Author Spotlight: Joseph Forte

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At the Window is children’s picture book, by Joseph Forte, about an orphan who finds peace, love and hope in his life. The author is hesitant to give many details as he doesn’t want to give away the ending. He has received plenty of positive feedback and is am extremely happy with the product he has put together.

Authors Welcome had to opportunity to ask Joseph Forte some questions about his journey into publishing and his children’s book.

AW: Who is your intended audience and why should they read your book?

Joseph: At the Window is targeted towards children ages nine and older as the book is a bit longer than the average children’s picture book while using word choice that some kids may find difficult to understand. Children and even adults who have lost someone in their lives will find great comfort in this story as they cope with grief and all that it brings to us.

AW: How did you come up with the title for your book/series?

Joseph: The original story was entitled, “The Shining Star.” I ran a quick search and found that this title could get lost in the hunt for books with stars in it. Many parts of the story have Henry, the main character, gazing out the orphanage playroom window where he sees a bright shining light. I figured At the Window was perfect as it fits the story line but also the mould of children and their imaginations as they sometimes look out of windows for unusual sites. I know I did as a child.

AW: Tell us a bit about your cover design? Who designed it and did you have a lot of input into the design?

Joseph: I am not artistically inclined what so ever but I knew exactly how I wanted the cover to look. I had chosen the 8.5 by 8.5 square cover and realized that a perfect window would look ideal. I used black construction paper and chalk to create a rough cover, snapped a photo and sent it over to a good friend and graphic designer, Rob Petrullo. He took the image and created what you see today.

 AW: How long did it take to complete your story?

Joseph: I began writing my story in December of 2011 and it was officially released on October 15th, 2013.

AW:  Did you ever experience writer’s block? If so, what did you do to get out of the funk?

Joseph: I have experienced writer’s block and still do to this day but At the Window came quite freely to me. The original copy and the final product are very different but the pencil spilled words on the paper without any issue. When I do experience it, I walk away and listen to some music in order to get the creative juices flowing.

 AW: Tell us about the challenges of getting your first story published? About how long did it take?

Joseph: Publishing a book with a traditional company or self publishing, as I did, both come with many challenges. My biggest challenge was getting my thoughts across to my illustrators in terms of what I wanted to see as well as finalizing the product, ensuring that is perfect. That is a stressful part because once it is signed off, there is no turning back.

AW: Who is your favorite character from your book and why?

Joseph: Mr. Hendrix, the English teacher is my favourite character. He makes a brief appearance but the way he uses his passion for music and lyrics in his classroom reminds me of how I teach and how much I love working with my students, day in and day out.

AW: Who is your least favorite character and what makes them less appealing to you?

Joseph: I wouldn’t say I have one as they all hold a special part in my heart because they are all an important piece to the message I am trying to relay to my readers.

AW: If you could change only one thing about your story, what would it be?

Joseph: This is a tough question because I don’t want people to think that the story is weak, however, if I had to change one thing, I would probably take the rich, more difficult words I used and simplify them. I would do this so that the book could be read by children that are a bit younger.

AW: Give us an interesting or fun fact about your book/series.

Joseph: Mr. Hendrix, the English teacher, is named after the late Jimi Hendrix. He was given the name because as I was writing, I looked down to the floor from my big comfy couch where I sat and there was Jimi, on the cover of Rolling Stone magazine, starring right at me. This is no joke! =)

AW: What other books are similar to your own? What makes them alike? Did they inspire you?

Joseph: I wouldn’t say it is like any book I’ve read but I do like to keep the reader guessing or wondering until the very end where the entire story comes together. My favourite author, Mitch Albom does this and I get shivers each time I think about it. My goal is to keep the reader hooked all along, and then blow them away at the end. It’s a brilliant style that he, as well as many other authors use.

AW: What made you decide to become an author?

Joseph: I’ve always loved music and lyrics and where words can take people hence my website tag line, Where Words Come Alive. I started writing poetry and gave a children’s story a shot, loved it and decided to publish it on my own.

AW: What is the toughest criticism that you have received as an author?

Joseph: I haven’t been involved long enough but I guess that the story was too long and the text too wordy for a children’s book. I realize that everyone has an opinion and it’s impossible to satisfy everyone.

AW: What is the best compliment?

Joseph: I received this email a day after my first book signing. This sale ALMOST didn’t happen. I’m glad it did.

Joseph:

I purchased your book At The Window yesterday at the Welland Library (Dec. 21, 2013). Without a doubt, this is the most enchanting book I have ever read to my grandchildren. The boys think so too!

Please keep me posted for your next book. I would not want to miss it!

Many Thanks Joseph!

AW: Do you have another job or are you a full-time author?

Joseph: I am not a full time author but it feels like it some days. I teach a grade 5/6 class in Niagara Falls, Ontario and love every minute of it. I wouldn’t give it up for the world.

AW: What can we expect from you in the future? Do you have a new story or project that you are working on?

 Joseph: 2014 is shaping up nicely. I have two more stories that are completed, both in the editing process and one in the hands of illustrator as I type away. Always There will hopefully hit the virtual world in June 2014 and “The Joker’s Daughter” (tentative title) for Fall 2014. Things are looking up in the world of Joseph Forte Writing.

AW: Do you have any tips for readers or advice for other writers trying to get published?

 Joseph: One thing I have learned is to ensure that you have created the best possible product and once it is out there, share it with everyone and most importantly, believe in it because if you don’t, no one will.

AW: How do you market your book?

Joseph: This is hands down the hardest thing to do. I have created my own website and become active with social media sites such as Facebook, Twitter, and GoodReads. I have done book signings at libraries and I will be doing my first school visit next week. Word of mouth from customers via book reviews is ideal as well.

People can connect with Joseph Forte at the following sites on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/josephfortewriting. He also has his own website and blog at http://www.josephfortewriting.com/

You can also follow Joseph on Twitter at @JForteWriting.

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Author Spotlight: Judy Snider

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Today Authors Welcome is delving into children’s book publishing with our spotlight on new author Judy Snider. Judy was raised in Michigan, lives in Virginia Beach, Virginia with her husband Gil and her cats Lucy and Bailey. She also has two grown sons, Jon and Nick.

A retired social worker, Judy had the joyful job of working at Cape Henry Collegiate School for eight years. She occasionally does school visits in her city, as she loves reading her book to kids! Goldy’s Baby Socks is Judy’s first children’s book that she has published and it is due out soon. We had the opportunity to sit and chat with Judy about her upcoming books and how she got started as an author.

AW: Tell us a little bit about your book.

Judy: My children’s picture book is Goldy’s Baby Socks. It is the story of a family who adopts a cat and all the fun that follows.

AW: Who is your intended audience and why should they read your book?

Judy: The intended audience is children age 4-7. So far the feedback has been very good. Kids love the book, and find it funny, yet sweet. It is also about a cat, so the younger kids love to make cat sounds.

AW: How did you come up with the title for your book/series?

Judy: I had a cat called Goldy who always brought us socks as presents. I decided to call the book Goldy’s Baby Socks since it was almost as if she was carrying a baby kitten in her mouth. Her picture is on the book’s website so kids can see what she looked like and make the connection.

AW: Tell us a bit about your cover design? Who designed it and did you have a lot of input into the design?

Judy: For this book Thomas McAteer did the cover design and illustrations. He was an illustrator who I found through Xlibris. It was a fascinating experience working with an illustrator while we lived in different cities. I gave him the story and a brief idea of how I would love to see some of the scenes be, and he created the illustrations and cover. He would send them to me for my thoughts and approval. I think the cover of the book is one of the most important parts of a children’s book. It needs to catch a child’s eye to pique their interest as to what’s inside.

AW: How long did it take to complete your picture book?

Judy: It took about 2 months off and on to write it, and then of course to edit, edit , edit. It was published in about 6 months as a print on demand with Xlibris. I wrote another picture book, I Love You, Be Careful with my sister and it was illustrated by Cady Driver. This book targets adults and that took about 6 months as well.

AW: Did you ever experience writer’s block? If so, what did you do to get out of the funk?

Judy: Yes, I did experience writer’s block and chocolate always seemed to help and listening to music. I just wrote my first mystery novella for adults, called, “No Where to Run,” which is currently in the editorial process.  I am working on a second one, and for those I really need music and chocolate. I also just leave the computer and walk outside, and allow thoughts to just come to me.

AW: Tell us about the challenges of getting your first book published? 

Judy: I have written picture books since third grade. I took a writing course with The Institute of Children’s Literature years ago and submitted my picture book to some traditional publishers, and one said we are going out of business, but publish this one with someone. I read to children at a library in a school, and they loved the manuscript for Goldy’s Baby Socks, and kept asking when I would get it published. I decided to go with a Print On Demand publisher , found an illustrator, and then had so much fun reading the books to children and marketing the book. It really is up to the author to market their book, so they need to like it themselves I feel.  My goal was to read my book to children and see them laugh…and they did…the fun part of being published.

AW: Who is your favorite character from your book and why?

Judy: Lucy is definitely my favorite character. She is smart, funny, and is kind to animals. I wanted to make Lucy from a multi-cultural family and make her the kind of girl that many children could relate to. In general, I tend to like strong female characters who also caring and keep going thru tough times.

AW: Give us an interesting or fun fact about your book/series.

Judy: Goldy really did bring socks to us every night. It was just her special thing. In I Love You, Be Careful, my sister and I would laugh at how often we said , “Be careful,” to our children, and they would probably be thinking, Oh, Mom.

AW: What other books are similar to your own? What makes them alike?

Judy: I love so many books, but love beautiful illustrations and books that touch the heart. Each holiday we would find books that were kind and wonderful. I love Mary Hoffman’s book, An Angel Just Like Me.

AW: What made you decide to become an author?

Judy: I have written books since third grade. Being in my 60s now, I have written poetry, many children’s manuscripts, and also song lyrics. I have always loved to read, and most of the time writing is a joy for me. I am loving writing novellas now, and that is my new chapter in my writing career. When my kids were little I took a writing course by mail, joined a writer’s group, and continued reading. I have always loved books  and loved Nancy Drew Mysteries. I can’t draw , so finding good illustrators was so important to me as well as my sister for our book.

AW: What is the toughest criticism that you have received as an author?

Judy: I was told that I preach too much in some of my manuscripts, and that I’m trying to hard to teach a lesson. Thank goodness for editors, as I need help with spelling, and sentence structure.

AW: What is the best compliment?

Judy: The books are funny and heartwarming and I Love You, Be Careful makes a sweet gift for new moms and brides. Most parents can relate to it.

AW: Do you have another job or are you a full-time author?

Judy: I am a retired social worker, retired from working at a school, but I volunteer a lot. I also help my husband who wrote a medical/political thriller set in New York City and Ukraine banter ideas about his second book he is writing.

AW: What can we expect from you in the future? Do you have a new novel or project that you are working on?

Judy: I will always write, but hope to finish my second book, am trying to get my second Goldy book picked up by a publisher, collaborating with another author on a script she did , and writing and collaborating on more songs.

AW: Do you have any tips for readers or advice for other writers trying to get published?

Judy: Edit, Edit….don’t give up- really don’t give up…you can write a book….children’s or novel….write every day if only for 10 minutes.

AW: How do you market your book?

Judy: I promote myself in Alumni magazines and local newspaper articles. I have also joined groups with subject matter similar to my book (Cat Writer’s Association).  I have also worked Marsha Casper Cook and Virginia Grenier, who  do great book tours. They also made a book video for me, and let me do interviews on Blog Talk Radio, etc.

Readers can find me on my websites  www.goldysbabysocks.com and www.iloveyoubecareful.com.  There are pictures and videos, and you can learn more about the book.

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