Category : Author of the Month

Author of the Month

Sally Walls shares her ‘nightfall to daybreak’ in emotionally raw book on losing her son

sally-birthday_1-copyPrior to becoming a published author, Walls admits that she was always in love with writing. “I’ve grown up always being a writer of some sort,” she says. “I like people. And therefore, when you put the two together I like storytelling because they kind of go together. I like to write about people, what I hear, and what I see.”

Although Walls had written two manuscripts about the tragic event, she never felt that it was the right time to publish her work. About five years ago, Walls attended a writer’s conference in New Mexico and had her work critiqued.

“I met some American publishing groups and they were all sort of giving me the green light, ‘Go ahead. This is good,’” she explains. “And yet I came back and really felt I had to sit on it. I really felt like it was not my time to tell the story yet.” With 2017 marking the 10-year anniversary of her son’s death, the author admits she “found her voice” and felt that it was ultimately time to share her experience.

After her other son left for Berlin following New Year’s Day, Walls immersed herself in writing this book. From January to May, the difficult writing process forced her to recall the heartbreaking memories.

“I didn’t think it was possible to have so many tears,” she says. “After ten years of letting go of my son, I was actually amazed at how much emotion it evoked. There would be some days that I would be going deep into my memories to craft a story because I had written the book in a series of snapshot stories to tell his life. There were days where I would really have to lay my head on my desk and just sob until I let go of some of that pain that had found me.”

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Author of the Month

Edgerton R. Nicholson shares his recipe for concocting the spine-chilling scenes in Nightmare Pie

It can certainly be quite scary to write and self-publish your first book. But, writing captivating content can be even more challenging when you’re trying to send shivers up the spines of your readers. Tellwell author Edgerton R. Nicholson shares the spooky details that inspired his collection of short stories titled Nightmare Pie. The novel offers a glimpse into the netherworld

and the frailty of the human mind. Served on a cold plate of the surreal and macabre, it is a must read…Especially in the middle of the night.

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Nicholson talks with me about writing horrific plots, believable character arcs, and bloodcurdling climaxes. Read on if you dare…

 

FJ: What motivated you to write a horrific/paranormal book?

EN: As a young boy I was enamored with books such as Tom Corbett Space Cadet and his intergalactic exploits, and the Hardy Boys with their adventures into local mysterious happenings.  My Mom took me to the movies to see Conquest in Outer Space, The Angry Red Planet and the original Blob, which scared the daylights out of me.  So as a youngster I developed a penchant for the mysterious, the surreal, and the macabre.  As a young adult I savoured Rod Serling’s Twilight Zone, and Hitchcock’s movies such as The Birds and who can forget Psycho?  I moved on to Stephen King and studied the film adaptations of his stories.  I was hooked.  I knew I wanted to write something, probably not a novel initially so I just started writing short stories about my own experiences, or offbeat and unusual items I had seen in the news.

Working in the film and television industry in special make-up effects on shows such as Supernatural, The Dead Zone, and Final Destination further stoked my interest in the surreal and netherworld.  I showed a few friends some early stories and received a very positive response.  I accumulated eleven stories and with the expertise and help of Tellwell Publishing created an anthology which became Nightmare Pie.  I think there is a market for this kind of book, a collection of short stories all different, to be enjoyed when one has fifteen or thirty minutes freedom to read from start to finish during a commute, or in bed before falling asleep.  Not everyone wants to take on an 800-page novel, either in reading or writing.

 

FJ: When and where did you come up for the ideas for this book?

EN: The common thread in Nightmare Pie is that something weird, bad, unexplainable, surreal, and yes in some cases, horrific is going to happen to somebody in each story.  Much like life itself. When and where I came up with the ideas for the stories I sometimes wonder and I think the only answer I can give is based upon my own personal experiences.

For example, two stories, ‘The Man with the Green Nose’ and ‘Red Roadster Revelation’ are based on my experiences in working at a funeral home part time while I attended chiropractic college.  ‘Animal Avengers’ is a reflection of my love for animals and a fitting end for those who abuse them.  ‘Garcia’s Revenge’ reports on the plight of Mexicans working in the fields of American farms and a case of severe injustice and retribution.  ‘Death in the Forest’ is a new take on the Bigfoot phenomenon and ‘Lowes Descent’ is a story of one man’s paranoid downward spiral caused by the in your face incessant news cycle.  The stories focus on the seemingly endless human foible of making assumptions, not recognizing the law of unintended consequences, or finally simply encountering evil head on in one form or another. ‘Teratoid’ was written in response to the terrible Japanese earthquake, tsunami and ultimate nuclear plant meltdown and its effects on the Pacific Ocean and one unfortunate young couple travelling in Japan two years later.  ‘Mr. Nocebo Points the Bone’ is a disturbing look at what happens when those in need place their faith in wrong people with ulterior motives.

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Author of the Month

Giving Back: Father Son Duo Pen Book for Burn Fund

All it took was an act of kindness for the idea of “Santa and his Super Hero” to come to life.

COQUITLAM,BC:NOVEMBER 29, 2016 -- Nathan McTaggart poses for a photo with the book and members of the Austin Heights Fire Station in Coquitlam, BC, November, 29, 2016. Nathan wrote about Santa getting stuck in the chimney and firefighters had to rescue him. (Richard Lam/PNG) (For Tracy Sherlock) 00046527A [PNG Merlin Archive]

A few years ago, three-year-old Nathan McTaggart was making a donation to a local food bank when a firetruck pulled into the area. The fire truck captivated Nathan and later on he asked his dad, Keven McTaggart, what would happen if Santa got stuck in a chimney and couldn’t get out. The fire truck and pertinent question formed the beginnings of what would become the book “Santa and his Super Hero”; a story about Santa getting stuck in a chimney while a firefighter named Nathan comes to his rescue.

The initial stages of the book were a challenge for Keven and Nathan, particularly the illustrations.

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“After a couple years of looking for someone to illustrate it, Nathan’s grade 4 teacher had her class do some illustrations as a preparation for a project that they were going to do.  She showed me the images and I was totally amazed,” says Keven.  The illustrations from the book were hand-drawn by the students in Mrs. Shinkewski’s Grade 4 class at Harbour View Elementary School.

But as the two started to put a draft of their book together they realized they wanted to give back to the community by donating some of the proceeds to a charity.

“The biggest take away from the book is that the net proceeds from the sale of Santa and his Super Hero will be donated to the Professional Fire Fighters’ Burn Fund,” says Keven.

As part of promoting the book, Nathan and Keven have visited fire halls all over the world, “We’ve done about 40 fire hall visits in and around the Lower Mainland of BC, three in Washington State, one in Mexico, four in Manhattan, and more recently, we returned from a 16 day, 18 fire hall tour of Southern Ontario and Montreal,” says Keven.

posterOn October 13, Nathan and Keven will be launching Santa and his Super Hero at the Coquitlam Express hockey game. Nathan and Santa will be dropping the puck at the opening face-off at 7 p.m. and they will both be available for book signings afterwards. Members of the B.C. Burn Fund, the Coquitlam Fire Department and some Coquitlam City Counsellors will be in attendance.

 

 

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Author of the Month

“It’s okay to look back, but you don’t have to live there” – Kathy Tuccaro encourages readers to DREAM BIG!

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We’ve all heard the saying “people can change” at one point or another. While we might not always believe it, there’s no denying Kathy Tuccaro did just that.

After years of physical, verbal and sexual abuse, assault, violence, eating disorders, substance abuse, job loss and homelessness, Tuccaro decided to start writing a different ending for her story.

She sought the help she needed through a Women’s Recovery Program, got her certification in Occupational Health and Safety, and now drives the biggest truck in the world through the Alberta Oil Sands.

In her self-published memoir DREAM BIG! Tuccaro shares her journey from what she describes as the “root cellar of Rock Bottom” to inspirational triumph.

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“I have always said I would write a book about my life because nobody would believe me otherwise,” she says. After being encouraged by others at speaking events she attended last year, she decided to start writing.

“I started with a pen and paper while sitting in the 208,000L water truck at work, waiting under the water tree for the tank to fill up. I had written the book within a month,” she says.

It was no easy feat to describe the physical and mental abuse she endured throughout her childhood, nor the sexual assault she faced in her modelling career at 17. Even after relocating to Jasper for a fresh start in 1991, Tuccaro was still confronted with challenges.

She graduated from her nursing program in 1998 as a divorced, single mother with a 3-year-old daughter. After several more years of physically and emotionally abusive relationships, Tuccaro resorted to self-harm and alcohol abuse, which ruined her career. With no job, she was evicted and her daughter stopped speaking to her.

“I had pushed everything into the background my entire life, and kept pretending that I was tough and that I could handle it until the time came when I lost my nursing career for good and relapsed hard with my drinking,” says Tuccaro.

But the gravity of the situation hit even harder during the week she spent living on the streets, when her depression could no longer be avoided or forgotten.

“A man named Toothless Joe slapped me on the back and said, ‘This is the life! Live it! Love it!’ and smiled a great big toothless grin! He was quite content of the life he was living, and the sheer shock of hearing him say that stunned me,” she says.

That was the moment that triggered her to get help. But, even after spending nearly two years in a women’s recovery program, landing a full-time job as a Heavy Equipment Operator, driving a 400 tonne 797F Caterpillar Truck, and initiating and participating in several community initiatives, the pain from her past lingers. “You still relive it as you write about it,” Tuccaro explains.

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Author of the Month

Don Levers talks book marketing – Masterminding the perfect strategy for success

don-levers-author-headshotIn January 1977, five men tunneled through steel and concrete to break into the Vancouver Safety Deposit Vault. The men pilfered more than 1200 safety deposit boxes and stole millions of dollars in jewelry, gold bars, and cash. It was a perfect crime. Except, when staff at Vancouver International Airport noticed that the men’s luggage was exceptionally heavy, they called the police. The men were arrested. The perfect crime a flop.

This is the true story that inspired Don Levers to begin to write his novel, Loot for the Taking. “The idea of these professional criminals who staged the perfect crime with an imperfect getaway wouldn’t leave me,” said Levers.  He began writing the novel in 1987 and last year, with encouragement from his family, Levers sat down to finish his book. “It took a solid year of writing, re-writing, editing, re-writing, and more editing to reach the finish line,” said Levers.

There are a lot of parallels to publishing a book and planning the perfect crime. You can write the best book on the planet, but if you don’t take steps to make sure your getaway (marketing plan) is solid, you’ll be grounded in terms of book sales. Which is why Levers decided to make book marketing his primary occupation. “It’s a lot of work but if you enjoy it, it’s not a job,” he explained.

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Author of the Month

Celebrating Canada 150: Heather Pattullo’s passion for her country drives book’s success

heather-bioLike many first-time authors, Heather Pattullo didn’t realize the journey she was getting herself into when she decided to self-publish. On a steep learning curve, she encountered many hurdles along the way, including a 4-month waiting period to gain permission to use the images in her book.

But, her ‘cross-Canada guidebook’ Positively Canadian: A fun guide to Canadian language, culture and history, couldn’t have been released at a better time.

On the cusp of Canada’s 150th birthday, Pattullo has been taking advantage of any opportunity to feature her book, and it’s certainly paying off.

“The end was worth the means to get there. My fingernails are growing again” she said.

positivelycanadian

Not only has it been extremely rewarding to finally hold the book in hand, but also Pattullo said she’s been overwhelmed with the response from those she’s connected with so far.

Taking advantage of the waiting period to develop some good working relationships with those in her local community, Pattullo has already had book signings at Albany Books in Tsawwassen and Black Bond Books in Delta. Both bookstores are now carrying her book on consignment.

She was featured in her local paper, the Delta Optimist (read the article here,) and was also invited to sell her book at the national and provincial conventions for the Imperial Order Daughters of the Empire (IODE) in Vancouver at the end of May.

Her calendar is already filled up with events throughout July, including book readings and signings at three Fraser Valley Regional libraries in the Delta area, and a signing at the Granville Chapters in Vancouver on July 9.

Pattullo has approached private schools and the Vancouver Community College, to add copies of her book to their libraries for students to read and learn about Canada. She’s already sold the first 150 copies of the book, and a second order has arrived for her upcoming events.

“I haven’t even tapped into the all the ESL schools in Vancouver,” said Pattullo. “I still have lots of places to go, I’ll probably be busy until Christmas!” she laughed.

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Author of the Month

An educator, an illustrator and a puppeteer walk into a bar…

lindaanddariapreview

…While that could be the beginning of a corny joke, it’s also, save for the bar, the beginning of Linda Briden’s story as an author.

Long before holding her new book, Know Me, in her hands, before retiring, before hosting her first workshop for children, Linda spent her days as a child and youth worker and a special education teacher.

“I’ve always worked with kids that didn’t quite fit the system,” she says. “The system wasn’t designed for these kids. These kids that had some challenges, that had different stories and, perhaps, had strengths and gifts that weren’t quite mainstream.”

After retiring and finally having some time on her hands, Linda felt compelled to find a way to keep helping the kinds of kids she’d spent years working with. This led to two very important things happening — a meeting about pictures and a meeting about puppets.

“It was kind of a perfect storm,” she says of Know Me’s early days. “I connected with this young woman who did the illustrating (Daria Pekh), and she was really keen to do something a little different from what she had been doing. I then developed a business partnership with a woman who’s a puppeteer, and we’ve created a workshop that incorporates the book and a performance piece which uses the text from the book.”

Linda and her Puppeteria workshop partner, Shelley King, wanted to create something to address the bigger ideas of inclusiveness, tolerance, and acknowledging individual stories. The idea of the Know Me workshops and book were born together as chicken and egg, creating completely cohesive and complementary companion pieces to one another.

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Author of the Month

How Tellwell author Angela Campagnoni is using social media to gain exposure and publicity

angela-campagnoni-2017-head-shotAfter losing her beloved father at a young age, Angela Campagnoni set out to write a book that helps children going through similar devastating losses.  In March, she published I Want to See My Papa, a touching, illustrated book to help children understand loss, bereavement and healing through love and acceptance.

Writing was a self-healing process for Campagnoni, but the real journey had just begun. “It’s a lot of work, once you hit marketing,” she admitted.

Campagnoni was fortunate to already have a strong social media following on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, from her work in the fashion industry. Even with her pre-established networks, she still considers the online marketing to be a fulltime job.

“If you don’t have a social media presence already, start it early, early, early,” she said. “Even with my amount of social media, I still felt like I was late. It’s hard when it’s your first time because you don’t know what you should share, and what you can share.”

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Author of the Month

Tellwell author Deborah Kane shares her inspiration behind writing the Fifth Dragon series

deborah-kane-headshotWhat started as a creative outlet after long days of high-pressure financial work for the government soon morphed into the beginning of the Fifth Dragon series.

Deborah Kane never intended to embark on writing a fantasy series, nor did she expect the ideas to translate to three books, or more. Kane wrote the first book, Fifth Dragon – Cumulos Capers, to revive the humorous aspects of fantasy.

“Most of what’s out there is really dark,” she said. “This is just light humour with some magic.”

There was no plan in mind, no concerns of pleasing anybody and no restrictions. “This one just kind of came out of nowhere,” she said.  “I wrote it just for fun, the writing just came and came, and then I realized ‘Oh my gosh, these are books.’”

By the time she started writing the second book, Kane got more serious about the project. “Only as I went along, I realized, ‘Okay, I need a direction,’” she explained.

First, she set herself a schedule, writing in five hour increments, mostly over weekends. Though Kane stressed the importance of being passionate about the subject matter, she also recognized the value of sticking to time goals.

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Author of the Month Tellwell Books

How parents can help protect their children from online predators

Many children are accessing the Internet using mobile devices and computers, and parents often don’t know what sites they’re visiting or with whom their kids are interacting.

The way we parent our children has to evolve along with technology, says author Charlene Doak-Gebauer. That means including digital supervision and guidance as part of traditional parenting.

“The Internet and digital devices are light years ahead of parenting, and it’s time parents caught up,” she said.

Doak-Gebauer explains her theory of digital supervision in her book Digital Sexual Victims: True Cases (published by Tellwell). She wrote the book to protect children and families from becoming victims of child pornography after her niece was targeted by neighbours when she was only four-years-old.

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