Thursday, November 24, 2016

Interview with author K.J. Hales

It’s Hard to be Good

1. What inspired you to write your book?
There’s a saying that “the dog did it.”  Well, in this case, it happens to be true.  My dog actually does get the credit.  Growing up, I always loved both reading and writing poetry.  But, as an adult it was no more than scrapes of paper in my journal that I seldom glanced at.  However, when a sassy, little dachshund came to live with us in 2006 she somehow reignited my creative juices and all these silly little poems started pouring out of me.  Her antics gave me a constant stream of creative material.  One day I jokingly said out loud, “these would make great children’s books.”  And that was that, the journey to publish “the Wienerdog books” began.

2. What is it about?
It’s Hard to be Good is the first book in the series, Life’s Little Lessons by Ellie the Wienerdog.  It shares Ellie’s struggle to do the right thing when she is faced with wanting something she is not supposed to have.  In the end, not giving in to temptation earns her praise and rewards that make her feel so much better than the temporary satisfaction she may have felt if she gave in and did the wrong thing.  It teaches the valuable lesson of the rewards that come from “being good.”  It was inspired by, what has come to be known as, the “trash compactor incident” in which the ending wasn’t quite as good. 

3. What do you hope will be the everlasting thoughts for readers who finish your book?
My desire is that It’s Hard to be Good becomes a classic tale that both kids and grown-ups will, not only enjoy reading, but also learn from.  Humor is a great teacher and who better to learn from than a fun, animated character like Ellie the (purple) Wienerdog.  I sincerely hope readers will return to It’s Hard to be Good over and over again to laugh while learning.

4. What advice do you have for writers?
The first thing I would urge writers to do is just start writing!  Write without thought to grammar, spelling or composition.  Just start writing.  Get your thoughts down on paper. Even if it’s only an idea or a word, write it down.  A journal is a wonderful place to start.  In fact, several of Life’s Little Lessons were first written in my journals. The second piece of advice I would offer is to keep a pen and pad everywhere – beside your bed; in the bathroom; the kitchen; the car; your purse or pocket; everywhere!  You never know when or where inspiration will hit you, so be prepared.  Digital devices may work to record your thoughts on the fly, but my advice would be to then write those words down on paper the moment you get a chance – it will make them real.

5. Where do you think the book publishing industry is heading?
I believe a revolution is happening. The Internet now offers a wealth of information including “how-to” resources and marketing opportunities that make the possibility for writers to publish their work (outside of the traditional publishing model) a reality.  Here are a few places to start learning:

6. What challenges did you have in writing your book?
The journey from conception to reality for “the Wienerdog books” has been a long, hard, amazing 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.  That 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 has succeeded in producing Ellie the Wienerdog’s first children’s book that rivals the best of the best in the industry. 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 (that’s a biggie); to website design, social media strategy and public relations; to, to, to …  I am still learning.  The job is endless and at times a bit overwhelming, BUT when I see the smiles and joyful reactions from the kids when the real life Ellie and I visit a classroom, it makes it all worthwhile.  It is so much fun!

7. If people can only buy one book this month, why should it be yours?
Everyone LOVES Ellie! She is the sassy, adorable, purple wienerdog that people will always enjoy for her ability to make them laugh out loud while teaching a valuable lesson. It’s Hard to be Good is fun, fun, fun! There are also wonderful teaching aids, learning activities and creative fun on Ellie’s website and an awesome Ellie plush toy, all based on the book, that make 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 He feels more important when discussed in the third-person. This is copyrighted by BookMarketingBuzzBlog 2016 ©.
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