2016, My family and I were one of the 90 thousand people that fled the Fort McMurray wildfires. As a result of the wildfire, we lost our house and were displaced from life as we knew it. It was quite overwhelming, especially for my older daughter, who was six years old at the time. We moved to the city of Edmonton and had to just start over. My daughter had to go to a new school, but she was so scared. She was so worried about being the new kid in school and thought people might not be so nice. That all changed the moment, we stepped into her new class. The kids were AMAZING! I must say I have never met kids as nice as that before. They were all over her, ready to be her friend. That show of love, that gesture of kindness, turned the fear in my daughter's heart into hope. That was what inspired My BIg Welcome.
That gives me full-body chills. I'm so happy that the children were so welcoming to her, such a nice contrast to the tragedy you and your family experienced. What are you hoping to achieve with My Big Welcome?
I hope to highlight the power and importance of kindness in our world. My hope is that children will be inspired and equipped to be kind. Kindness can be learned and taught. I believe kindness heals and does make the world a better place. What better way to teach kindness than to show an example of kindness, which is shown in My Big Welcome.
I agree. Your book is powerful! Are you already thinking of your next story idea?
Yes, I am! I have a few stories I am already working on.
Exciting! When did you first realize you wanted to be a writer?
I have always written. I remember being a kid and always scribbling stories. I had a lot of lined notebooks filled with some of my stories. My no. 1 reader was my younger sister. I am so thankful for her! I believe this passion grew when I was about 13.
Wow, that is amazing! It would be fun to revisit some of those stories. What do you like to do when you're not writing?
I like to play. I love playing lego or just playing pretend with my kids. We make up a story and pretend to be the characters. I enjoy making very silly character voices. I also love listening to music!
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Tell me a little bit about "A Lost Star Named Stella."
Stella is a sweet little star who loves to sparkle in the night sky. One night, she gets hopelessly lost in the dark. After meeting three different and equally unhelpful celestial bodies, Stella encounters the Bright Morning Star, who knows both her name and the way home. With musical rhyme, whimsical illustrations, and a tender ending, A Lost Star Named Stella is a darling faith-based picture book sure to warm young hearts and draw them closer to Him. Its beautiful pictures will captivate babies and adults alike, and its heartwarming message is relevant for all ages as well!
What inspired you to write this story?
Stella's story was inspired by Isaiah 40:26, which says, "Lift up your eyes and look to the heavens: Who created all these? He who brings out the starry host one by one and calls forth each of them by name. Because of his great power and mighty strength, not one of them is missing."
What do you hope to achieve with your story?
I hope to encourage children and adults alike to follow God because He is willing and able to guide them along their life's journey. I also pledged to donate $1 from the sale of every ALSNS book to Starlight Children's Foundation, an organization dedicated to delivering happiness to seriously ill children and their families (see https://www.starlight.org/).
It is so heart-warming that you are donating $1 to the Starlight Children's Foundation! Was there a point when you wanted to give up on writing your book?
Yes, when I reached out to unresponsive or expensive publishers before I realized I could self-publish!
Congrats on taking your publishing journey into your own hands! What do you like to do when you're not writing?
Bake, read!, Pilates, catch up with friends, try new restaurants with my husband, travel, love on my kids.
Wonderful! What is your favorite part of the publishing journey?
Seeing my words come to life through illustrations.
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Celebrate Earth Day with the "Save the Earth" children's book series. Read a new story every day of Earth week!
Celebrating Earth Day with children with earth-friendly stories is an exciting way to welcome kids into an environmentally conscious mindset as they learn real-world problems told by relatable fictional characters!
Bethany Stahl's Save the Earth™ series tackles a different ecological problem in each book, from recycling and composting to the importance of biodiversity and the human impact.
The Save the Earth™ series is filled with exciting green living ideology perfect for classroom learning to bedtime stories. Celebrate the wonders of earth with these delightful planet-friendly stories. Don't forget that Bethany Stahl has created animated audiobooks to enjoy her stories for free!
Check out her Animation playlist on YouTube
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What is the title of your debut children's book?
It is called "The Girl and the Dragonfly."
Exciting! The title immediately has piqued my curiosity. Can you tell me a little about it?
Dragonflies usually represent change and living in the moment. “The Girl and the Dragonfly” is a story about a little girl who meets a dragonfly. The dragonfly helps the little girl learn how to live in the moment while also bringing her happiness.
Your story has a beautiful message, one for children and adults alike. What inspired you to write "The Girl and the Dragonfly"?
The Girl and the Dragonfly” was inspired by my mom and this story is also dedicated to her. My mom was diagnosed with an incurable disease when I was younger and has been battling non-alcoholic liver disease for more than 15 years. Every year I attend a charity 5K to walk in honor of mom and help raise money and awareness about the disease. However, since the COVID-19 pandemic hit this year, the annual 5K had to be canceled. Since the event was canceled, I wanted to find another way to raise money for the American Liver Foundation in honor of my mom. This is when I decided to write a children’s book and donate a portion of the profits made from book sales to the American Liver Foundation. Every purchase of “The Girl and the Dragonfly” will help me raise money for the American Liver Foundation in honor of my mom. I hope this book will also make children everywhere smile no matter what they may be going through in their life.
This is truly touching and such an honorable way to support not only your mother but everyone connected to the American Liver Foundation. I, too, have a loved one affected by a non-alcoholic liver disease, and I wholeheartedly thank you for your work. Do you have any plans for another book?
I have actually already written and published second children’s book titled “Leo the Dragonfly.” My second book released in January 2021. I am thinking about creating an entire children’s book series based on the dragonfly character, Leo, who is introduced in “The Girl and the Dragonfly.”
That is amazing! I'm so glad to hear Leo's character continues in stories that we can all fall in love with. Thank you for taking the time to share about your books. I look forward to seeing more from you in the future!
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