Tuesday, May 3, 2016

Guest Post by Deborah Fletcher Blum, the artist!

Hi Everyone!

In addition for writing for kids and producing a documentary,  I also once in a while am a collage artist. Last night there was an opening at the Laemmle NoHo 7 Theater in North Hollywood of my art.

You can see my art at www.deborahfletcherblum.com.

Thank you to Tish Laemmle who curated the show and invited me to join!
Many  of the Laemmle Theaters have wall space that becomes a mini gallery once a fine curator like Nancy finds art to display.

If you go see a movie at the Laemmle NoHo, you will see my art.

Email me if you have any questions or an interested in purchasing any artwork.

I also have a lot of paintings that are not even up on my website.

Good wishes to all the artists, writers and illustrators out there who pursue their passion of self-expression and enhance the world with beauty and meaning -- and humor. Though my collages are not necessarily humorous, they may be musical.
What do you think?

This picture HOME is one of my favorite and it hung for five years in my cousins Greg and Tish Laemmle's home. A fitting piece of art for the home, I suppose!

See more on the website. Link above!

Thursday, April 14, 2016

LAURISA WHITE REYES  is here today to talk about her new middle grade novel

1) Can you give us an update on what is happening with this book? Was it a surprise to get the Spark Award?
Thank you so much, Deborah! I entered the Spark Award competition because it was free and I figured I had nothing to lose by trying, but I didn't in a million years think I had a chance of winning. The announcement came as a huge shock.

Since The Storytellers is self-published, promotion and marketing are a bit of a challenge. My goal was to tell a story I felt needed to be told, a story that could make a difference. I'm hoping that by receiving the Spark Award, a few more people will read it than might have otherwise.

To help spread the word about The Storytellers and my other books, I am developing an email list for my online newsletter. New subscribers receive a free story and are the first two know about my new releases. The sign up form is here for anyone who is interested: http://eepurl.com/6jz9b.  Soon I'll be sending out a special announcement about my latest book, The Kids' Guide to Writing Fiction. (And I never share my subscriber list with anyone.)

2) Can you introduce us to the story of The Storytellers?
Set in the early 1990s, 12-year-old Elena Barrios' father has AIDS. Rather than face certain ridicule and ostracism, Elena tells her friends anything but the truth, fabricating stories about him being a writer and researcher. But the reality is Elena resents her father’s illness and can’t face the fact that he is dying. 

3) What made you want to write this story?

Twenty-two years ago I worked in an AIDS clinic, before effective treatments had been fully developed and made available. At the time, AIDS was a death sentence. It also carried a very negative stigma. AIDS victims were often ostracized from society. But working in that clinic, I saw the suffering and loss etched on human faces--men and women, adults and children. I carried the memory of their pain for more than a decade, knowing that someday I needed to tell their story. Once I finally started writing it, it took nearly ten years and more than a dozen drafts to complete.
I nearly gave up on The Storytellers many times. But a few years ago I had the pleasure of meeting Ruta Sepetys, author of Between Shades of Grey and Salt to the Sea. She urged me to write stories that matter, and her message motivated me to keep working on it. 

3) Wow! What were some of the problems you encountered?

The biggest problem was trying to sell it. I collected more rejections than I care to admit. One agent even told me that AIDS and discrimination in the 90s were not applicable to today's kids. In other words, The Storytellers didn't fit in the traditional marketplace. Luckily, a year earlier I founded Skyrocket Press, a cooperative publishing venture for authors who want to self-publish but don't feel comfortable going it alone. It began when a lifelong friend of mine lost her husband to a sudden illness. She is a brilliant writer but had never had the opportunity to pursue publication. So I edited and published a collection of her short stories in her husband's honor. Martian Goods & Other Stories became the first of what has become a growing list of top quality books produced by Skyrocket Press, several of which are written by traditionally published authors. When they decided to self-publish, Skyrocket Press connected them with professional editors and designers to help create the best quality books possible. I used those same resources to publish The Storytellers.

4) Who is the audience for this book?
It's written for middle grade readers aged 10-14. However, the story appeals equally to adults, especially because many of us can relate to the era in which this story is set. Some of my friends lost family members to AIDS in the 90s, so I think the story is suited for young and old alike. Here's what reviewers have been saying about The Storytellers:
"This book left me in tears...The story line is unique and heart wrenching. I love this book."
"Such an amazing book!!! "
"I'd forgotten was it felt like to cry over a book."
5) I cried when I read it! How can people get a copy?
It's available in both print and digital editions at 
Amazon  and Barnes and Noble
And on my  website: Laurisa White Reyes 

6) Any other things you'd like to tell us about THE STORYTELLERS? It is a powerful book that packs a punch. It is a story that need to be told. I love the references to CHARLOTTE'S WEB.   

I have to mention my cover artist, Jessica Barnes. I had a vague idea of how I wanted the cover for The Storytellers to look, but I haven't got a drop of artistic talent. So I searched for an experienced silhouette artist and found Jessica through her Esty shop, iillume. I think she did a marvelous job.
This is a particularly important issue for me--book covers. When I was the editor-in-chief of Middle Shelf Magazine, I saw literally thousands of children's books, both traditionally and self-published. Unfortunately, most of the self-published books fell far short when it came to creating a top notch cover. No matter how great a story is, if the cover is poorly executed, no one will want read read it. That's why it was vital to find the right cover artist for my book and why Skyrocket Press works so hard with self-published authors to create high quality books. I think that Jessica Barnes deserves as much recognition for The Storytellers as I do.
I agree. I love the cover!!! Your covers are always great, but this one really looks spectacular. It reminds me of one of my paintings! (LOL)
Skyrocket Press - http://www.skyrocketpress.com/
Thank you so much for being a guest today, Laurisa. And best of luck with THE STORYTELLERS! 

Thursday, April 7, 2016

Ode to a Corn Chip

Ode to a Corn Chip!

With sweet crunch you brighten my life,
Under stress or pressure, you take the bite,
I may grit my teeth, but it's not because of you.
When under a deadline, only a corn chip will do!

My work space is a small corner in my quiet apartment above Hollywood. 

You may be able to see a pencil drawing on the wall.

That's Lizzie! 

Lizzie's life is turned upside down when she moves to Kenya with her family and must overcome fears of wild animals and find friends in her new home. She discovers Kenya's poaching problem, and wants to help
Lizzie is Caucasian, but that's not a problem for her. She must adjust to a whole new culture. She's a fish out of water. And that't not easy for an eleven year old from Bethesda, Maryland!

I hope this story inspires readers of all races and religions and nationalities to visit Kenya and get involving in helping. 

Behind my work space is a guinea pig.
And my dog rests nearby. 

I love animals...especially the ones in Africa!

What else do you want to know about me?
My life is an open book! Pun intended!


Monday, February 8, 2016

What it means to be a Jew born in Germany.

This is from the backyard courtyard of the Museum of Tolerance. It is a stone sculpture of the menorah, which is a Jewish symbol of light. It is the thing we light on Hanukkah. Being Jewish is a weird thing. You look white or ethnic but you are different. I happen to look fairly un-Jewish. This means that I "pass" as non-Jewish a lot, which probably explains why I never thought of being Jewish as a big deal. But so many people who are not so WASPy looking as me have had problems and have experienced Antisemitism. 
From left: Gabi Baer, visiting from Germany; me; a relative, Ron Bernheim, and the former mayor of Laupheim, Germany.

Gabi's husband wrote a book about my uncle, Carl Laemmle who founded Universal Studios.
Making peace with Germans is something Jews in the 21st century can do. There is a lot of important research being done in Germany about what happened during World War II. Many Germans want to deal with their past. They need to process it and do something positive to help Jews. This is very positive and I encourage this.

I just happen to be born in Germany, also in Southern Germany, in the city of Freiburg im Breisgau, which was founded in 1120 by Konrad and Duke Bertold III as a Free Market Town. The name literally means "Free Town." view on to freiburg freiburg is also the gateway toDiscovering Germany's green capital: Freiburg im BreisgauFreiburg.
Why was I born in Germany?
Short answer: My father was getting an advanced law degree at the University.
Longer answer: My grandfather encouraged my parents to go because he was from Stuttgart which was not too far away.
I spent seven months with my mom and then she decided to return to LA. My dad joined her a few months later. I was born in September and returned to the States in May, so my first winter in this world was spent in a snowy climate not far from the Alps.
My grandmother came to visit when I was born for a month and help out.
I've been back a few times and I must say, it is a lovely place. The Black Forest is nearby, so there is wonderful hiking!
Any comments or questions regarding this post? Thanks for reading. Where were you born? And how does that affect you as a writer or reader?