Category : Author of the Month

Author of the Month Book Marketing Tellwell Books

How a cheeky, real-life pelican inspired a book about cleaning up our oceans – Tellwell’s July author of the month Renee James

Renée James is the talented Australian children’s author of Patroosh, the Cheeky Pelican. Her book was featured as one of the best-reviewed books by IndieReader in May, she has been reviewed on a number of book blogs, and has been featured on the Clarence Valley Independent!

Patroosh, the Cheeky Pelican touches on the impact of ocean pollution, such as rubbish, on wildlife – an important theme in line with “Clean Beaches Week” that took place earlier this month July 1-7.

Renée’s ‘monkey see, monkey do’ attitude has inspired her to pursue her dreams and become an author! Learn more about Renée and discover her advice for authors!

PATROOSH, THE CHEEKY PELICAN is an illustrated children’s story that hits all the marks: appealing and memorable central characters, high entertainment value, and its function as a powerful educational tool.

~Amanda Ellison for IndieReader
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Author of the Month Tellwell Books

A Tribute to Albert Etzerza – Father, Husband, Best-Selling Author, Residential School Survivor

Thanks to his family, Albert Etzerza’s new book became a three-time Amazon Best Seller, bringing more awareness for the trauma created by the Canadian Residential School system

Trigger warning: this post mentions sexual assault on a minor.

At Tellwell, we have the privilege of working with authors from all over the world, each one with their own unique story, giving us the chance to see so many different facets of life. Recently, we had the pleasure of working with the family of Albert Etzerza, who realized Albert’s dream of becoming an author.

At the end of 2020, Albert’s wife, Rose and her five sons published Albert’s book, The Good, The Bad and The Innocent: The Tragic Reality Behind Residential Schools, an Albert Etzerza Story. It was one of Albert’s dreams to have his story published, and they helped him accomplish it after he passed away. Since publishing, they’ve gone on to host book giveaways, run social media campaigns, and gain mentions in local media across British Columbia. As a team, Rose and her sons helped Albert’s book hit the Amazon Best Seller list in three different categories: History of First Nations in Canada, Canadian Biographies, and First Nations in Canada.

Their teamwork, creativity, and drive are just a few of the reasons why we are featuring Albert as Tellwell’s author of the month!

We love celebrating our authors’ success, but it is the content of Albert’s book, and the fact that he bravely shared his story, that inspires us most of all.

Albert Etzerza at age 10. Image from The Good, The Bad and The Innocent: The Tragic Reality Behind Residential Schools, an Albert Etzerza Story

Albert Etzerza is a survivor of the Lower Post Indian Residential School. He was only six-years old when he began attending Lower Post, which was part of Canada’s Indian Residential School system, a system rooted in colonization and the oppression and killing of Indigenous people. In 1991, Albert spoke out about the abuse he endured throughout his years spent at Lower Post, including the fact that he was repeatedly molested by a school supervisor. Albert eventually took the Canadian government to court for the abuse he was subjected to and the trauma he was left to deal with. He then went on to write The Good, The Bad, and The Innocent to share his story and offer people a look at the tragic reality behind residential schools in Canada; and, to help other residential school survivors heal and find hope.

We were fortunate to speak with Rose, Albert’s wife, to learn more about Albert’s story and hear how the book is being received across Canada.

Don’t miss the chance to read an excerpt from The Good, The Bad, and The Innocent at the end of this post!

Tell us a bit about yourself.

My name is Rose, Tahltan/Tlingit First Nation, artist and a mother of five boys. 

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Author of the Month

How Miami-based children’s author Jennifer Segarra gained traction for her children’s book!

For May’s author of the month, we are celebrating Miami-based author, Jennifer S. Segarra!

Over the last few months, Jennifer has successfully been featured on a number of influential #bookstagram pages like @the_bookish_mind and @nerdybibliophilee, interviewed by notable outlets like KidlioMag, Children’s Literature and the Reading With Your Kids podcast, and has connected with readers all over the world through her social media!

Author Jennifer S. Segarra with her children’s hit – El Lechón Choncho otherwise known as Choncho the Pig

Tell us a bit about yourself!

My name is Jennifer S. Segarra. I was born and raised in Miami, Florida. My parents immigrated to this country when they were young. My father is from Cuba and my mother is from Puerto Rico but also half Filipino.

I am a married mother of two beautiful children, and have an Italian Mastiff fur baby. I am bilingual, speaking both English and Spanish. My husband is from Cuba and we have been married for 15 years.  

I love to cook, travel, discover new things, and LOVE reading books!

What inspired you to write El Lechón Choncho otherwise known as Choncho the Pig?

Since I was a young girl, I always loved reading, and this may sound quite weird but I loved being given assignments where I needed to write book reports, essays and stories in my own words. However, my mother always told me the story, since I was a little girl, of her favorite family pet pig named Choncho. I always told her she needed to make this a children’s book.

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Author of the Month Tellwell Books

Poo with a View – How an alpine outhouse experience became a top-selling book!

One of Tellwell’s best-selling books in 2020 by author Gavin Boutet

Be persistent. Be patient.

Gavin Boutet, author of Poo with a View

Gavin Boutet’s coffee table book, or perhaps more appropriately bathroom book, Poo with a View: High Alpine Shitters of the Canadian Rockies, showcases some of the most remarkable views in the Rocky Mountains….from outhouses. The unique concept was inspired by Gavin’s time working for the Alpine Club of Canada servicing these remote locations. He began photographing the, rather, unique and stunning places to go to the loo.

The quirky humor book has been featured on three national news outlets – the CBC, Global News and CTV news. The book has sold thousands of copies, and was Tellwell’s best-selling book in 2020! As our Tellwell April author of the month, we asked Gavin to share the secrets of his success and his all-time favourite poos with a view:)

Tell us a bit about yourself.

I was born in Collingwood, Ontario and moved to the Bow Valley in 1999 in pursuit of skiing champagne powder. I have been playing drums for over 30 years and have developed an addiction to fly fishing in the last five. 

What inspired you to write Poo with a View?

It was strictly a collection of photographs to start, but as the project took shape, I wrote a small amount for each “chapter” or location. It’s a simple toilet humour book, meant for the bathroom or coffee table, so there’s not a huge focus on the writing.

Tell us about the process and adventures in finding these outhouses. How did you find them? 

It was an opportunity working with the Alpine Club of Canada that led me to some of these locations. I was employed as a hut services worker when I came up with the concept. We were responsible for the helicopter long-lining work that went into servicing these remote locations, including flying out the full outhouse barrels, or “honey buckets” as we liked to call them.

Did you visit all of them or were some recommendations from friends? 

All of the photographs in the book are taken by me, so I have seen all (and used most too).

I had no idea that a funny little project like this book would actually make me money.

Gavin Boutet, author of Poo with a View

What are your top three poos with a view? 

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Author of the Month

March Author of the Month: Pearl Gregor shows us how to embrace our Divine Feminine for Women’s History Month

Allow me to introduce you to Pearl Gregor, Tellwell’s March author of the month. She is a Dream Worker, three time self-published author, and absolute force of a woman. The Tellwell team had the pleasure of working with Pearl on her three books: Authoring Self, Cauldron of the Feminine, and I, The Woman, Planted the Tree. Each book is a pillar in the Dreams Along the Way series, where Pearl helps readers sift through their dreams in order to find freedom as an individual and wholeness in body, mind and soul.

We caught up with Pearl to see what wisdom she can offer from publishing three books – she has a lot to share! And, to learn more about her work in empowering women. It’s Women’s History Month, and we’re celebrating women all month.

Tell us a bit about yourself.

I was born at the end of the war in 1945 and raised with my six brothers in homestead country, northern Alberta. My mom was very fond of saying, “Educate a woman, educate the world.” I became an educator, administrator, provincial government education consultant and along the way, a radical feminist. In 2008, I completed my doctorate “The Apple and the Talking Snake: Feminist Dream Reading and the Subjunctive Curriculum.”

I am mother to three and have six grandsons and one granddaughter.

I live on my farm with 22 head of cattle and my Australian Shepherd, Buddy.

What inspires you as an author?

I continue to be inspired by the faces of women who carry on, despite abuse, centuries of being ignored, left out, and refused acceptance as equal partners in the world. Women lead, inspire, teach and mother. During the Covid crisis, it is the women who continue to provide cheap labour for essential services like food. The janitorial staff in hospitals, the aides, the grocery clerks and so many other low-paying jobs that keep a patriarchal culture intact! And when they retire, the poverty continues. CPP eligibility relies on being employed and receiving a salary.

There are dozens and dozens of reasons for women to feel rage. To be angry. It’s the subtle yet constant drip, drip, drip of daily sexism that both wears me out and inspires me. And let me just say, the continuous belittlement of our fears and our tears? How cunning! How intimidating! And so, just recently, I blew my teapot! The steam rises. I speak out more now than ever. To quote Maya Angelou, “And still I rise.”

Women of the world, until we dig up the cultural roots of our own repression and our own complicity in silence, change will continue at the same pace as continental drift.

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Author of the Month

February’s author of the month – Poetry author Utanu Maa’s lessons in resilience

For February’s author of the month we are celebrating Utanu Maa! Utanu came into Tellwell without any prior publishing experience, and with little knowledge on how she could market her book. Over the last 6 months, Utanu has embraced her new role of authorpreneur and has successfully been featured on a number of blogs, received a beautiful review from IndieReader and is connecting with poets and readers all over the world through her social media.

“Utanu Maa’s RISE AND FALL OF MY BELOVED is a short biographical poetry collection, focused heavily on the themes of grief, mourning, recovery and resilience. The story is deeply personal, it speaks for countless individuals who are voiceless and marginalized. Nevertheless, the writing never seethes with anger at the injustice and unfairness. Instead, it is full of empathy, understanding and acceptance, and may be a cathartic experience for some readers, especially those trying to heal from trauma.” – Archita Mittra for IndieReader

1. Tell us a bit about yourself.

I am Utanu Maa, also known as Utanu Adele Mafandala, my birth name. I published my debut book of poetry last year using a pen name, Utanu Maa, just to keep it short on the book. I live in Toronto, Ontario and worked as a public servant within the Ontario Court of Justice. I had previously lived many years in Montreal where I migrated from the Democractic Republic of Congo (DRC) in 1991. I was born and raised in DRC where I studied French Literature and Civil Law, and pursued education in Paralegal studies and Fashion Management after moving to Canada. I am a proud mother of a young man who is building his career as a Fine Art artist after graduating from the Memorial University of Newfoundland Fine Art/Visual and Technology last year.

2. What inspired you to write your book?

I needed to heal from the profound grief and loss I carried after the death of  my only sibling and brother from my mother. I lost my brother to HIV/AIDS. He suffered a lot, and it was painful to him, and to me as a sister to witness my loved one going through a myriad of pains and health complications until he died. I cared for him for the last two months of his life. I was deeply sad and devastated. 

I grieved from April 2019 until April 2020; I felt weary and burdened, I desperately needed to talk to someone to share and ease my pain. But Covid-19 had forced the entirety of humanity into confinement. My anxiety, along with everyone elses, increased and I felt so lonely inside and out.  

My son was away for studies at Memorial University of Newfoundland. In solitude, the only voice you can hear is yours inside of you or your own murmure, and the only person you talk to is your own double. So, my only rescue was to write and pour all my grief onto a paper to start a journey to resilience, gratitude, and healing.

3. How have your personal experiences influenced your book?

In my book, I expose not only the pain and suffering caused by the HIV virus but also the shame, stigmas, discrimination, rejection, and isolation that our society inflicts to people living with HIV. So, I write about a virus that is still active, still very infectious, and deadly to bring awareness for protection, inspiration for resilience in hard times, aspiration for a healthy and compassionate society, a testimony and reflection about the voiceless and vulnerable people in our society. 

Each poem of my book depicts a true story and personal experiences.  I am the witness of the events happening throughout the journey that my readers embark in my book. I wrote about what happened to my brother, from his childhood as a vulnerable orphan infant, marginalized but resilient to survive and grow, to his rise as an accomplished and successful engineer, and to his fall and death as a HIV/AIDS patient. 

My writing is also a journey into learning to express gratitude despite challenges because life is a blessing.  Our life is filled with many blessings, big or small, but we tend to forget to count them when facing hardship, struggles. One morning as I was weeping, thinking of my brother’s struggles in childhood as a vulnerable and neglected six months old orphan infant when my mother died, recalling the bullies he endured because he did not speak earlier like other kids and was labelled mentality retarded and incapable of succeeding at school, and counting the pain, sufferings, shame and rejection he faced and how he beat all odds and became an accomplished Master in Structure and Building Engineer, a still small voice stormed me inside and spoke to me in this way: “count instead the blessings of his life and heal from that because death is not a punishment”. 

From that moment, my brother’s death became the beginning of a new life in everlasting peace.  My grief taught me to express gratitude, and with gratitude, I found resilience to overcome and heal. These are the two main lessons in my book: resilience and gratitude to overcome grief, and heal.

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Author of the Month

Award winning author Kathleen Boucher’s practical advice for new authors! – Tellwell’s January author of the month

Our January author of the month, Kathleen Boucher, is an award winning author, certified lifestyle coach, a certified neurocoach, a certified stress and wellness consultant, and a registered nurse! Kathleen’s book 9 Ways to Empower Tweens #Lifeskills is a self help book for tweens, teens and adults alike! The book focuses on practical life skills. These life skills include how to have more confidence when presenting in class, the importance of work ethic, a simple writing technique to help deal with anger, and more. There are exercises at the end of each chapter that tweens can use to integrate what they’ve learned. Kathleen has been featured in many articles and blogs, on top of receiving high praise from industry professionals like IndieReader!

1. Tell us a bit about yourself

I am a registered nurse working in an Intensive Care Unit full time, an award-winning children’s author, lifestyle coach, neurocoach and stress & wellness consultant. Want to learn more about Kathleen, click here! 

In 2014, I wondered if there was something else I could do to help people. I prayed for guidance. Two weeks later, I remember sitting bolt upright at 0300 am in the morning.  The voice inside my head indicated that I should write children’s books. So I did.

2. What inspired you to write your book?

I want to help parents and teachers with techniques that helped me raise my children.  I am told that adults find these strategies useful as well. Bonus!

3. How have your personal experiences influenced your book?

My son was very active and had a hard time focusing on homework when he was in elementary school. I did some research that showed that with intense focus, one could bend time and get more done. For example, have you ever crammed for an exam and have gotten a lot of studying done? 

Before we started his homework I made sure my son was rested. The idea was for him to do his least favorite subject first, and get it out of the way. I put a timer at the end of the table and made it fun by seeing how much he could get done in five minutes. Once he finished what he disliked doing, the rest of the homework flowed because he was focusing on subjects he loved. 

4. What were some of the more significant lessons you learned writing and publishing a book?

  • Write what inspires you. 
  • The first draft is only the beginning. Don’t be afraid of rewrites. In fact, expect to do more than one rewrite. 
  • Writing an outline really helped organize my thoughts. Figure out what works for you.
  • Take the time to create a rapport with an illustrator so that he or she understands your vision. Then allow them the creative freedom to be fabulous. 
  • Accept constructive criticism with grace. Step back and look at your work from a different perspective. The new angle may make your work better.
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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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