Category : Author of the Month

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Sci-fi series author Barry Fellinger shares tips for securing media spotlights and in-person events

Blast off into the inspiring true adventures of one of Tellwell’s sci-fi/children’s authors

Start putting words to paper or screen, even if they are only ideas, maybe just a few sentences. It’s quite possible the more you write, the more the story will start writing itself, or at least help you write it.

Barry Fellinger

Today we have the pleasure of interviewing an incredibly hard-working author and comic book enthusiast, Barry M. Fellinger. Residing in St. Thomas, Ontario, Barry not only works as a director in health care but also teaches leadership courses and seminars. His latest book, The Not so True Adventures of Brandon, Josh, and Adam, reached #1 on Amazon’s Children’s Time Travel Books chart. He is currently on the promotional trail with interviews and appearances in southwestern Ontario. We’re excited to learn more about his journey as an author and his tips for finding inspiration.

Your newest book, The Not so True Adventures of Brandon, Josh, and Adam, is part of a series. What prompted you to create a series instead of standalone stories?

I can’t honestly say it started out that way, but when I ended the first book on a cliffhanger, it kind of demanded a sequel some day. During an email conversation with my Tellwell project manager, Sem, about the possibility of at least the two books possibly being part of a series, we (actually he) came up with the suggestion “True Adventure Series,” which totally resonated with me.  The new book also ends on a cliffhanger, so that lends itself to another book in the series too.

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Author of the Month

Heather Shtuka honours her missing son’s legacy through her book “Missing From Me”

The power of social media combined with the relentless devotion of a mother’s love has brought tremendous success to Heather Shtuka’s Missing From Me

Heather Shtuka penned her #1 bestseller, Missing From Me, after her son Ryan went missing. In this insightful interview, she opens up about her grief, her son’s legacy, the power of social media for community-building, and how her story has gone on to support other families who have missing loved ones through her organization, the Free Bird Project.

I will never understand the concept that there is a reason this has happened. There can be no reason that makes sense that my son is not here living the life of his choosing.  But I believe strongly there can be a purpose.

To get started, tell us a bit about yourself.

My name is Heather Shtuka. I was born in Comox, BC, where I lived with my father, mother, and older brother for the first six years of my life. My father was in the air force, and when I finished kindergarten, we made the first of many moves to Trenton, Ontario. A far cry from the ocean waters and rainy weather I was used to, but still, I loved living in small-town Ontario. Despite a brief move to Ottawa, it was in Trenton that I graduated high school. Soon after, my dad made his final move with the air force and chose Edmonton, AB, for his retirement. Feeling the need for a change and wanting to remain close to my parents, I followed soon after. Even the chilly winters here could not mask the warmth and genuineness that I felt from the people living in this province. One of them became my husband, Scott.  We met, fell in love, and married in seven short months.  Looking back now, I can only imagine the fear our parents felt at the rush in which we began our relationship. But I knew that in Scott I had found a kindred soul.  Twenty-eight years later, I still marvel at my good fortune. 

I have held many titles that describe me as daughter, sister, friend, and wife. But my favourite and perhaps most fulfilling has always been a mom.  I have been blessed to have had three imperfectly perfect children, Ryan John Marcus, Jordyn Delaney, and Julianna Michelle. I was a stay-at-home mom for most of Ryan and Jordyn’s childhood. During that time, I did carpools, hot-lunch programs and countless volunteer hours at their schools. Then, three years after the birth of our third baby, I ventured back into the workforce, accepting a position with WestJet Airlines. I loved the hustle and bustle of the airport and the people I worked with. I honestly never thought I would leave. I did not anticipate the loss of my son would lead me to other less tangible yet still significant holes that would never be filled. But perhaps the adage that when one door closes, another opens is correct. I completed my degree in public relations in the years since Ryan’s disappearance and embarked on a career in communications and advocacy. I also wrote my book, Missing From Me.

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Discover your purpose and find fulfillment with Azim Jamal’s latest book, Spark

Learn from the CEO of Corporate Sufi Worldwide and unlock your full potential

A dedicated person is guided by self-awareness and purpose, while a workaholic is guided by the frenzy of activity for the sake of activity. 

– Azim Jamal
Instagram @realazimjamal

Azim Jamal is a well-known figure in the world of personal and professional development, inspiring and empowering individuals across the globe to achieve their full potential. As the CEO and founder of Corporate Sufi Worldwide, he has helped countless people to find balance, purpose, and fulfillment in their personal and professional lives. With a dedicated following around the world, Azim’s expertise is widely recognized for its ability to help people make positive and lasting changes in their lives. In his latest book, Spark, he sets out to help young professionals discover their true purpose and find meaning in their work, offering valuable insights and practical advice to guide them on their journey.

Spark is your tenth book. How does it stand apart from the corporate Sufi series?

This is a fable, thus different from most of my other books. The only other book written as a fable was What You Seek is Seeking You (WYSISY), co-authored with Brian Tracy. In WYSISY, the underlying emphasis was on attraction, whereas in SPARK the underlying emphasis is on significance and SPARK. SPARK is an acronym which encompasses S: service, P: purpose, A: attraction, R: resilience and K: knowing. None of the other nine books cover all of these five elements together in one book. 

What sparked you to write this particular book?

I have been working with successful people for the past 25 years, and I have learned that they are successful outwardly; however, they still struggle to find purpose, fulfilment, inner happiness, and balance.

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Author of the Month

Authorship, toy manufacturing, and living your dreams: author of the month Monika Blichar

Polish-Canadian author Monika Blichar shares advice for aspiring creatives and provides insights on the people and places that have influenced her the most.

I have always wanted to write my own book and I still have some very detailed books I created from elementary school on my bookshelf!

Monika Blichar

Monika Blichar wears many hats. She is both a congenial creative and a goal-oriented entrepreneur eager to create growth and opportunities for herself and others. Monika’s latest project, My Magical Gnome, provides wholesome entertainment to children while fostering creativity and a sense of wonder. In addition to talking about her latest project, Monika also shares her experiences as an artist and entrepreneur.

The first time Tellwell readers saw you was as the illustrator of Murray The Dragon by Cristina Petersen. What sparked the move towards publishing your own story?

I loved working on the artwork for Murray the Dragon, and it was a great way to start learning about publishing, as the author, Cristina, is a good friend of mine who I have known since high school. It was great fun to work with a friend and a talented writer to launch our first real published book together. I have always wanted to write my own book and I still have some very detailed books I created from elementary school on my bookshelf! It dawned on me just before Christmas 2019 that I needed to launch my own book. I feverishly came home from the art studio and told my family all about my idea. For the next two years, I focused a lot on writing, illustrating and bringing to life my own story, which is inspired by my childhood and our hometown of Wroclaw, Poland.

What inspired the story of My Magical Gnome?

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Author of the Month

‘The words in this book are my battle cry’ says Author of the Month: Blaise Hunter

Through a brave story of reflection, trauma healing, and heroism, one author blazes a trail toward better communication

November 15, 2022 / by Ben Graham

This month we celebrate Blaise Hunter, an engaging and insightful author who has turned adversity into empathy and grown as a writer and leader. More than an author, Blaise is also an international speaker, podcast host, copywriter, fertility expert, and certified human rights advocate. A breaker of chains, she tackles the realities of issues women face, from low confidence and lack of identity to social injustices. In 2020 she won the Influencer Award at the Canadian Women of Inspiration Awards.

I am continually birthing my purpose. It is my vision to see others fulfill their dreams as well. – Blaise Hunter

What inspired you to write Captain Communicator?

In all honesty, the meaning behind my work is to stay alive. I wrote this book because I refuse to wither and die emotionally, spiritually, and physically. Disease, miscarriages, trauma, pain, and heartache don’t define me. By reconnecting the communication portals, I starve a rare autoimmune condition and inject healing into my inner and outer world. My book is a deliberate provocation to trigger us forward. Communication is connection. We must connect to the nemesis and let it propel us into growth. We can all relate to experiencing trauma, miscommunication, conflict, and illnesses. My vision was to take the reader along my healing journey and inspire others to heal the dis-ease in their lives by exploring various aspects of communication. Captain Communicator demonstrates the importance of being hungry and desperate to live. Benjamin Franklin is attributed with saying, “Most people die at twenty-five and don’t get buried until seventy-five.” Emotionally not dying is the key to my not dying physically. The words in this book are my battle cry. Vulnerability, humility, courage, and a relentless spirit provoke connection.

Captain Communicator is your second book. As an author, what type of growth did you experience between the first and second book?

Great question. I see exponential growth in my writing skills and confidence with this book. We all began somewhere, and I loved my raw, blind ambition with Heroine: Embrace Your Flaws & Own Your Awesome, but with experience comes wisdom. I have acquired many tools and strategies but saw the most growth with my actual execution of the book launch. Knowing what I want and advocating for the vision to be birthed indicates a blossoming. I also challenged myself to be even braver with my words and vulnerability. Heroine was a courageous step forward in discovering freedom and power. Captain Communicator highlights a woman who has come into her own and is the hero of her story. She still has giants in her life, but she co-exists with them like a true protagonist. I am proud of each stage and how they’ve shaped me into a seasoned writer. 

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Author of the Month

Lisa Bournelis empowers children to be their own heroes while shining a light on mental health

Inspired by her child’s experiences with OCD during the pandemic, Lisa Bournelis pens Louie and the Dictator to empower those living with mental illness.

Your story is gold.  Your vulnerability will help others in ways you may not have realized or imagined.

Lisa Bournelis is a mom, taekwondo black belt, healthcare change consultant, and former humanitarian aid worker. She has served all over the world, from Africa to the Balkans to Afghanistan. Inspired by her child’s experiences with OCD during the pandemic, she wanted to uplift children struggling with anxiety during this extraordinary time, by showing that they are the heroes of their own stories, and by sharing the hopeful message that adjustments to the way we think can transform our circumstances.

What inspired you to write Louie and the Dictator?

Like many parents of children with additional needs, the pandemic presented an additional layer of isolation. As access to resources and supports were cut off for the most vulnerable children, and as anxieties were heightened by the continued uncertainty, I wanted to provide a message of hope and inspiration for other anxious and neurodiverse children based on my son’s experiences.  

From this time of darkness, the uplifting middle-grade novella Louie and the Dictator was born. The story is designed to take children on a journey that has them see themselves as heroes of their own story, while incorporating clinical elements within an adventurous narrative.   

I also wanted to be purposeful in giving back and supporting the team that helped my son prior to, and following, the pandemic. I donate a minimum of 20% of my royalties to the paediatric OCD research team at BC Children’s Hospital.  

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Author of the Month Tellwell Books

Overcoming fears and conquering dreams – Coach Mark Teague on resilience, determination and ambition

American high school football coach Mark Teague offers inspiring advice to young authors and shares what he’s learned through his author journey.

Mark Teague the author, speaker, double-cancer survivor, and now a name that is known throughout the world.

Mark Teague is a nationally recognized American football coach. His debut book, The Conquering Dreamer: Using Your Dreams to Conquer the Obstacles of Life with Passion and Purpose, chronicles the significant challenges he faced throughout his life and how he overcame them. Mark’s inspiring resilience can help readers learn to overcome their own obstacles.

Tell us a bit about yourself.

I’m a high school football coach currently residing in Louisiana. I’m a husband and father of two adult sons. Raised in the state of Alabama, I have coached in various states throughout the southeastern portion of the United States. I have been blessed with invitations to speak as both a public motivational speaker and a football clinic speaker throughout the United States this past spring and summer. I’m a graduate of Troy University (Troy, AL) with a B.S. in Secondary Education Social Science.

What inspired you to write The Conquering Dreamer?

I was diagnosed with and defeated two different forms of cancer (throat & prostate) in 2019. My cancer journey, along with a challenging trek through childhood that continued into adulthood, and my ability to chase my dreams and conquer all challenges that came my way in pursuit of my dreams, was the impetus behind authoring my autobiography. After some coaxing, I was convinced that I had a story the world needed to read. The catharsis it offered me could be well served as catharsis to someone needing the motivation to continue onward in this often difficult and unfair journey we call life.

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

Author Phil Earle shares the story of an unknown Canadian legend in new novel

Phil Earle’s father, Guy Earle, lived an exhilarating life. With his new memoir, I’ll Go the Length of Meself, Phil hopes to showcase his legacy as a great mariner, businessman, humanitarian, and exhibitionist, along with many other attributes.

There will never be another Guy Earle, there couldn’t be.”

This is his story, and Phil is proud to share it.

Never let failure define who you are, but instead, learn about yourself and grow from it.

– Phil Earle, author of I’ll Go the Length of Meself

Tell us about yourself.

From my mother and maternal grandparents, who were wonderful, I grew up believing their high standards for truth, compassion and integrity. From Captain Guy, my father, and my paternal grandparents, I learned to have respect for people and the world, and to have a drive to give the best of whatever life has given me.

What inspired you to write I’ll Go the Length of Meself?

In the beginning, I wanted to tell the story of the remarkable life of my father—this after he had been gone fifty years. And I finally, at the age of seventy, through maturity and wisdom, realized that no one had a life like him.

After finishing the book, it became obvious to me that Skipper Guy was a gifted, brilliant product of the people and culture of his era.

A second story was thus revealed in the book, the story of the great maritime people of the coast of Newfoundland. It became obvious to me that much of what I admired and expressed about my father and the culture of his people is strongly embedded in my character as well.

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

Former Sportstalk Radio host Dan Russell is making headlines with his new memoir

Pleasant Good Evening, a Memoir: My 30 Wild and Turbulent Years of Sportstalk hits #1 on the Amazon bestseller rankings in multiple categories

Canadian sports fans have grown up listening to Dan Russell’s Sportstalk radio show over its three-decade run, and now they can relive some of the most iconic moments in BC sports history in Dan’s new memoir, Pleasant Good Evening, a Memoir: My 30 wild and turbulent years of Sportstalk.

Russell has been interviewed by dozens of media outlets, and his book hit #1 in the Amazon bestseller rankings in multiple categories.

What began in 1984 as a simple 50-minute filler grew into the longest-running and most-listened-to show of its kind in Canada.

What inspired you to write your memoir?  

Initially, it was something I planned for my kids to one day knew what my career was all about.  But mostly it was about making sure the legacy of the trailblazing show I hosted would be forever on the record.   

What do you hope readers will take away from your book? 

Many things, I think. 
1) Setting goals is great, both short-term and long-term.  But chasing dreams can be as unhealthy as it is healthy. 
2) The best broadcasters are the best listeners. 
3) To steal a line from former Sportstalk regular Harry Neale, “Hard work beats talent if talent doesn’t work hard.” 

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