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 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.
It’s that time of the year! We bet you are thrilled that Christmas is getting closer day by day. And to make the countdown more exciting, Tellwell is featuring 12 Books of Christmas to make this yuletide season even more festive!
A new Christmas tradition to bring the whole family together!
Featuring our first book for this holiday, Christmas Treasure Hunt, by Leslie Hoolaeff and Tyler Hoolaeff.
This book tells a charming story of Santa preparing to deliver a game on Christmas Day. Beyond the fun of the story, the heart of this book can truly help create a better, more memorable Christmas that is accessible to anyone.
A daily Christmas laugh for everyone in the family!
Here’s our second book for Christmas! 22 Christmas Without You, written by Christopher Ross.
22 Christmas Without You is the true story of a father and son separated for the first time at Christmas. Told in playful real time with elf rhymes, and illustrated with whimsical, warm-feeling art, a father remains close to his son leading up to the holidays.
Now for our third book of Christmas, The Christmas Adventure, written by Stephen James Moore.
Murgatroyd, a member of the elite M.I.N.U.T.E. (Mice International Network Unit Team Elite) tactical team, and his young cousin, Archimedes, set off on a Christmas Eve raid on the refrigerator. This annual yuletide caper had been meticulously planned earlier by senior mice, but, as the poet Robbie Burns once said, “The best laid schemes of mice and men often go awry.”
Following the plan to the letter, Archimedes and Murgatroyd discover only fridge tracks. Horror of horrors: it’s been stolen! Join our intrepid adventurers on their quest to find the missing appliance and steal it back.
Through it all, one little mouse will need to stand tall to save Christmas—with a little help from Santa, of course.
Now for our fourth book! Enjoy reading Belle’s Christmas Surprise by Carrie Joy & Schafer Krause.
This story is written for the enjoyment of children, but also to intentionally create discussion and learning regarding the passage of time, traditions and the changes to living that time can bring. It is also meant as a picture book for families, libraries and classrooms to share.
• Stories provide important opportunities to bring history to life. Through stories, people share information, values and attitudes about history, culture and heritage.
• Stories provide learners with opportunities to understand the dynamics of people, cultures and places.
• Stories provide learning opportunities for children to value diversity, respect, dignity and equality among all people.
Featuring our fifth book, The True Meaning of Christmas, written by Jenna R Peters.
Freddy sets out to find the true meaning of Christmas, and why we celebrate this very special day each year. What exciting news will he discover? Will Freddy find the true joy that comes with the Christmas season?
Here’s our sixth book for Christmas! Have fun reading Joey’s Christmas, written by Samantha L. Douglas.
Joey the baby kangaroo is off on another grand Christmassy adventure! He and his mother, Mother Kangaroo, have never celebrated Christmas before, and Joey wants to find the best Christmas present for his mom. But what happens when his plan goes awry? Find out in this brand-new adventure of Joey, and how he looks for the perfect Christmas present. Will he find it?
Take a holiday with this twisted tale of Christmas!
You definitely don’t want to miss this unusual Christmas tale with our seventh book: Hel Takes a Holiday, written by Ryan L. Canning.
Something unusual is going on in Santa’s village: the naughty and nice lists are being tampered with, and Santa seems to have more secrets than usual. Hel, the ruler of Helheim, master of Krampus and Death itself, sends a spy to Kris Kringle’s snowy home to uncover the scheme robbing her of souls to torture. When the Queen of the Underworld discovers the dark deceit unfolding at the North Pole, she puts Santa on her own naughty list—not a good place to be! Unleashing her battalions of demons for a Krampusnacht no one will ever forget, she rejoins a war that stretches back thousands of years. However, nothing is as it seems in these lands of myth and magic, and there may be an even greater villain hiding in the shadows. As December 25 draws near, will the truth be revealed, or will Christmas be cancelled forever?
More Christmas fun with our eighth book: Christmas: Christmas Stories, written by Pamela Rose Rasmussen.
This book is children’s fiction stories about Christmas, with lots of fun along the way. It’s all about the love others show and enjoy at Christmastime. There are three stories in this book of fun and happiness.
Featuring our ninth book of Christmas: Josie the Christmas Saving Cat, written by Chris Quigley.
What has a three-legged cat, a pack of crazy dogs, sick reindeer, amazing illustrations, a message for kids of all ages and takes place in the North Pole at Santa and Mrs. Claus’s home? This book, so give it a read!
An adventure that brings out the light of the holiday season!
More exciting Christmas escapades with our tenth Christmas book, Santa’s Very Own Christmas Tree, written by Steven Prince.
This is a story about a boy named Belcher who lives in a cabin in the far north. He’s just finished reading a book about trees and has learned that they can’t grow at the North Pole because it’s far too cold. This fact makes him curious to know if Santa Claus has a Christmas tree at his toy workshop. It’s almost Christmas Eve when he decides to visit Santa to find out the answer to his question. Follow Belcher on his adventure and meet his new friends, Snort the helpful brown bear and a lonely little tree named Sprucie.
Featuring our eleventh Christmas tale, The Tiny Angel: A Christmas Story, written by John and Julia Stirling.
The Tiny Angel begins her journey at the gates of heaven where she meets the Greeting Angel. The Tiny Angel soon finds out that all new angels are asked to study and practice their heavenly skills before they can become special angels and receive their wings. Over time the Tiny Angel’s friends were growing taller, which made her feel different and sad. Would she ever learn enough, know enough and sing well enough to be accepted as a Special Angel and receive her wings? As time goes by, she discovers there is a purpose for all in heaven and her own destiny becomes clear.
We’re finishing up with vibrant colours and creativity in our twelfth Christmas Book, Joy and Jesus: Learn About the Bible Through Coloring and Activities, written by Davia Boston.
This activity book is designed to help young children discover their God-given joy through biblical stories, positive affirmations, crossword puzzles, word searches, and colouring sheets. This twenty-page book encourages the youth to feed their spirit and dive into their creativity and self-expression.
‘Tis the season to be jolly indeed! Meet Tellwell design-team member Gerardo Basilio. Read on to hear about his approach to book-cover and interior designs and how he adds whimsical or colourful touches to them!
Tell us about yourself.
I am Gerardo Basilio “GB” Faelnar. I have lived in Zamboanga City for almost 20 years and decided to become independent by going to Cebu after working in a startup in Zamboanga for a year. I graduated from Ateneo de Zamboanga University, where I was given a basic introduction to InDesign. The IT courses were more about web design and computer animation, so I put my feet in deep water when I applied and got hired by Tellwell.
I am really thankful to the design team for giving useful tips on solving certain obstacles I encountered since day one. Also, just throwing this out here, I have a twin!
What did you do before joining the Tellwell team?
I was an in-house web designer for a US-based company before joining Tellwell. Every design my employer needed was done by me, but no books. My first book-designing experience was with Tellwell, and I still find it fascinating to read the unique ideas that authors want to incorporate into their designs. I look forward to reading more creative briefs with out-of-this-world ideas.
What do you enjoy most about your role?
I enjoy creating cover designs and hitting the right expectations as requested by the author. I also enjoy creating creatures or characters for illustrations that are not common (putting life into something that is not yet discovered, imaginatively speaking).
I enjoy the times when an author asks me to if they can put my name on the book cover or interior. But most importantly, I enjoy making authors happy.
Where do you draw creative inspiration from?
When I go out on errands or buy groceries, I try to find time to go to bookstores and look at the trending books. I browse through the internet to look for inspirations, too. I visit Pinterest, Dribbble, and Canva, and search for the top cover designs of a specific year/style. Also, re-reading the book description and author biography gives me outside-of-the-box ideas.
What type of book covers do you absolutely love doing?
I am still looking for a genre to focus on, but I keep in mind that using only one specific hat will hinder me from growing. By adapting to other genres I am able to create a variety of covers, which is a must-have skill for any designer. This skill can be applied to other mediums as well.
So, to answer the question specifically, I like doing photo-manipulated covers, as it helps sharpen my Photoshop skills.
Why is it important for an author to take their time to consider and review the interior of their book?
Even though the interior may look perfect now, there will always be a tiny error (it may be an extra period or space, or a missing comma) that the designer or editor might have missed. Taking your time at every step of the process will definitely be worthwhile, as you learn new things about book publishing and in return help Tellwell staff better understand the story behind your book.
What advice do you have for authors working with a book designer?
Keep instructions/description short and concise
Expect colours to be different from your original file submission
If you have a detailed costume for a character on your cover with a specific pose, a creature that no one has seen yet and so on, then its an illustrated cover
Properly plot corrections/instructions on revision PDFs
How does interior design help elevate a book?
A well laid out interior can help readers understand the content of a book better. Even small details when added on plain text, like an image or icon, will greatly help readers visualize an object or character better. Using different font sizes and styles will give hierarchy and help with flow for the readers. The striking effect that the author wants to exhibit will still be there even if there are no pictures.
What are some of the favourite projects you have worked on?
Premium covers: I can create my own designs while honouring the author’s requests, so hopefully they’ll like my idea better than the original concept.
Illustrations projects, especially my first illustrated book, entitled Cheeky Dog Duke.
Our book-marketing team is made up of skilled professionals who are passionate about helping authors showcase their projects through a variety of personalized services, ranging from bespoke marketing strategies and attention-grabbing press releases to engaging social media content and graphic-design assistance. We chatted with Ben Graham to learn more about how he serves his authors and what he enjoys most about the work he produces.
What inspired you to join the Tellwell team as a book marketer?
It seemed like a great fit. I had been working with indie artists and authors and wanted to do more of that! The timing was incredible, as I had just returned to Canada and finished up a contract that required similar competencies.
What do you enjoy the most about your work with Tellwell?
I enjoy the variety of activities I get to be involved in. It’s rewarding working with such a great group of people and collaborating on projects for the blog and newsletter, certain marketing activities that require a team effort, and one-on-one work with our talented authors. Because we work with so many unique authors, no duties are ever quite the same—it’s always new.
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.
Looking for more books to enjoy this November? We got you!
Two Tellwell authors are offering their books for free! They are participating in group promotions that include many other free titles. Promotions expire soon, so if one catches your eye, check it out!
Searching for your next transformational book?
This book promo includes a selection of 45 powerful books specifically designed to enhance your life.
Featuring Tellwell author Mike Ellis’s Guided Teachings from Spirit . . .
We’re always excited to celebrate our incredible authors and highlight their glorious achievements.
This November is another incredible month for quite a few Tellwell authors. Make sure to read through and experience recent author celebrations including award wins, media mentions, events, and incredible reviews!
Starting strong is Author Al Rosen. We are proud to share that his book, Avoiding Swindlers, received an excellent review from Reader Views.
Taking a complex topic and simplifying it for the average reader is no easy task, but the author has used his decades of experience as an investigative accountant to boil down a series of examples, wording it in a way that captures the urgency in layman’s terms.
Detailing how companies are getting away with misleading financials and, at times venturing beyond audited statements to real estate “get rich quick” scams, this book educates investors on what they need to look for in each to avoid getting swindled.
If you’re looking for your next go-to read, make sure to grab your copy of Avoiding Swindlershere.
Authors rely on publishing consultants to advise, inform, and set expectations through the production process. Josephine Cataluña has dedicated herself to ensuring authors access the right services to achieve their goals and bring their dreams to life. In addition to her passion for literary projects, Josephine also finds inspiration from music and nature.
Tell us a bit about yourself.
I am a peaceful person who wants to enjoy life with my favourite people. I love animals and nature, especially white sand beaches. Summer is my favourite season. I do yoga and sing a lot. I was a bit of an introvert, especially during my younger years. I just hang out and open to a couple of friends. People who have high self-confidence who get to speak or perform in front of a huge crowd amazed me, maybe because I was not as confident then as I am now. I also enjoy learning about different cultures, cuisines, and fashion styles. I am a fan of romantic-comedy novels and movies.
What do you enjoy most about your role?
What I enjoy most about my role is being able to talk with different people from different walks of life and hearing about their life experiences and inspirations for writing their books. I get to understand things from their perspective, and I gain wisdom with each encounter, because more often than not I resonate with the stories they share. And when the book project is already done, it gives me a different fulfillment knowing I have helped an author figure their way forward in terms of publishing.
What does a typical week look like for you at Tellwell?
It gets quite busy at the start of the week with all the booked appointments and inquiries (by phone or email), talking with different authors, all at a different stage on their publishing journeys. Then I spend the middle part of the week towards Friday negotiating contracts while keeping in mind their service needs and what solution I could bring to each author.
What is a question you get asked the most by authors? How do you answer it?
The question I get asked the most is “How much does it cost to publish?” and I answer it with full transparency, making sure that they understand the value of each service they will be paying for.
Do you have an achievement that you are most proud of? What inspires you to succeed?
I am proud of my Sales Rookie 2022 award, because it means a lot of authors trust me and my consulting. I might be a neophyte at book publishing, but I am very passionate at delivering quality service and genuine advice. I understand the value that each author brings to the world.
If you authored a book, what would it be about?
If I were to publish a book, it would probably be about love in general and how it impacts a person’s transformation in becoming the best version of themselves.
What do you enjoy doing most outside work?
Singing and spending quality time with the people I love.
Do you have any good books or content to recommend?
I do have a short list of romance novels that I would love to get a hold of by the end of the year. A couple of them would be the latest releases by Nicholas Sparks.
What inspires you?
Ambition, happiness, and doing new things. Seeing someone achieve their dreams, seeing someone’s smile, doing adventures and thinking about happy moments with my daughter, family and friends—these are what inspire me. The beauty of nature, too!
Make sure to check out Unhallowed, written by James D Thorn.
For young detective Ozwald Shields, becoming a police detective was all that he had ever dreamed about from the time he was very young. Nothing could prepare him or his veteran partner, Terry White, for the journey they were about to embark on with the discovery of their first victim in a string of gruesome and horrific murders that were about to occur.
Join these detectives on their spine-chilling journey on the hunt for such a dangerous and sadistic killer. Will they catch and stop this murderer in time? Immerse yourself in the story of Unhallowed as this first time author, James D. Thorn, takes you on an intense tour throughout the neighborhoods of Boston to find out.
Looking for your next story to read by the campfire?
Make sure to check out In BlackBurn Hamlet: Mommaletti’s Ghost, by Paul Toffanello.
The story of Mommaletti’s Ghost is about a man who becomes a ghost outside of Nonno’s Pasta Shop and thinks he wants a serving of spaghetti. If he doesn’t get it, he chases little kids to their homes, and they had better make him some pasta, or else!
If you’re into a captivating tale from the past . . .
. . . take a look at Plenty to Hide by Moira Leigh MacLeod.
It’s 1948, and Mabel is happily juggling the demands of being a wife, a mother and the owner of the town’s most popular bakery. Life is full and good.There is a wedding in the offing and plans for a special homecoming, but things quickly begin to unravel.
A violent attack, a tragic accident, dirty politics and a shocking secret that forces Mabel to confront a troubling moral dilemma, combine to create a page-turning narrative that is, at times, playful and fun; at others, shocking and sad. As she did in her debut novel, The Bread Maker, and in its sequel, Or So It Seemed, MacLeod’s latest work grips readers with its surprising twists, colourful characters, powerful imagery and rich dialogue. Readers will feel as if they stepped into a bygone era, eavesdropping on the lives of ordinary people caught up in extraordinary circumstances. A beautiful story about love, loss, deception and depravity, Plenty to Hide will keep you guessing what’s next for Mabel and the unforgettable cast of characters who come to life on the pages of this rich and moving tale.
Make sure to check out In a Raven’s Shadow, by Peter Browning.
Torment is a terrible thing; it festers and consumes and is nurtured by each ugly experience. The teacher is a product of his past—left embittered by events best forgotten. He is a loner, avoiding any social contact that might inflict pain or distress. His classroom is his refuge, an island of solace, a place where he can embrace the innocence and kindness missing in the outside world. When one of his favorite students suffers a gruesome death, he reaches a breaking point. But will a new dark path destroy him?
‘The raven gave a loud caw, flapped his wings and took to the air . . . this was an invocation impossible to ignore.’