Tag Archives: tellwell author

Author of the Month

“Good Morning, Blake: Growing Up Autistic and Being Okay” author shares his secrets to media success!

Blake “Crash” Priddle has appeared on CTV News, the CBC and City News Calgary to talk about his inspiring and vulnerable memoir.

Always be a leader, not a follower

Bud Priddle, Grandfather of Blake “Crash” Priddle

Tell us a bit about yourself!

I am 28 years old and I currently work as a radio announcer and news reporter in Northern Manitoba for Arctic Radio. I am on the autism spectrum.

If you want to learn more about my life and my career you will have to get a copy of the book, or visit my website and go to the FAQ section!

Your story is definitely an inspiring one! What was it like opening up about the vulnerable parts of your life, and why did you feel they were important to include in your book?

It was difficult reliving some painful memories from my childhood, and as an adult. This includes issues I had with anxiety and depression. For the most part, writing has been cathartic, like journalling. Putting words down on paper releases the pain and also lets you relive the good memories too. I think sharing my vulnerability helps others realize they are not alone in their journey which might give people on the autism spectrum and their families hope.

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Author of the Month

Tellwell children’s author Rishma Govani talks diversity, equity and inclusion!

Rishma Govani is an experienced communications professional with over 20 years of experience in the media industry.  She is passionate about creating tangible change in the area of diversity, equity and inclusion. She is the author of the children’s book, Sushi & Samosas: a trip of tasty transformations, and is currently working on her second children’s book, Bright Lights & Forever Flights, a journey of loss, love and hope around the world.  She is the proud mother of her two kids Khalil, and Mila and their puppy, Hero.

Rishma has been featured by several media outlets, including Global News, Reading With Your Kids Podcast & Salaam Storytime! Her social media presence is booming and her work with popular creators and influencers has provided visibility for her book Sushi & Samosas: a trip of tasty transformations!

Read on to learn what advice she has for authors!

What inspired you to write Sushi & Samosas: A Trip of Tasty Transformations?

The genesis behind Sushi & Samosas is a little dinner club idea called TFLC which stands for Toronto Food Luck Club. The club’s mission was to try a different ethnic cuisine once a month. The club was active for 13 years trying over 100+ cuisines in the GTA with over 150 members.

The dinners started to slow down when our children were born but the essence of the book remained true for our children – try something new and your world expands!

Check out Toronto Food Luck Club.

How have your personal experiences influenced your book?

I was born a traveler, literally and of perspective – of word, of food, of music. I consider myself a world citizen and I am determined to raise our children as growing humanitarians who are open to every possibility that exists globally. 

The book sets out on a journey of changing perceptions by the mouthful. I know first hand that knowing a bit about other cultures, about your neighbours, about different cuisines allows the ease of talking to strangers and bringing the world close together. It connects and unites us by our similarities and does away with our differences.  I personally live by this ethos and my experiences have influenced the book.

What has the author’s journey been like for you? What are some successful and challenging moments?

It’s been a very long journey from start to finish. At times, it’s been exhausting especially during the recent publicity blitz I’ve been on, but I’m very proud of the book and the central message of it. It’s timeless and universal. I’ve been successful getting the word out through school readings and other media opportunities.  

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

Award-winning author Vali Benson on how she generated buzz, reviews, and awards!

Our December Author of the Month, Vali Benson, has been sweeping up the book awards this season. Her young-adult fiction book, Blood and Silver, won a gold medal in two categories at the San Francisco Book Festival, took first place at the New York Book Festival in the young adult category, and won the Moonbeam Children’s Book Awards for best first chapter book! She has generated over 100 reader reviews, and offers up her book-promotion insights to authors on how to generate buzz for your book, reviews and awards.

Published in 2020, Vali Benson was faced with marketing her book during the COVID-19 pandemic. Moving online, she began the process of gaining visibility for her book by submitting for book reviews. What came next can be accredited to Vali’s hard work, consistency, and dedication to making Blood and Silver a book on every family’s bookshelf.

Read on to hear about her award and review success, plus her advice for new authors!

Tell us a bit about yourself & your book.

I have been a writer all my life. I can also now call myself a published author. It still seems like a dream, but it’s true. However, it would take some time to develop. My parents never encouraged my creative interests, so I studied retail in college. After I graduated from the University of Illinois, my husband and I moved west. We started and operated a couple of successful businesses. When we sold them, I decided to retire early to pursue my dream of writing. I currently live in Tucson, Arizona, with my husband, two sons, and grandchildren.    

Ever since I can remember, I have had a book in my hand. As a lifelong reader, I often thought, “I could do better than that.” So, I decided to finally do something about it. Blood and Silver is my first book. It is a young-adult historical fiction novel about a twelve-year-old girl in 1880’s Tombstone, AZ, who runs into all kinds of trouble trying to save her mother’s life. I like to think it has an entertaining combination of history and heart. The inspiration for Blood and Silver was formed from family outings. When our boys were little, we used to take them to Tombstone for the Wild West show. I was amazed when I learned that this little town of just over thirteen hundred residents had once been a boomtown of fifteen thousand. I couldn’t imagine it, but I knew there had to be a great story there.    

What were some of the more significant lessons you learned writing and publishing a book? This could be about the process itself, or about you.

The process of publishing a book is extremely personal and I’m sure it is different for everybody. For me, I was not quite prepared to hear other people’s reactions to my work, either positive or critical. Blood and Silver had only been a story in my head. When other people had access to my words and ideas, I felt that they were no longer mine. Those feelings gradually dissipate with each positive review received or award won.    

What have you been doing to market and promote your book?

Honestly, I don’t do anything earth-shattering. From day one, my project managers and consultants at Tellwell have guided me in the right direction and I have tried to follow their suggestions as close as possible. A major marketing strategy that was stressed to me was to establish a digital footprint. Simple steps include creating author profiles on selected social media platforms such as Facebook and Goodreads. An author website is not a necessity, but I would strongly recommend it. I try to regularly update my success on these forums thus consistently cultivating fresh interest for my book. The key is to generate constant buzz.     

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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

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

Montreal media icon Tommy Schnurmacher’s touching tribute to his mother receives high praise and acclaim

Montreal broadcaster and author Tommy Schnurmacher is receiving major publicity for his new memoir Makeup Tips from Auschwitz: How Vanity Saved my Mother’s Life. He’s been featured in Canadian Jewish News, The Suburban, Global News and the Montreal Gazette.⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀

His book has sold out in all the Montreal bookstores carrying it. It’s the #1 consignment book at Paragraphe Books, and all 104 copies at Chapters sold out in 90 minutes during a book signing. Way to go, Tommy!

We recently sat down with Tommy to ask him about all the attention his book has been getting since its release.

Q: What inspired you to write this book? 

A: The inspiration for the book came from veteran Canadian broadcaster Gord Sinclair, who was the news director at radio station CJAD in Montreal where I was the mid-morning talk show host. During commercial breaks, I would tell him stories of my childhood and my family dynamic when we first came to Canada from Hungary as immigrants. I remember him saying, “One of these days, Tommy, you are going to have to write a book.” I had often told the stories and I would write notes just for the fun of it, but the day Gord was talking about finally came and I finally sat down and wrote the book.

Your book has received high praise and acclaim. You’ve been featured in the Montreal Gazette, The Suburban, Global News and the Canadian Jewish News. How does it feel to receive so much positive attention for your book? 

A: It is very gratifying, of course, to see that people are enjoying the book. Many people can relate to having a special relationship with their mother. They can also relate to the immigrant experience and to taking care of parents who once took care of them.

Q: How are you promoting your book? 

A: Publicity does not happen on its own and books don’t just fly off the shelf. I use the “five in five” method. I do five things a day, five days a week to promote the book. It could mean writing a press release, sending an email, making a phone call or flipping through a book blogger directory. Every bit counts. Every bit helps. Some will pan out, some will not, but you just have to keep at it. 

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Author of the Month

How divine intervention and serendipity led Tellwell author Jana Rieger to write her first book, and adapt it to the big screen

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It was on a long-haul flight to Europe, and right before a sabbatical, that academic scientist Jana Rieger suddenly had a character appear in her mind.

“Between the fatigue and boredom of being on a long flight, this character came into my mind. The one thing the sabbatical did was allow for some freedom in my mind. It allowed for a space to open up,” said the University of Alberta professor and research director.

In the book, Fennel is a young student and research assistant who is engaging in unethical medical behaviour and attempting to destroy her boss’ reputation and career. Set in Edmonton, at the same university in which Rieger works, A Course in Deception explores the ethical complexities that arise when profit and greed influence health research.

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While the story is completely fictionalized, Rieger says there have been high profile cases around the world of researchers fabricating data in order to secure funding.

“It doesn’t matter which university or where you are in the world, you realize this is an issue. I don’t think there is any one place or academic institution that is immune to this.”

Younger colleagues applauded Rieger because the book made them think about issues related to pressure versus ethical duty in a way they never had before. Rieger noted that many also related to the work pressures researchers face in securing grants and publishing a certain amount of papers every year.

The similarities between the main character, Dr. MacKenzie Smith, and Rieger herself had colleagues wondering if the other characters were based around their own workplace.

“Some facts did make their way into fiction, but there is not one character based entirely on someone else, except for the dog,” she adds jokingly.

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