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Monday, April 17, 2017

Interview with author K.J. Hales



It’s Hard to Swim” (Life’s Little Lessons – Lesson #2)

K.J. Hales is an award winning photographer, artist and writer who found inspiration in her wiener dog, Ellie. Because she has always believed in the power and magic of a good book, K.J. dedicated herself to writing stories for children and building a publishing company that would celebrate books for the young and the young at heart. Hales lives in southern California with her husband, her muse, Ellie the Wienerdog and Ellie’s two sisters, Ruby and Pepper. For more information, please see: www.opendoor-press.com

1.         What really inspired you to write your book, to force you from taking an idea or experience and conveying it into a book? To coin a phrase, “the dog did it.”  When Ellie, my dachshund, came into my life she became more than a household pet, she became my muse.  While growing up I always loved reading and writing poetry but it wasn’t something I had done in a very long time.  Somehow this little dog reignited my creative juices and next thing I knew silly “wiener dog” poems and doodles started pouring out of me.  Her daily antics gave me a constant stream of creative material.  One day I jokingly said out loud, “these stories would make such great children’s books.” From that day on I couldn’t get the idea out of my head and the journey to publish “the Wiener Dog Books” began.

2.         What is it about and whom do you believe is your targeted reader? It’s Hard to Swim is the second book in the series, Life’s Little Lessons by Ellie the Wienerdog.  Having never swum before, Ellie believes dry ground is where she belongs and the water is not for her.  However, she soon finds herself strapped into a life vest about to get her feet wet.  Her mind goes crazy imagining all the dangers that are awaiting her below.  Will she sink or swim?  Ultimately, Ellie discovers the joy that comes with learning something new and believes anything is possible if you give it a try.  It ends with a delightful twist that is sure to make everyone laugh.  My targeted reader is children ages 3-8, along with adults who are involved with children’s education and upbringing.  This book comes just in time for the summer season when families will be enjoying all kinds of water activities.  Children (and some adults) often have a fear of what will happen to them if they go into the water so Ellie’s adventure is a fun way to encourage those with such fears to learn how to swim.  It’s Hard to Swim goes beyond being just a great summer read since it conveys the timeless message that anything is indeed possible.

3. What do you hope will be the everlasting thoughts for readers who finish your book? What should remain with them long after putting it down? My desire is that readers come back to It’s Hard to Swim over and over again because it is such a fun, beautifully illustrated book that shares an inspiring lesson in an entertaining way.   Ellie the Wienerdog, herself, should remain with them as a classic character who engages children of all ages and inspires imaginations. What better way for kids to learn than from a sassy purple wiener dog who makes everyone laugh out loud!

4. What advice or words of wisdom do you have for fellow writers?      There is a wealth of online how-to information, marketing advice, publishing options and support communities available for writers.  While you want to take advantage of these opportunities the amount of information can become overwhelming.  Don’t let it distract you.  Experience has taught me a few initial steps to focus on:
  • Begin by defining your audience (who are you writing for).
  • Research where to find them, both online and in person.
  • Decide what you are comfortable doing to reach those people then select the best methods for you based on this.  Remember you can’t be all things to all people.
  • Network with other writers through local writing groups and online communities to learn what they are doing.
  • Select a successful book or author you want to emulate.  Then dissect what they are doing right.
            Taking the time to formulate your plan of action with these preliminary steps before you jump into the market will save you a ton of time and money in the long run.

5. What trends in the book world do you see and where do you think the book publishing industry is heading?         I believe a revolution is happening in the publishing industry and aspiring writers now have more opportunities to publish their works that ever before.   Self publishing is no longer a dirty word and independent publishers are thriving.  Traditional publishing is no longer the only option for new authors and as a result the amount of fresh, inspiring work available to the public is exploding.  It’s an exciting time for new and aspiring authors to fulfill their dreams. 

6. What great challenges did you have in writing your book? The journey from conception to reality for “the Wienerdog Books” has been a long road filled with more challenges than I could have imagined. I had a clear vision of what I wanted Ellie to be and wasn’t willing to give up control which led me to establish my own publishing company.  The learning curve has been steep but with the help of a handful of incredibly talented people, Open Door Press, Inc. has succeeded in producing Ellie the Wienerdog’s first two children’s book.   From finding an illustrator; to learning storyboard and book design; to what all the numbers and data mean on the copyright page; to color and font selections; to book size, paper types, cover and end page design; to printing options, production time and cost per unit; to distribution; to website design, social media strategy and public relations; to, to, to …  I am still learning.  It’s quite a job but when I see the joy and wonderment on children’s faces when Ellie and I visit it makes this amazing journey worth it.

7. If people can only buy one book this month, why should it be yours?
Ellie, the sassy, adorable, purple wiener dog touches everyone’s heart.  In It’s Hard to Swim her charm will make them laugh out loud while inspiring them to believe anything is indeed possible. Along with the book, Ellie has wonderful learning activities and creative resources for children to download on her website (www.elliethewienerdog.com) and a charming plush toy that makes the “Ellie” experience very, very special. 


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Brian Feinblum’s views, opinions, and ideas expressed in this blog are his alone and not that of his employer. You can follow him on Twitter @theprexpert and email him at brianfeinblum@gmail.com. He feels more important when discussed in the third-person. This is copyrighted by BookMarketingBuzzBlog 2017©. Born and raised in Brooklyn, now resides in Westchester. Named one of the best book marketing blogs by Book Baby http://blog.bookbaby.com/2013/09/the-best-book-marketing-blogs 

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