Category : Author of the Month

Author of the Month Author Success - In the media, awards, reviews

Rave reviews and major publicity for Tim Darcy Ellis – Tellwell’s October author of the month

Tell us about yourself. 

Well, I have a busy life! I write historical fiction, I run a business and I work as a physiotherapist. I was born in Sussex, England, brought up in Surrey and now live in Sydney, Australia. I was formerly a professional archaeologist – being  graduate of the University of York, and having worked at the Museum of London in the late 1980s and early 1990s; I was also a tour guide at the British Museum. 

I have been lucky enough to have enjoyed a few careers. I qualified as a physiotherapist in London in 1998. Whilst studying for my physio degree, I worked as a chef for four years at the Covent Garden Brasserie, which is now the site of the west end apple store! I moved to Australia in 2000, the year of the Sydney Olympics; thinking that it would be a temporary move, but I have been here ever since. Currently, I have my own holistic Physiotherapy and Wellness centre (Excel Physiotherapy and Wellness) in Sydney. 

I live in Elizabeth Bay, which is in the eastern suburbs of Sydney, and I love it here. I have a partner and a dog. I love getting away from town though for ocean swimming, bushwalking and rock climbing. I’m passionate about history, archaeology and philosophy and I love the variety of media forms available now – books, audio, podcasts. Reading history and archaeology is my main relaxation and my escape. 

What inspired you to write your book?

I’ve always been a writer – be it poetry, short stories, memoir, health and wellness or just letters to the press. I had been writing a lot before I discovered my character; the day I found him was a revelation and I decided that I just had to write about him.   

That said, I discovered Juan Luis Vives by mistake. I’d never heard of him until I gave a Spanish friend in Australia a book about exiles from Spain and I thumbed through it first and found out about this incredible man. 

His life-story became my inspiration. It then became my mission to bring him back into the light and writing a novel rather than a non-fiction book allowed me to give him a human voice. As a Spanish Jew, he had to hold so much back in his academic writing and yet you can still feel the struggles that he endured. By writing in an intimate diary format, I could give the man himself a voice. That was a privilege, because Vives, forgotten by the mainstream, really contributed to making the world a better place. 

Who is Juan Luis Vives and how did you become interested in his story?

Juan Luis Vives was born to a family of Spanish Jews in Valencia in 1492. His family were faced with an excruciating choice: leave Spain permanently or stay and convert to Catholicism. The family decided to stay and convert – a decision that they would later come to regret – as one-by-one they were ‘picked-off,’ by the Spanish Inquisition, for the crime of ‘Judaising.’ He left Spain at the age of sixteen – never to return for fear of the Inquisition. He moved to Paris and then to Flanders, and he eventually came to the English (Tudor) Court of Henry VIII and Catherine of Aragon. There he became tutor to Princess Mary and he became closely acquainted with the well-known characters of the English court such as Thomas More, Anne Boleyn and Cardinal Wolsey. 

Vives spoke about ideas that were quite revolutionary in the 1520s. He was a great scholar, writer and teacher. His ideas encompassed the rights and equality of women, the necessity for peace over war – at all costs – and the cessation of sedition, oppression and persecution. He advocated for state-funded schools, skill-training and hospitals for all; regardless of class. Vives hated lofty, pretentious academic speech.  He studied his subjects closely, and he spoke about syndromes such as ‘post-traumatic stress disorder,’ and addiction to such an extent that he has been named the Godfather of Psychoanalysis (Zilboorg, 1941). He also wrote about care of the animals – that they experienced emotions and had memories – quite revolutionary for his day.

All the while, he was struggling with great internal conflict. He was always keeping one step ahead of the Spanish Inquisition and staying out of danger himself. He was also trying to help his family and his people, who were still in Spain. 

I have created this educational video for YouTube to explain, in greater detail and depth, the man who was Juan Luis Vives.

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Author of the Month Author Success - In the media, awards, reviews

10-year-old author Shreya Gupta’s book royalties help improve young girls’ access to education

Our September author of the month, Shreya Gupta, is only 10-years-old! Shreya Gupta’s book Flamingo Feet is the story of a young girl who dreams about becoming a jazz dancer but drops out of a dance competition after being bullied. She learns to stand up for herself and pursue her dreams. The young author has been featured on CTV National News, her local newspaper and her book won the Mom’s Choice Awards! Not only that, all royalties will go towards a charity that helps young girls in India receive better access to education. Shreya, you are an inspiration!

1. Tell us a bit about yourself.

My name is Shreya Gupta and I’m 10-years-old. In my spare time, I enjoy raising money for various charities that help young girls access education in developing countries. My goal is to inspire young girls around the world to always chase their dreams, no matter what. In my spare time, I enjoy sketching, reading, and writing stories. I also take jazz dancing lessons which inspired me to write Flamingo Feet, which is about a girl’s dream to jazz dance.

2. What inspired you to write your book?

About a year and a half ago, I took a trip to India with my parents and family. There were a lot of kids who were coming up to me selling pens for money so they could get food. This made me very sad that many kids did not have access to basic needs like food and clothing. I wanted to do something to help out. My grandfather runs a charity that helps girls access education in developing countries like India. I decided this was a great opportunity to get involved with the charity and write a book to raise money for it.

3. How have your personal experiences influenced your book?

I wanted to help children access education. I also wanted to write a book that inspires kids to always chase their dreams, no matter what. The book is about a young girl named Aria who has to overcome bullying. I wanted to write a book about this topic as I feel it’s a very important issue in today’s world.

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Author of the Month Tellwell Books

PRIDE SPOTLIGHT: Celebrating LGTBQ+ Authors & Books

This month we are celebrating our LGTBQ+ authors and books with LGTBQ+ themes and characters. Each book, story and shared experience paves the way towards a more inclusive future. It helps people see from a different perspective, and perhaps, increase understanding and change attitudes. Sharing a personal experience with the public isn’t easy but it is empowering. Thank you for sharing your story.

David Scott
Stargazer

At the age of seventeen, his life changed dramatically when his father died and David took on the running of the family cinemas and drive-in theatres. Puberty and not coming to terms with being gay plagued David who had to keep his sexuality secret in his small home town.

His career includes forty years as a film exhibitor; establishing a horse stud; managing a motel; working in the hospitality industry, and a few other experiences along the way. David’s latest book, Stargazer, is an autobiography highlighting the value of family, ingenuity, bravado, old-fashioned common sense, colourful characters and unfailing good humour. From rural towns in Victoria and New South Wales, to the mountain life in Queensland, the constant has been faithful canine companions, perseverance and a joy for living.

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Author of the Month

Authors of the month Karen Cumming and Pat Milne share book marketing advice that helped sell thousands of copies

Our authors of the month share insights on which marketing efforts led to the best results of their guide on navigating Ontario’s long-term care system

Karen Cumming and Patricia Milne are sisters who guided their 98-year-old mother, Verna, through Ontario’s long-term care system. They found themselves lost in a confusing maze of paperwork, equipment rentals, health care workers and medication. It was scary and unfamiliar territory where they felt alone. After navigating Ontario’s long-term care system, they wrote and published The Indispensable Survival Guide to Ontario’s Long-Term Care System.

Cumming and Milne have been featured on the CBC, Global News Radio and in the Hamilton Spectator. They have been interviewed on multiple podcasts as well as by influencers and bloggers on various social media platforms. In addition to online retailers, their book is available to purchase at various brick and mortar bookstores and over 100 copies of the book are available in libraries across Ontario. The sisters’ marketing efforts are paying off. Their book has sold thousands of copies this year alone and they are just getting started. Read the rest of the article to hear which marketing efforts yielded the best results as well as their advice to authors.

1. Tell us about yourselves.

Karen: I’m a freelance journalist, health promoter and teacher with a long career in radio and TV news.

Pat: I am a retired teacher living in southern Ontario with my husband.

2. What inspired you to write your book?

Karen:  The lack of guidance available to families whose elderly loved ones are heading into long-term care. It’s crazy!  Someone had to do something.

Pat: The frustration of navigating the long-term care (LTC) system with inadequate help.

3. Describe your book in a sentence.

Karen:  It’s the survival guide we never had, providing practical tips to help you and your family be proactive and prepared for the decisions that may lie ahead.

Pat: Our book is a tool to simplify the process of investigating long-term care in Ontario.

4. What are you most proud of about your book?

Karen:  The lessons we’ve been able to pass on to other families so that they might never feel the stress and frustration that we did.

Pat: Our intent was to help people. The testimonials we continue to receive are proof of our success.

5. Your book has been selling really well. You’ve been featured in major media outlets across Canada and have your book stocked in numerous bookstores and libraries. Tell us about how well your book has been doing.

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Author of the Month Tellwell Books

Indigenous History Month: Honouring First Nations, Inuit and Métis authors

June is National Indigenous History Month in Canada. It’s a time to reflect upon and learn the history, contributions, heritage, and diversity of Indigenous peoples in Canada and their role in shaping the country. First Nations, Inuit and Métis Peoples have their distinct histories, and within each group, their unique stories.

Tellwell is celebrating Indigenous History Month by showcasing our talented and courageous Indigenous authors whose stories strengthen our social fabric, enrich our culture and understanding of history. Thank you for telling your stories and sharing it with the world. 


Karen Chaboyer

They Called Me 33: Reclaiming Ingo-Waabigwan

Karen Chaboyer is an Ojibwa mother and grandmother from Rainy River First Nations, a community in northwestern Ontario. She is proudly admired by her children, who have witnessed her transformation as she worked through layers of shame and learned to embrace her identity. A second-generation survivor of residential school, Karen now shares her experiences with audiences throughout the Toronto area, where she now resides. Karen’s goal is to educate people on the extent to which the tragedies of the residential school system have impacted individuals, families, communities, and entire cultures to this day.

Grieving is the way to work through our losses and past traumas; compassion for ourselves and each other is how we move forward. Only then can we be victorious.

Watch Karen’s story on the CBC here. Learn more about They Called Me 33: Reclaiming Ingo-Waabigwan.


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Author of the Month

Children’s author and illustrator Fred Smith on creating cool animated videos of his book highlighting the unique father and son bond

Calgary-based children’s author, Fred Smith, is originally from Santa Maria, California, where he served in the United States Marine Corps, rising to the rank of sergeant. As his military career was winding down, he met his wife and moved to Canada to start a family. He retrained as a graphic designer and photographer. His adventures in fatherhood inspired him to write and illustrate his first children’s book, My Daddy’s Legs. Fred Smith is using his artistic talents to create animated videos of his book on his YouTube Channel, Uncle Freddie’s Courtyard.

1. What inspired you to write My Daddy’s Legs?

I was inspired by playing games with my son and it reminded me how I used to play with my grandpa and uncles.

2. Did you have a number of ideas for a children’s book? How did you decide on this one? 

I had one book idea before this; however, it was too ambitious for my skill level because it would have required its own app to be produced.

3. What are you most proud of in your book?

I am most proud of the rhymes and the fact that I illustrated the book myself.

4. How did you learn to illustrate and animate videos?

I got a diploma in graphic design in 2015, so I mastered Adobe Photoshop, Illustrator, After Effects and Premiere Pro. All of those tools talk to each other and allow me the opportunity to do something different.

5. It’s nice to see more books highlighting the unique relationship between father and son, especially with Father’s Day this month. What was your son’s reaction to the book? Does he love reading the story at bedtime?  

My son was excited to see the book but I don’t think he understands that every kid isn’t featured in a book. He knows that he is the lead character of the story and points out what he’s doing on every page.

6. What do you enjoy most about being a dad?

What I enjoy most about being a dad is seeing the world through the kids’ eyes when they experience something new.

7. What have you been doing to market and promote your book?

To market the book, I created a website as well as a YouTube channel called Uncle Freddie’s Courtyard, and I actively post new and original content on Instagram and my Facebook author page.

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Author of the Month

Psychologist, professor and author Ronna Jevne on how to cultivate and find hope during the Covid crisis

TELLWELL APRIL AUTHOR OF THE MONTH RONNA JEVNE

Hope is a fascinating phenomenon. A day with it guarantees nothing; a day without it is very difficult. It can’t be injected. It can’t be x-rayed and yet we know when our hope is down.

Ronna Jevne has been a psychologist, researcher, university professor and leading authority on hope. She is a founding member of the Canadian Association of Psychosocial Oncology and the Hope Foundation of Alberta, a research centre associate with the University of Alberta whose mission is to explore and apply the phenomena of hope. She is the author of several books, including the recently published Finding Hope: Ways of seeing life in a brighter light. Jevne, and her co-author, James Miller, invite new understandings about hope, how to foster hope in our own lives and offer strategies for finding and practicing hope.

1. Can you tell us a bit about yourself?

I laugh a lot, love deeply, and have a thirst for adventure. I believe life is not a problem; it is an experience to be lived. My pen and my camera are constant companions. I am passionate about photography, and I manage to stay fit while wishing it didn’t require exercise.

I loved every day of my life as a psychologist and professor.  I have had the privilege of working in education, health care, corrections, and academia. Over the years, I have seen extraordinary courage in the midst of life’s most serious challenges. 

I stepped back from the mainstream of professional life to be with my husband in the last chapter of his life.

I live now on eight acres of heaven, share my life with my husband, Hal Martin. Hal and I are lifelong friends who had amazing partners. In a brief window, we both lost our spouses. We now share our lives.

Life has given me new opportunities on all fronts. In this new chapter of my professional life, writing is central. My role in the Prairie Wind Writing Center, a partnership with my present husband Hal, is to take the lead in designing workshops/retreats, writing books, and promoting therapeutic writing with clients and professionals.

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2. Can you summarize what your book is about in a few sentences?

Finding Hope: Ways of Seeing Life in a Brighter Light (2nd edition)

Finding Hope: Ways to see life in a brighter light is a shortcut to hope. After an introduction to the value and qualities of hope authors Jevne & Miller offer time tested strategies to enhancing your hope. Each strategy is a one-page explanation and illustration of a “how to”. Written in a personal style and accented with quotations and photographs, Finding Hope is not only about hope, it is an experience of hope. 

3. You are a leading authority on hope through your work as a researcher, university professor and psychologist. What is it about hope that fascinates you?

Hope is a fascinating phenomenon. A day with it guarantees nothing; a day without it is very difficult. It can’t be injected. It can’t be x-rayed and yet we know when our hope is down. It is different than faith, coping, or resilience. People who have hope approach challenges differently than those who feel less hope. They achieve more, handle uncertainty with more confidence and have better health and well-being, Yet, hope was until the last couple of decades was virtually ignored by the scientific community.

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Author of the Month Uncategorized

Toronto-area doctor and author Lili Naghdi on adapting her family practice and author work in the face of COVID-19

1. Can you tell us a bit about yourself? 

I am a family physician and researcher practicing in Vaughan, Ontario and I published my debut novel, On Loving, last year. I was born and raised in Iran and continued my medical education and research after moving to Canada with my husband and daughter in 1996. My particular interests are women’s and mental health.

2. What inspired you to write On Loving?

I’ve been a huge fan of literature for as long as I can remember, and one of my dreams as a young girl growing up in Iran was to become an author one day! Persian poetry has always been intriguing for me, and Forugh Farrokhzad, the late contemporary Iranian poet, who was also a women’s rights activist, remained a great inspiration to me since the day I first started reading her works. “On Loving” is the title of one of her famous poems written in Farsi. 

My occupation has been another source of inspiration for writing “On Loving.” Working throughout the years as a family physician enabled me to explore the effects of different basic emotions on people’s physical and mental health and to assess the role these feelings play in controlling people’s interpersonal relationships. I finally decided to share my experiences in both fields by creating “On Loving” and focusing on a young woman’s complicated life journey, a turbulent journey full of twists and turns, which ultimately helped this strong yet fragile accomplished woman achieve self-awareness. 

I trust that literature can act as a sturdy bridge connecting different cultures, so by using this bridge and the pages of “On Loving,” I introduced my readers to the rich Iranian culture and heritage, its ancient history, and, more importantly, real Iranian people through the eyes of On Loving’s main protagonist, an adopted Iranian-American physician. 

3. What is the main message you share in your book? 

I’ve always been amazed by how we, as human beings, react in our unique and different ways in similar situations or circumstances in life. Many of us never know who we really are and what we really stand for until it is too late. In other words, we may never get to know ourselves, our strengths, our weaknesses, our true potentials until the last day we live! Understanding the importance of achieving self-awareness – most possibly the hardest task to succeed in life- through working on our pure feelings and emotions, was one my main messages to reflect upon and share with my readers. 

You may remember Ayn Rand’s famous quote from The Fountainhead: “To say ‘I love you’ one must know first how to say the ‘I.'” In fact, for many of us, most “emotions,” such as love, hatred, jealousy, joy, trust, sadness, … are so difficult to process and act upon in proper ways. It is essential to understand where they originate from and how they can morbidly affect our behavior, mental, and physical health.

To say ‘I love you’ one must know first how to say the ‘I’.

Ayn Rand

4. How has your work as a physician impacted the story in On Loving

As a family physician with a keen interest in women’s and mental health,  I tried to draw more attention to the issues that I’ve found more prevalent and profoundly disturbing for most people. Common conditions such as depression, anxiety disorders, PTSD, suicide, homicide, bereavement, SIDS (Sudden Infant Death Syndrome), kidney failure/transplant, breech delivery, breast cancer, domestic violence, …  were among the topics discussed in this novel.

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Author of the Month

How an anxiety attack turned into inspiration for Jennifer Renieris’ first children’s book, Hawk Eyes

It can be in moments of darkness and fear that we find the inspiration to turn our life around. An instance that shifts our perspective in such a profound way urges us to forge a new path. It was while struggling with debilitating anxiety that author Jennifer Renieris experienced such an ‘aha’ moment. A hawk landed in her yard, and the symbolism of this simple moment shifted her perspective on life, providing the inspiration for her first children’s book, Hawk Eyes. Read about Jennifer’s inspiring journey and insight into the world of children’s publishing in our February author of the month feature.

The hawk’s ability to fly high, and keen eyesight, allows it to see the bigger picture, a new point of view, and a different perspective.

1. Can you tell us a bit about yourself? 

I grew up and still live in Southern Ontario.

Since high school, I have only ever been self-employed in various avenues, from agriculture to green energy. 

I had never viewed myself as a creative person. From my first ideas, to writing, to taking the leap to publish, each phase was a baby step up to the completion of book one, Hawk Eyes. Books two and three have unfolded with the ease of a new found love in the creative and productive process. 

I enjoy living with my blended family which includes three children, two cats, and a puppy. The puppy, Daisy, was an impulse buy while riding the high of my first book being finished and romanticizing my character of Aunt B, the Westie. 

Our home is supportive and, besides the critters, very peaceful. This supportive, stress-free environment has allowed me to open up to this new path and self-discovery. I have a house full of like-minded people to bounce ideas off. 

I love to travel. It is a great way to learn about other people and cultures.  Life has so much to share and to savour. 

2. What inspired you to become a children’s author? What was the inspiration behind Hawk Eyes?

I have worn many hats over the years. From managing my family to managing multiple businesses. Most of my time has been spent just getting &#$! done. Being stretched too thin paired with an unhealthy relationship can have its repercussions, and it did. I began having debilitating anxiety. I had no choice but to finally pay attention to my self-care. To feed and settle my spirit, I began journalling.

It was during one of our usually long winters, as I sat journaling, trying to abate an anxiety attack and praying for a reality shift from a particular situation, that a hawk landed in my yard right in front of me, then left. I had never seen a hawk in my yard before this. My curiosity was triggered, I needed to know more about hawks. Mainly I wanted to know if they were known to fly away with household pets. One of the fascinating articles that popped up was about hawk symbolism. I came to learn that hawk symbolism, among many other aspects, included perspective. This was a huge ‘aha’ moment for me. The hawk’s ability to fly high, and keen eyesight, allows it to see the bigger picture, a new point of view, and a different perspective. “Look at the BIG picture and remember why you are doing what you are doing,” I heard loud and clear. This was a huge ‘AHA’ moment for me; I felt incredible relief. 

How amazing would this be if I could share this experience, translate it into something children could relate to, I thought.

If you change the way you look at something, it can change what you see and can change how you feel about it.

I used this experience to challenge myself to tackle something creative. My intention was to take this ‘aha’ moment, using animal symbolism, and translate it into a story that children could relate to.

3. What message are you sharing in each of your three books? What do you hope children will walk away with?

In book one, Hawk Eyes, I use the symbolism of a hawk flying high, seeing a different point of view, a bigger picture, to share the message of perspective. If we change the way we look at something, it can change what we see and can change the way we feel about it. 

In book two, A Buck and a Puck, I use the symbolism of a buck, a male deer. He is very strong, yet he is gentle and graceful. His grace and kindness are his strengths. I wanted the reader to see that showing kindness to others, especially when we are frustrated, shows how strong we are on the inside. 

Book three, My Fine Feathers, is about embracing our uniqueness that shines from within. I use the Scarlet Macaw as my feature creature. Her bright primary colours scream at us to be unapologetically bold and beautiful just as we are. 

The main message I hope resonates with people sharing my stories, is that we always have a choice. We have a choice in how we look at any situation, a choice in how we treat others and a choice to celebrate our uniqueness, and that of others. This is empowering.

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