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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, where we find the inspiration to turn our life around. An instance that shifts our perspective in such a profound way, we 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, and provided the inspiration for her first children’s book, Hawk Eyes. Read 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, 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 of. 

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 your first book 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 journalling, 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, this can change what you see, and that can change how you feel about it.

I used this experience to challenge myself to tackle something creative. My intention was to take this a-ha 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, that can change what we see, and this 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/kindness is his strength. 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 publishing consultant Jennifer Chapin sits in the author’s seat to publish her new book

Saint Augustine, the Christian theologian and philosopher once said: “The world is a book. And those who do not travel read only a page.”

This sentiment echoes through the work of Jennifer Chapin who blends her love of the publishing industry with travel, philosophy, and a little magic.

By day, Chapin is a publishing consultant at TellWell whose main role is to inspire people to trust their work and take the leap of faith into self-publishing. By night, Chapin takes those leaps herself – travelling in her mind to ancient civilizations and fleshing out characters on paper.

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Chapin has just published her second book, The Poet and The Angel, which is connected to her current role at TellWell in that, as she brings the poet’s voice back to life and onto the page, she encourages authors to do the same with their voices. The novella also resonates with her former career in the non-profit sector.

“I have long been committed to the areas of social and environmental justice, through my pen and through being outspoken on issues that are of concern to me. Federico Garcia Lorca’s [the ‘Poet’] character resonates with me completely. I understand his defense of the downtrodden and I share his commitment to speaking out against tyranny,” said Chapin.

An avid traveller and photographer, Chapin weaves her first-hand experiences into her prose to successfully transport the reader to a new place. But don’t flag this as a fluffy travel novel. Chapin uses her writing as a vehicle to discuss bigger issues: freedom, tyranny and the truth.

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Author of the Month

Doreen Crick chronicles the Caribbean’s dark history through the tears and laughter of women

doreen-crick   OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Doreen Crick didn’t dream about becoming an author, but at 83, she realized her three children and four grandchildren didn’t know much about the dark history of their Caribbean heritage so she began to research and to write.

“Like many people, they saw the Caribbean as a great vacation destination. They didn’t know the history of colonialism and slavery there,” said the author who is originally from Saint Kitts but now lives in Nova Scotia.

Over the next two years, she would write and publish two books with Tellwell. Seawater: Women’s Voices from the Shores of the Caribbean Leeward Islands is the history of several Caribbean islands, told through the laughter and tears of the women who were slaves.

“I wrote about how we survived around slavery. I didn’t focus too much on the devastation but rather on how we managed to cope with it, how we conquered our emotions to survive,” said Crick.

Seawater book

Seawater chronicles what happened in the 17th century when the British arrived in the Caribbean Islands of Anguilla, Nevis and Saint Kitts with slaves from Ghana to set up sugar and cotton plantations. But, in the book, Crick focuses on the women and children rather than the men.

“My school history books were about European men – whether they were scoundrels or heroes,” she said.  “I wanted to share a different history about women and children.”

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