Tiny Talk Tuesday with . . . Jim Averbeck

headshot by Sonya SonesI had the pleasure of meeting Jim Averbeck at a LA SCBWI conference.

Jim joined the Peace Corps in his late twenties and went to live in Cameroon in western Africa for almost four years. It was there he first realized he wanted to write for children. You can tell in his portfolio that he paid close attention to detail while living there. Ten years later he sold his first book.

hitchcockJim is the author of the Charlotte Zolotow Honor Book, In a Blue Room and the author and illustrator of except if, Oh No, Little Dragon and The Market Bowl. He studied writing and illustrating for children at UC Berkeley. He was the Regional Advisor for the San Francisco chapter of The Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators. He continues to create  wonderful work in San Francisco, California.

I couldn’t be more pleased for Jim to say yes to my tiny talk interview. Enjoy!

ME:  How do you want to be remembered?

JIM: I’d like to be remembered for writing stories with endings that are either surprising, emotionally satisfying, or both.

ME:  Finish this sentence. A perfect day would involve . . .

JIM: A perfect day would involve peace of mind and a feeling of being grounded in the present moment.

ME: If you can spend a day with one of your book characters who would it be, and why?

 JIM: Alfred Hitchcock is a character in my book A HITCH AT THE FAIRMONT. I would love to talk to him. I think he would have a lot to teach any writer about storytelling, and any artist about doing it visually.

ME: Definitely a fascinating man.
ME:  Who influenced your writing/illustrating career?

JIM: There are so many people who influence us, but for this interview I am going to give a shout out to my high school art teacher, Mary Ann Meyer. Before she came along, art classes in school were all given at about kindergarten level. She was the first teacher to demand that you work hard at your art. She was even willing to fail you if you didn’t. Suddenly art wasn’t a joke. It was a discipline.

ME: She must be beaming right now. Hail to all teachers.blue room amazon cover

ME:  Describe your writing style.

JIM: My greatest joy when writing is playing with language. So I’d say my style is simple and lyrical.


Thanks so much Jim for be part of my tiny talk. I really appreciate it and wish you all the best in your future successes.

A Serendipity Moment

In Georgia for husband’s work event. For me, it’s about getting some R & R. I just finished the SCBWI conference in Houston. I was disappointed I didn’t pitch to an agent or editor. But to get a moment was tough. Like I tweeted, to steal a moment was like a scene from the Bachelor, brutal. I had a great critique on my Young Adult novel, and I was ecstatic that I was chosen for First Look. I got some great feedback. Like always, I met great people but left heart heavy. No one heard my pitch. 

Days later, now in Georgia, I had a Cardinal eating off my plate (check my twitter). People said “get a lottery ticket.”

This morning, I picked up my Starbucks and breakfast. I was going to eat inside, but noticed the upper porch. It was too beautiful not to sit outside. 

While sitting there another cardinal shared my breakfast. A woman and her daughter were sitting close by. The woman and I chatted about the bird. She was easy to talk to. It was a natural connection. We chatted about the spa and her love for Georgia. She then said that she’s “in the publishing business.” I was like “no way me too!” She asked what I did. I said I was an author. She proceeded to tell me she’s  Deidra Knight, a literary agent! I felt as if I was dreaming. 

She asked me what I write. I told her. She told me about her agency. She then joked and said “Okay, let’s hear your elevator pitch.” This was it. I gave my ine liner for my YA. She said, “That was an excellent pitch!” Immediately she said, “I want to see it.” My insides were screaming, “Hot diggity!” She’s also interested in hearing more of my work. 

I mean what were the chances? It’s like love. When you’re not looking for it, bam!

Even if nothing comes of this, just this Serendipity moment was worth all the time I put into this career.

So the moral of the story is, be nice. You’ll never know who might meet at any given moment. Oh, and watch for those Cardinals.  They carry a pretty hefty message, so make sure you listen. 



Tiny Talk Tuesday With . . . Maureen Sky

blingMaureen is a wife, mother, and grandmother first. She lives in a small, quaint New England town that she shares with her husband, Eddie, and their tiger cat, Grueby.  They are antique collectors and just love a good auction and/or flea market.  Eddie introduced her to vintage jewelry, specifically, Bakelite jewelry, for which she used her knowledge of the Bakelite jewelry to write her first children’s book. She took some of the names of the Bakelite plastic bangle bracelets to use as some of the names of the characters in her book (i.e., Applejuice, Butterscotch, Pearl, etc.).

Maureen worked for more than 20 years in the public sector as a secretary in the main office of a local high school in my area.  She enjoys being creative, sewing, painting, crafting and always enjoyed journaling, as well.  Just recently, she decided to try her luck with writing and wrote a poem for an amateur poetry contest.  It encouraged her to continue on with her writing and prompted her to write, “The Bling Fairies of Junkett Falls.”  The book is about little fairies that live out of our jewelry boxes.  “Have you ever gone to your jewelry box to grab a piece of jewelry, only to find it is in a big tangled mess of gems and jewels, when you know full well, that when you left it last, it was nice and neat and organized? You say, how does this happen?”  Blame it on the Bling Fairies!

The book has opened some new doors for Maureen.  She attended a Pitch Festival held in LA last September 2014, where she pitched the book and its story to the Hollywood Film Industry held at the Hyatt Regency Hotel.  It is available via Xlibris online bookstore, Amazon.com, Barnes&Noble, and Ebooks.  One can also contact me at: skybookstuff88@gmail.com.   She’s also a member of SCBWI and on various book related websites.

And now for the “tiny” interview.

ME: What is your favorite word in the English language and why?

MAUREEN: My favorite word in the English language is the word “Try”, because it represents much about us and how our life story evolves, if we just “Try.”

ME: A very strong word full of meaning.

ME: If you were stuck on a deserted island forever, and you could bring one book to read for the rest of your life, what would it be and why?

MAUREEN: I would have to say that I would want the book to be “The Bridges of Madison County”, because the main character in the story is a woman who (while her husband and two children are off to a county fair with their prize animals), falls passionately in love with a stranger who comes to town to take photos of nearby historical bridges.   So many women can relate to this woman and how she became lost within her routine marriage while taking care of her children, etc. We, as women, lose ourselves and our true identity, as we wind up putting ourselves and our needs last. The stranger brings out the desire and passion in her as she rediscovers herself and her body, her buried passion and desires, hopes and dreams. It would be exciting to end up on an island with this book and that perfect stranger.

ME: Here, here.


Me: Describe your writing style in one sentence:

Maureen: Because I am a first time author, I am still learning about my style, however, I am feeling that my style leans toward humor with a bit of quirkiness thrown in.

ME: A good laugh never hurt anyone. We need more of it.

Me: If you could spend a day with one of your book’s characters, who would it be and why?

MAUREEN: I would say the character, “Sarachie”(Bling Fairies), as she is sister to the main character, “Velvy.” She suffers from low self-esteem as she is not as pretty as her sister and has a weight problem, (both issues that I can relate to). However, I would want to spend time with her to teach her and let her know that she is beautiful no matter what shape and size she is and that the people who matter in this world, love her unconditionally.

ME: Something kids can easily relate to.


ME: What genre have you not written in but would love to try?

MAUREEN: A Romance novel. I think it would be interesting to see how I would create the characters, write the story, and navigate the plot.

Maureen, thank you so much for being part of my blog. Write everyday and never stop perfecting the craft. I wish you much success with your book.

Tiny Talk Tuesday with . . .Monica Shaughnessy

photoMonica started out in marketing, but gave in to her urge to “life of the artist.”  She tried her hand in traditional publishing and decided to take her writing career into her own hands. She is now an Indie writer. Monica’s got several novels and kids books for sale through her micro-press, Jumping Jackalope Press.

Monica has been my critique partner in the Katy Kritique group for more than three years. I’m not kissing butt here(I only speak the truth), but the gal is talented. I have been privy to have critiqued many of her collections that are now available online. I think one of her greatest creations yet is her historical novellas. They are written through the mind of a cat. Full of historical detail, these cozy novella’s are a fictional account of Edgar Allan Poe’s real-life animal companion. I swear she lived as a cat in her past life. Not only are these novella’s creative, all her work is well-written and well-researched. untitled

This writer is a go-getter. Monica has extended herself and opened a developmental editing business.  have a ten-year history of writing, editing and critiquing. The only books she’ll pass on are erotica or “how to” non-fiction (memoirs, biographies, and creative non-fiction are okay).

She serves on the board of directors for the American Root Reading Series, a non-profit dedicated to showcasing authors and poets in the Houston.  Monica belongs to the Space City Scribes along with a few other authors. They occasionally do book signings around town and support each other through individual and group marketing efforts.

You can learn more about Monica through her website, http://www.monicashaughnessy.com, or go to Amazon to find her work. Trust me you won’t be disappointed.

Now for the “tiny” talk with Monica.

ME: What is your greatest fear?

MONICA: That I’ll look back on my life and wonder what I did with all that time. I want to accomplish things, not drift. Inertia scares the heck out of me!


ME: What is your favorite word in the English language and why?

MONICA: antidisestablishmentarianism – At one time, this was the longest word in the dictionary, and my grandfather taught it to me when I was five. See? I was a word-nerd even then!

ME: A nerd with a knack for writing I’d say.


ME: If you can spend a day with one of your book characters who would it be, and why?

MONICA: None other than Edgar Allan Poe himself. What an amazing genius! I would love to get his thoughts on writing and everything else, too. But he was a harsh critic – the harshest! So I don’t think I’d let him read my books. 🙂

ME: I’d think Mr. Poe would be impressed with your work.

ME: Tell us five words that describes you as a writer.

MONICA: bizarre, provocative, exacting, reality-bending, unique

ME: What genre have you not written in, but would love to try?

MONICA: I’ve always wanted to write a hard-edged thriller with lots of action and some science-fiction-y elements. My imagination can get pretty dark sometimes.

ME: I’d be your first customer. I love a good thriller.

Thanks so much, Monica for being part of my blog interview and an awesome critique partner. I see big things!