Tag Archives: children’s author

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

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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Author of the Month

Tellwell author Kristin Pierce ignites self-discovery in children through Inner Compass Books

Soul-searching, finding yourself and self-empowerment are often facets of transitioning from childhood to adulthood, but Tellwell author Kristin Pierce wanted to spark the journey of self-discovery earlier on.

As a mother of two, she sought out to find picture books with empowering messages to share with her children. But the nature of the subject matter left her with few options. Drawing from her personal journey of self-discovery, Pierce transformed some strong, thought-provoking life lessons into a beautifully illustrated children’s book titled Your Inner Compass That Could.

yourinnercompass

 

“As a mother, I thought that if I was craving books with deeper learning messages for my kids, maybe there were other parents out there wanting that too,” she explains. Her goal in creating the story was to use the book to bring empowering messages to the world in an inspirational, understandable and relatable way.

The messages conveyed are concepts that Pierce began unraveling when faced with ovarian cancer at age 21. Self-reflection and inner confidence were pivotal throughout her experience, and are topics that she felt when described appropriately, could resonate just as strongly with children.

“What I uncovered along the way is that we all have this inner wisdom that we can use to help us navigate life from a place of alignment and truth. I realized that this was something I had been ignoring in myself for so long that I felt very disconnected from my truth and who I really was. In the process of getting to know myself better, I knew I was not the only one who felt disconnected or lost along the way,” she says.

To adapt these seemingly abstract concepts into a children-friendly story, Pierce knew the illustrations would carry a significant amount of the messaging.

“I had to dig deep into my creative depths to bring my illustration vision to the surface for Your Inner Compass That Could,” she explains. “The illustrations are infused with symbolism and meaning, and that process required a lot of reflecting, but it was so worth it in the end!”

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