Tag Archives: tellwell author of the month

Author of the Month

Myriam Huser, pilot, humanitarian and author on how writing helped her learn more about herself and why she encourages everyone to JUST GO FOR IT!

 I never wanted to fit into what was normally expected of a woman; I chose to chase my dreams instead. 

Myriam Huser, author of They Called Me Sky Hunter

Myriam Huser is an incredibly skilled pilot and a talented storyteller – ask her about the time she was detained in Sudan while on a humanitarian aid mission; or, what it was like to hike Mount Kilimanjaro. She’s also a nature photographer and videographer. Recently, Myriam added ‘author’ to her list of titles and experience. They Called Me Sky Hunter, her new memoir about her adventures as one of the first women bush pilots, was published earlier this summer. Since then, she’s received countless reviews praising her book. She’s also had some fun interactions with the media. While being interviewed by Calgary morning radio hosts, Sue and Andy, she was told that, “she makes Indiana Jones look like a librarian!”

We caught up with Myriam to see how things have been going in her new adventure as an author. She shares her reflections and advice, and a couple of entertaining stories from her new book for Tellwell’s August author of the month feature. Enjoy the read!

Tell us a bit about yourself.

Who am I? Sometimes I wonder myself, haha. I was born in the Swiss Alps and I immigrated to Canada in my twenties. I never really stayed put as my aviation career kept taking me across the globe.

Most people see me as a strong independent woman. I see myself mostly as a shy introvert who is simply living her life as she wants. I do realize that my life is not an ordinary life, but to me, it’s just my normal life. I never wanted to fit into what was normally expected of a woman; I chose to chase my dreams instead. 

What inspired you to write They Called Me Sky Hunter?

Being aware that my life has been one big adventure that most people would never experience, I felt the need to share it. I wrote it, in part, to inspire anyone who has a dream but doubts if they can realize it. I’m hoping it will give those people the little push to get started. I also wanted to write it for those who cannot pursue their dreams, for whatever different reasons. 

I wanted to take people on a journey where they can escape to far away lands and experience extraordinary adventures through the stories in my book.

Personally, it also gives me an extra sense of accomplishment, the feeling that everything I have done won’t be forgotten as if it never mattered. 

Your book is full of incredible adventures that take us from Baghdad to Darfur to Sudan; from Uganda to Algeria; from the South of France to British Columbia. You’ve lived such a full life! Is there a particular story that you’re excited for readers to discover from your book? 

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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

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

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

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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