Saturday, February 11, 2012

Book Review: Me and My Potty by Mimi Hoang Kuehn

At first read, Me and My Potty had me laughing out loud (literally). I like the brightly-colored illustrations. Mimi captured the ups and downs of potty training in a way that moms can absolutely appreciate. The imagery is spot on--I can only imagine how children will react to the puddles and leaky pull-ups. She pulls no punches with the word choice. The mere mention of bodily functions generally elicits whispers and giggles from little ones!

Potty training doesn't happen in a day, a week, or even a month. My Potty and Me is written in a way which reflects that reality. The flow of the story seemed to stop and start somewhat--a few times I thought the story had ended. In particular, the success achieved when the monkey finally "peed" felt like a resolution for me. Learning to poop reads like a new chapter. Potty training takes repetition and (frequently) there are setbacks, so writing it this way works. Oh, and the bonus story, "My Poopy Pets", could be a great little book all its own. It makes Me and My Potty an even better value.

Me and My Potty encourages little ones and their moms to be patient and persistent with potty training. Overall, this is a great book! Buy it on Me and My Potty: Monkey see, monkey do series (Volume 1)

Friday, February 10, 2012

The Writer's Block Interviews: Siggy Buckley

1)     Describe your journey as an author/writer.

My scribblings started as a diary when I was online dating. Then I met my now husband the 'natural 'way. He encouraged   me to put my encounters into the form of a book. Daredevil that I am, I even wrote it in English which is not my first language, although I have a master's   degree in teaching it.While waiting for my literary agent to sell my manuscript, I discovered my love for blogging. And here I am, consummate   blogger and now self-published author. Needless to say, my agent wasn't   successful. But I'm forging on.

2)     Do you specialize in any particular genre(s)?   

Memoirs which I disguise as a novel. I have a travel blog that I converted into a book: which became   

3)     Who are your favorite authors? How do they inspire your work?

I love thrillers for example by Elizabeth George. Unfortunately I don't have the imagination to pull off a   whodunnit.  Irish writers like female like Nuala O'Faoilan and Sheila O' Flanagan. There I'm waiting (and hoping) for their 'voices' to rub off on me...

4)     Tell us about your most current project. 

The launch of a new blog for writers took a lot of my time over the past 2 months. It's a new platform for  bloggers and writers to get noticed through social media networks. My current brainchild is a book about child abuse that went on in Ireland in the sixties. It is of a similar theme as " The Magdalene Sisters", if  you have seen the movie. I 'm also finishing up book #3 called I Once Had a Farm in Ireland, also autobiographical.

5)     How did you choose your publisher? Describe that process.

Not having been successful with my agent,  I couldn't sit back and decided to self-publish. From all the possible choices, I picked Createspace because they have a good reputation, deliver quality books, and you have no costs upfront.

6)     How do you promote your work? What strategies have been the most successful? 

I rely on creating an internet presence on various blogs and websites as well as social networking. I'm also a member of the National League of American Pen Women.

7)     What else have you written/published?

I wrote a lot of articles for and under my maiden name, Ursula Siebert; an eBook called Intrepid Homeswappers: Secrets to Successful Home Swapping (How to   save thousands on your next vacation); plus a blog that goes with the website of my novel Next Time Lucky called where I give up-to-date dating advice. Another subject close to my heart is related to everything organic and green since my days on an Irish organic farm

8)     What do you plan to accomplish in 2012? 

Sell a lot of books; finish book #3; establish myself in my new role as blog talk hostess together with Angelica Harris on "Monday Lunch Hour"

9)     What advice would you give to budding writers?  

Write about what you know and don't give up the day job.

10)   What is your definition of success as a writer? 

To get the response here that I was used to (as a matchmaker) in Ireland : "Yes, I've heard about you!" Even from the former Prime Minister (Taoiseach).

Author Bio:  Former matchmaker par excellence - or Dating Guru as the Irish media liked to call me- I was born in Germany. Having achieved a Masters Degree in English, I got married, had two children and then emigrated to Ireland with my family for the GOOD LIFE.

Involuntary life on an Irish farm produced a crop of misgivings and the break-up of our marriage. Single again, I launched a dating service in Dublin which eventually planted the seeds for this novel. I'm now happily married and live in the USA.

Next Time Lucky!/Hernibs

Thursday, February 9, 2012

The Writer's Block Interviews: Illustrator Joyeeta Neogi

1)     Please share with us your background and why you chose being an artist as your profession.
Hi Raychelle, thanks for the invite, and I am honored to be here today!

I am Joyeeta Neogi children’s book illustrator residing at Pune, India with my six year old daughter and husband. I grew up in a family filled with art and inspiration. I've always loved books and drawing, although I've taken the long way round to becoming a children's book illustrator.
 Drawing has always been a passion of mine. I have always loved to draw and paint. At school, I used to do little drawings to amuse my classmates, I would always be drawing and doodling, filling pads of paper, but the greater source of inspiration was my mother, Shikha Biswas an established artist, so looking back I think it was inevitable.

2)    Describe how you began working with Happily Ever After Me, LLC. 

Last year I met Stacey Shannon, Creative Director/Writer at Happily Ever After Me, LLC on an online forum. She started with me with an adoption story book and liked the illustrations I made for the book. Since then, it has been an enjoyable journey working with her. I am glad to be a part of “HEAM” as an illustrator.
 "Happily Ever After Me” creates storybooks and poetry prints, along with other custom products. They capture the stories of favorite memories, childhood dreams, and life's most unforgettable moments that will be cherished for years to come.

Here are some links of work we produced together.

3)     Where do you find inspiration? Describe your creative process.

I take inspiration from everywhere, children, surroundings, drawing inspiration from my childhood memories and my own child growing up.
I like to have a set routine when working on a book. Always develop the character first; I go with where my characters want to take me. Once the characters fit the brief the rest seems to fall into place. After sketching the characters I scan them and work on my computers and begin with the coloring process. I work in both digital and traditional media. But most of my recent works are based on digital media.

4)     When did you start illustrating children's books?

I started working as a fashion designer and illustrator in a garment buying house for about more than four years. After coming to Pune, I started working as a freelance illustrator through online forum. I always wanted to have a job that involved art in some way. Eventually I found that children’s illustration was the direction I wanted to pursue with my work.
And from last two years I have been working as a children’s book illustrator. I am a full-time freelancer and work with clients from all over the world. I create quality Illustrations for children’s market for illustrated story books, custom story books, greeting cards, posters, fashion illustrations. I enjoy illustrating children's books and find nothing better than making people happy with my work. Please visit my website and blog for some samples.

5)     Describe your illustration style. What are your favorite mediums?

I work for both cartoon and realistic style but I think I am more inclined towards realistic style and detailing. Love doing Illustrations in Photoshop Illustrator with quality artwork in vibrant color.
I work in various mediums: oil paint, pastels, crayons, colored pencil, watercolor, and digital .

6)     What do you read?

Growing up, we always had shelves full of books at home. We were encouraged to read, mainly fairytales and fables, and adventure stories.
In children’s books, I love Lynne Chapman and Tim Warnes’s work… I love Laura Logan illustrations, Sherry Rogers’s work; Will Terry is a fantastic illustrator. Axel Scheffler’s and Sue Shananan’s, Mirela Tufan, and Linmida  illustrations  are great .There are too many to name! I like lots of different artists all around the world.

7)    Are you a writer? Why or why not?

No, I am not a writer but (I) love to read what others write so beautifully.

8)     Tell us about some of your latest illustration projects.

Recently, I completed a bright and colourful book illustration, “Charlie and Isabella meet Jacob” by Felicity McCullough.   The colour illustrations tell the story about the adventures of two Angora goats named Charlie and Isabella. It was a pleasure working with Felicity McCullough.
The Kindle edition, paperback, (and) hardcover are out on Amazon.
Check the links at Amazon:

I completed a Fairy tale series with thirty Illustrations for Edcon Publishing Group. I loved working with them. Check the link for some of the Illustration on iTunes store and Amazon Kindle.


 I recently finished two children’s books with Author J.C.Martin

I just completed one story with Author V. Honey Hall, “Home Away from Home”; it is in the publishing process.

9)    What is your definition of success?

Everyone defines success in their own way. To me, success is the inner satisfaction which I get through illustrating children's books. Entertaining people with images I've created is something I thrive on. I feel so fortunate to be able to do this for a living and I am grateful to every client I have worked for.

10)    What do you hope to accomplish in 2012?

I want to try lots of different mediums, different techniques, materials textures and styles to my illustrations. Apart from this I am working on an Interactive children’s story for Ipad App. This is the first time I am attempting to Illustrate as well as write (with my husband’s help and my kids suggestions) an interactive children’s story book that hopefully my kids and others will enjoy when published.

Contact Joyeeta:


Happily Ever After Me, LLC

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

The Writer's Block Interviews: Author, Interviewer, and Book Reviewer Joey Pinkney

1)      Welcome to The Writer’s Block! Tell us a little bit about your background.

My name is Joey Pinkney. I was born and raised in Memphis, TN. I've always had a great love of books. I've loved to read since being encouraged by my parents at a very early age. I love to read and write. I'm a much more active reader than writer, but I hope to change that in the near future.

2)      How did get your start as a book reviewer?

The first book review that was published was Explicit Content by Black Artemis. I was writing for The Urban Journal, a now-defunct newspaper. At the time, The Urban Journal was the widest circulated Black owned and operated independent newspaper in metropolitan Nashville, TN. I was hired to write the obituary column, town hall meetings, police reports - the boring stuff.

I continually pitched to the publisher to allow me to write about books by black authors and other current media events outside of Nashville. Although he claimed that was outside of the interests of the people who read his paper, people used to email me and tell me in person that they really enjoyed the new features. All the while, I was on the internet hunting down authors to email about a potential review.

I moved from Nashville and continued to ask authors for books to review. I worked with and as a freelance book reviewer. I had a wonderful stint at both operations.

I eventually began to work more on building my brand and centralizing my book reviews. I branched out into author interviews because the number of books to be reviewed became overwhelming. At one point, I was getting like 2 to 3 books a week, if not more. The 5 Minutes, 5 Questions With... Author Interview Series was born in late August 2008 and has grown tremendously since then.

3)      What can we expect to find on What is your mission?

Books, books and more books. I've heard people say that it looks cluttered. So does a library until you know what you are looking for and where you can find it, right?

You will find a constantly updating work in progress. I'm constantly adding new author interviews from authors of all kinds of backgrounds and genres. My core audience is African-American authors from various genres from Christian Fiction to Urban Lit to Poetry to Erotica. I'm starting to gain an international following, which is bringing in interest from authors from Ireland, the U.K. and even Australia!

I have close to 500 author interview on If you are a reader, this is a resource to find authors and books you may have never heard of but need to add to your collection. If you are a writer, this author interview series oozes with practical marketing and writing experiences to add to your arsenal as a published author.

4)      How have authors benefited from exposure on your site?

There are a dozen ways that authors benefit from being on Here are 6:

(1) Since I've been doing this for 3 1/2 years, I have tons of repeat visitors that stop by to see what's the latest addition. Many of these repeat visitors are readers looking to buy the next interesting book to satisfy their literary appetites.

(2) I have 200+ Google Connect readers who get notifications or the full posts emailed to their inbox when I update That's a direct connection to a potential reader since most people are attached to the email accounts.

(3) I use the NetworkedBlogs service to syndicate my blogs updates. When I post a new interview, it hits the inbox of the 100+ people who have signed up to receive updates. Plus, it goes to my Facebook wall.

(4) Google usually archives my author interview posts within an hour of me posting it. Readers googling for an author's name or book title will find my interview high in the search ranking, usually on the first page.

(5) I send out social media updates 24/7 to Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and other websites. On Twitter alone, I have over 42,000 followers. Many of those followers are authors and readers who RT (retweet aka resend my updates) to their followers, so the exposure goes viral.

(6) I create interview trailer videos, currently free, for the author interview and books reviews and post them on YouTube and send the link to the various social media website to added exposure. Some people are visually-oriented, so videos catch their attention more than just reading status updates.

Being on has resulted in book sales, speaking engagements, book club invites, blog talk radio invites, publishing connection, etc. With anything dealing with marketing, results will vary, but for the most part, has a healthy amount of specific traffic geared towards connecting readers and writers.

5)      Are you a published author/contributor?

Yes, I am. I contributed the short story "Like Father, Like Son" to the The Soul of a Man: A Triumph of My Soul Anthology (2009), I contributed the Kindle-winning short story, "Maxine" to the Short Story Kindle Competition Compilation (2010), I was granted a cameo appearance in Psycho (2011), I was profiled in I Am Royalty: Profiles in Black History, Vol. 3 (2011) and most recently, I contributed to Gumbo For The Soul: Men of Valor (2012).

6)      Tell us about your current projects and what is next for you in 2012.

I am working on a few writing projects while keeping fresh content updated on I hope to have a few books published by the end of 2012. Stay tuned.

7)      What marketing strategies would you say are the most successful for new authors?

One key strategy that most authors take advantage of is having a website: central command. When somebody asks you, as an author, where to find more about you, the last thing you want to say is Facebook or Twitter or MySpace. You want to send them to your headquarters, not the spot you're renting. Even worse, I've seen authors that have no website. That's a no-go. I've even seen an author that had a website that was mistakenly misspelled.

In terms of things that work, keep writing. Having a constant stream of novels, novellas and anthology contributions will generate the best form of marketing of them all - word-of-mouth. Having a blog that keeps your readers updated with relevant information about you, your writing, etc. That will keep your core audience engaged.

Be willing to invest in advertising and other things that will expose you to your audience. If you don't have the money, get ready to spend the time. Build your presence with readers on Twitter and Facebook. Join Goodreads and Shelfari and participate in the groups.

Get reviews from reputable sources. Encourage the people you know have bought and read your book to leave reviews on Amazon, Barnes & Nobles, Goodreads, etc.

8)     What advice would you give to budding writers?  

These two thing are going to seem contradictory. If you can find the happy medium, you will be closer to success: 1) If you are writing a book you hope to sell, write with your target market in mind. Know who they are, where you can find them and what they want to read. 2) While you are writing your book, don't worry about who is going to read it. Write it to get it done so you can move on to other projects.

About Joey:

Joey Pinkney is an award-winning author and award-winning book reviewer. He is best known for the 5 Minutes, 5 Questions With... Author Interview Series, featuring over 475 author interviews and book reviews.

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

The Writer's Block Interviews: Lisa Tsakos, Co-Author of Unjunk Your Junk Food

1)      Please tell us about your background and profession.

After years of struggling with my weight, I discovered the principles of natural nutrition and my life changed overnight. Within a year I lost weight (close to 50 pounds) and returned to school to study holistic nutrition – it was the only eating style I resonated with and could stick to. Since graduating in 1997, I’ve taught nutrition at many different schools and have been in private practice throughout.

2) What is Nu-Vitality Health and Wellness?  
Nu-Vitality ( provides seminars, weight management programs and healthy eating programs to corporations and non-profit organizations. We educate employees about adapting healthier eating habits (for example, eating on the run, managing stress with diet, and coping with stress). The Programs have been presented to over 100 companies across the country. 

3) What is What is your role as a contributor to this site?

Naturally Savvy ( is a tremendous web resource for organic, natural, and green living, covering all aspects of one’s lifestyle including nutrition, beauty and personal care, pregnancy and parenting, pet care, fitness, and reducing your carbon footprint (recycling, upcycling, composting, etc.). The website also features product reviews of naturally-made foods and products and offers visitors to the site the opportunity to sample products via our Savvy Sampler Program. Several years ago I partnered with the website’s co-founders, Andrea Donsky and Randy Boyer as their Chief Nutrition Expert.

4) Describe your journey as an author. What led you to co-write Unjunk Your Junk Food?

Andrea, Randy, and I wanted to write a book that reflected Comparing junk food and explaining food additives was Andrea’s idea, and as we worked on our book proposal, the format just started to fall into place. Randy was the `product expert`, determining which products – both the conventional and their naturally-made equivalents – to compare. As the nutrition expert on the book, my task was to scrutinize and define each ingredient and to explain how we came up with our `Savvy Picks`. It was very much a team effort.

5) How did you go about getting it published?

I’ve written text books and have self-published a cookbook, but going through a major publisher was a completely different experience. Andrea and I spent an entire summer writing a book proposal. We hired a literary agent to help shop the book around to various publishers and we were thrilled to be signed by Gallery Books, Simon & Schuster, New York. Once signed, we assembled a solid team of researchers, fact checkers, editors, photographers and graphic designers to help us put the book together. It was a two year project that involved an enormous amount of time, research, and money, but we`re extremely pleased with the outcome.

6) What can readers expect to learn from Unjunk Your Junk Food? Where can they buy it?

Unjunk Your Junk Food is a resource that teaches about the dangers of artificial additives. We like to say that we’re starting an ‘edible (r)evolution’ because our objective is to draw attention to the ingredients list on a food package. The Nutrition Facts panel – the calories, fat, etc., provides important information, of course, but it doesn’t matter if a food is low in fat or calories if it’s full of unhealthy and potentially dangerous ingredients, such as trans fats, high-fructose corn syrup, artificial colors and flavors, and preservatives. The book includes a ‘Worst Ingredients’ pull-out list that charts the ‘red flag’ and ‘yellow flag’ ingredients to watch out for when you’re shopping for groceries. It’s also full of useful suggestions – or ‘Savvy Tips’ - for improving diet, health, and energy (for example, “Treats are best eaten early in the day so that you have all day to work off the extra calories. Treats eaten at night are just a recipe for weight gain.”), as well as food trivia and a detailed Glossary that can be used to evaluate the quality of all of the foods in your cupboards. Unjunk Your Junk Food is available from all the major book sellers including, Barnes & Noble, Target, Walmart, and at Indigo in Canada.

7) How have you promoted your book? What strategies have been the most effective?

We sought advice about promoting a book prior to its release and what we heard again and again was that it’s the author who ultimately creates sales, but our publisher is certainly doing its part.  We planned our marketing approach and set aside funds to promote the book well before it came out. We’re promoting Unjunk Your Junk Food a number of ways:  
·         Social media has been very effective primarily because Naturally Savvy already had a strong following;
·         We hired a public relations company to arrange media appearances across the U.S. and Canada as well as radio and magazine interviews. While on tour, we visit area bookstores to meet the staff and sign books;
·         We are three authors with our own professional connections. We made sure to reach out to our industry contacts (and of course, our personal contacts).
It`s still too early to tell which approach has been the most effective.  

8) What advice would you give to first-time non-fiction authors?

·         Be passionate about your ideas: Writing a book is an enormous undertaking, and the amount of time you’ll devote to the project is far greater than you expect, at least it was for us. If you have other commitments, especially a family, make sure you have their full support - you’ll need it!
·         Be firm about your concept: Each publisher we met with liked our general concept but had their own ideas of what the book should look like. Had we gone with another publisher we would have produced a very different book. We were fortunate to find a publisher who loved our idea as much as we did.  
·         Hire a literary agent to shop your book around to publishers. An agent can open doors that you may not be able to open yourself.  

9) What is your definition of success as a writer and entrepreneur?

Obviously we’d love for the book to make its way onto a ‘best sellers’ list, but it’s the reactions we get from readers who are excited about what they’re learning from Unjunk Your Junk Food that is the most satisfying. Having been in business for myself since 1997, the opportunity to be part of a new and exciting project, enhancing my knowledge (about nutrition, publishing, the editing process – all of it), and the doors that are already opening as a result of writing Unjunk – whether the book translates into dollars or not doesn’t even matter.    

10) What is next for you in 2012?

My second baby is due in April, and a follow-up book to Unjunk Your Junk Food is already in the works.

About the Author
Lisa Tsakos is a nationally-recognized nutritionist and educator specializing in weight management and corporate nutrition programs. 

Lisa has been teaching nutrition at various colleges in Ontario since 1998; however, most of her time over the past 15 years has been dedicated to corporate nutrition - presenting seminars and her Nu-Vitality Healthy Weight Program™ at over 100 organizations across Canada. Offered at the Toronto Police Service, the College of Physicians and Surgeons, Telus Mobility, the University Health Network and many others, the Program has helped employees at organizations across Canada lose thousands of pounds.

Lisa has been featured on the Discovery Channel, Wylde on Health, numerous radio programs and is a contributor to various websites, including, The Healthy Shopper, and The Huffington Post Canada (blog). Her articles have appeared in various magazines and newspapers around the world.

Additionally, she has taught natural food cooking workshops and authored two books before co-writing Unjunk Your Junk Food: Healthy Alternatives to Conventional Snacks (Simon & Schuster, December 2011). 

Lisa’s current favourite pastimes include creating tasty, gluten-free meals for her daughter and working on her personal blog,

A few of Lisa’s Articles:

Lose Weight, Look Great. Weight Loss Tips for Summer:,0,2540242.story

Passover and Easter Meals Made Healthy:

Fiber Supplements & Sugar Alternatives: