Get to Know… Sam Wedelich!

My name is…

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I am… a Jill-of-all-trades, which is a silly way of saying that I do a lot of things. I used to be sort of shy about this, or afraid that people would think I was bragging. I’m really not, I just like to be creative in LOTS of ways. I’m not great or even good at ALL of them, but I don’t really care. I enjoy learning and growing and trying new things! Oh, I’m also a mom and wife and eater of gluten-free foods (dang allergies!).

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As a kid… I was pretty normal. Nothing special honestly. Just loved making things and using my imagination…. usually to excess. Hmm… Not much has changed actually. Except that I wear shoes now. Even inside, I always have house slippers on.

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Writing is… crafting feelings and emotions and events into words so that other people can live in your imagination WITH YOU. AHHHHH!

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Drawing is… play! No, more seriously… For me, it’s a way of showing how I see and process the world and my life and times into images. Like writing, it’s taking a subjective reality and putting it into a framework that makes it accessible to a wider audience. If you do this well, it’s pure MAGIC!  If not, keep going at it. We’re all works in progress!

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Reading is… an adventure!  It’s the other end of the journey… being in someone else’s imagination, benefitting from their perspective and knowledge and craft in writing. You can travel, you can be other people, you can love, laugh, cry… I mean, is there anything better?!

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Books are… hard work to make, but worth it in the end! Books take so many rounds of changes and edits. So, so, so many. So, if you want to make books, you can’t be too impatient. I’ve always been pretty impatient and I’ve learned to slow down  and stay with the process in book-making. If I can do it, you can probably do it too.

You can and should have FUN and see where the story takes you.

Did you know… that it’s never too late to learn something new?

You can find me… on Instagram @samwedelich.

Get to Know… Kit Rosewater!

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My name is… Kit Rosewater! Some people think that’s a pen name, but it’s my real name too! My maiden name was Watters and my partner’s was Rose, and when we got married we legally combined our last names to be Rosewater! I wish I had a derby name to share… I trained to be a roller derby referee but never got an official derby name. In 2018 I was briefly on a breakdancing crew, and my crew name was KitKat. If I were to lace up my skates again as a ref, I think my derby name would be KitKat, and my roller derby motto would be “Break me off a piece!”

I am a… children’s book author! A shenanigans-starter! A dog-howling-instigator! I am many things, and have tried many things in my life. Before writing books became my career, I worked as a children’s bookseller. Before that, I was a middle school teacher in theatre and English! I have a master’s degree in Children’s Literature and once wanted to be a college professor. But being an author has been my dream from the start. Maybe one day I’ll add illustrator to that title!

As a kid, I was… always imagining new games. I loved letting my imagination build new friends and pets and secret hideaways. My sister and I worked on building a castle in our backyard after school and on weekends. We never got the walls higher than a few inches, but we made a terrific moat to keep intruders out! I had invisible friends who followed me around like Cloud Dragon and Rosie the Pink Dog. I was also constantly making books out of scrap paper. I loved holding my stories as real objects rather than just ideas floating back and forth across my brainfolds.

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Writing is… something I do to escape, to contemplate, to think critically. I need to write stories the way people need to eat food. Taking characters on journeys fills me with a rush of excitement and energy and passion. Writing is also something I wasn’t inherently “good” at. I’m always learning how to tell stories in new ways that compel readers. Writing is a lifelong journey for me. I hope I never stop improving and changing the way I make books!

Drawing is… something I do for fun right now. I like to draw portraits with colored pencils. My favorite parts to draw are hair strands whipping around in the wind! Right now I have a notebook full of drawings I keep to myself. I would like to learn more about how to draw figures for children’s books, and one day illustrate my own graphic novel or chapter book series!

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Reading is… something I loved from when I was little. Learning how to read the alphabet was like cracking the coolest code ever. I remember reading books like Chicka Chicka Boom Boom and Hop on Pop for the first time and feeling so powerful. I still feel powerful when I read. I’m amazed that I can be waiting in line at the post office, pull out a book, and suddenly be transported into another world! I recommend that everyone take a book with them when they go out. It’s so much more fun to read than scroll through phone messages while waiting for the cinema flick to start, or for your food to get to the table at a restaurant.

Books are… PURE MAGIC. Books are incredible. Books are everything. I wanted to write books from the beginning because I realized they could be portals, windows, and mirrors to anywhere. One of my favorite tropes in stories is when a specific book has powers… because I actually think that all books have powers!

Did you know… that while I was growing up, I also wanted to be a wildlife conservationist? In middle school I would wander through the desert plains behind my house and catch horned lizards and snakes. My idol was Steve Irwin, known as The Crocodile Hunter. Steve didn’t hunt crocodiles though–he cared for them and helped relocate them when they were in danger. He passed away in an accident when I was a teenager, but I had always dreamed of meeting him and working at his zoo in Australia. Now I write about the adventures I thought I would go on way back when. And who knows, maybe I’ll still go on some of those adventures someday!

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You can find me… barking out the window with my dog Sadie. Or climbing up the Sandia mountain crest in Albuquerque, New Mexico. Okay, I’m not always on that mountain, or even at my office window. But I am always online. You can learn a lot more about me and my books at kitrosewater.com, and you can catch me on Twitter or Instagram at @kitrosewater!

Get to Know… Hena Khan!

My name is… Hena, which is pronounced “hen-na,” like the tattoo (never “hee-na” please, which is a pet peeve). My last name, Khan, is pronounced from the throat but most people, including me sometimes, say “con.” I’m named after the plant that is dried into the dark green strong smelling paste used for making deep orange henna tattoos. My mom said she named me after a girl in her grade school in Pakistan who she admired, and even though I didn’t love my name growing up, I’m happy with it now. And I kept my last name after marriage because I couldn’t imagine being called anything else!

I am a… scaredy cat. I hate thrills of all kinds. I’ve never ice skated, clung to the walls the few times I stood on roller skates, avoid theme parks, and despise roller coasters. I’m a big fan of naps, drinking good coffee and baking delicious things, and going for walks, which I know makes me sound pretty boring. But I will feed you something tasty, tell you interesting stories, and listen to yours, if you want to hang out with me on solid ground!

As a kid, I was… self-conscious, awkward and a bit of an old soul, and I still feel the same way on the inside as an adult. I’ve gotten a little better at hiding it, most of the time. I like to think that I was kind and a good friend, too.

Writing is… something I’ve done since I was a little kid, in one form or another. I never expected an audience, even when I wrote a family newspaper. And I didn’t dare to dream I would write a book, or books, or imagine that it was something possible. I’m still amazed that I get to do what I do when I stop to think about it.

Reading is… a gift. I still remember my mother teaching me how to read, and being super proud of me when I started sounding out words that I didn’t understand. She used to make me perform in front of her friends. And as bored as they probably were, I never forgot her pride and the feeling that what I was doing was something special and important.

Books are… some of my most prized possessions, along with photos and old letters and cards that I can’t part with. I just recycled some of my old outdated college textbooks, and it was hard to say goodbye to them. I feel guilty when I turn a book upside down to save my place, but I do it sometimes. I NEVER turn down the corners of pages though and feel sad when I see bent pages of a library book.

Did you know… that I have lived within the same five-mile area for my entire life? But I’ve also been lucky to have studied in Spain for a semester when in college, and to have traveled to 35 different countries, on four continents. I haven’t visited nearly as many American states as countries, but being an author and visiting schools has taken me to a bunch of new ones. And I hope to explore a lot more of both the US and the rest of the world in the future.

You can find me… at home, cooking, baking, writing or procrastinating, when I’m not traveling. And you can connect with me online through my website, www.henakhan.com, on instagram and twitter @henakhanbooks, and on Facebook @hena.khan.books, which I hardly use anymore.

Get to Know… Armand Baltazar!

My name is… Armand Baltazar. I’m the author and illustrator of TIMELESS: DIEGO AND THE RANGERS OF THE VASTLANTIC.

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I am a… writer and illustrator now, but once worked as a pizza delivery guy and waiter to pay for school.  I studied to make book illustrations and stories in college but then embarked on a nearly twenty year career making artwork and visual stories for DreamWorks, Disney, and Pixar instead. One fateful day, my son encouraged me to write and illustrate my own stories again and because of him… I’m finally doing what I set out to do!

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As a kid, I was… painfully shy and moving around a lot didn’t help. Books and comics became constant friends. Reading and writing stories and making artwork for them became both an escape and a joy I could do anywhere. My dad loved adventure stories and my mom loved sci-fi. They introduced me to Captain Nemo and his submarine, Long John Silver and his pirates, not to mention Robinson Crusoe, Spiderman, Batman, even Captain Kirk and the Enterprise. Ok, I used to watch Star Trek a lot with my mom as a kid — still do!

Writing and illustrating are… combining two things I’ve always loved. Merging prose and pictures to tell stories that hopefully entertain, captivate, create beauty, and maybe even make the world a better place is the most satisfying job I’ve ever had, after being a dad!

Reading is… the best kind of exercise! It’s exercising your mind and when you are reading something good, it’s like going on a beautiful hike, or like how it feels riding fresh powder on the mountain with your snowboard. It puts me in tune with my imagination and it both stimulates and calms me like a good cup of coffee. I know — that’s pretty weird, but it can be kinda like that to me!

Books are… like movies that play in your head! The characters and the worlds look just like the way you imagine. And best of all you take the adventure with you and enjoy it as fast or as slow as you want, play it over and over, and it will always play for you without batteries, or power cords, and books never need a software update!

Did you know… I’m a first generation Filipino American born and raised in Chicago. Although my heritage is from a warm tropical island culture… I love the snow! My family and I are avid snowboarders and for a time we even owned a women’s snowboarding shop in Pasadena!

You can find me… on Twitter at @ArmandBaltazar, on FaceBook at @ArmandBaltazarStudios, and on Instagram at armand_baltazar. To buy a signed copy of my book and see and buy my art, check out my website: timelessarmandbaltazar.com. I’m always up to visit schools, libraries, and stores, and I love speaking with fellow authors! If interested, contact me at my email: info@armandbaltazar.com.

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Want to learn more about TIMELESS? Check out the Introduction to Timeless video and read some reviews below!

“While the action will enthrall, and the struggle for a better world will inspire, the reader will ultimately be won over by the intimate moments in Timeless…Like a midsummer action movie, the scope (and budget) of the book is dazzling. Six hundred glossy pages, with hundreds of luscious color illustrations by Baltazar, depict a world after a cosmic event that has reshuffled epochs. People from every era coexist with dinosaurs and giant robots.” — New York Times Book Review

“This epic tale from Baltazar, is not only wildly imaginative and attention-grabbing, it’s downright beautiful: more than 150 full-color photorealistic art pieces bring the characters and setting to life. A series opener that conveys a true sense of wonder and excitement on every page.” — Publishers Weekly (starred review)

“Intricate illustrations, stunning in their lush coloring and quality, are liberally interspersed. [C]inematic dialogue, glossy plot twists, and movie-ready illustrations will likely make readers feel they’ve had a theatrical experience.”  Bulletin of the Center for Children’s Books

“The stunning artwork is the real star here. Sure to be popular with middle school fantasy readers.”  School Library Journal 

“Baltazar’s story is a captivating adventure lavishly illustrated with beautiful full-color paintings worth lingering over.”  Kirkus Reviews

“Vivid world creation and brilliant characters make Timeless an unforgettable, wondrous journey that will stay with you long after the final page.” — Ridley Scott

 

Get to Know… Paula Chase!

My name is… Paula but once people get to know me (and if I like them) they call me P.

I am a… Virgo and proud of it. I’ve been (mildly) obsessed with astrology since I was about 11 years old and have now infected both my daughters. We’re always reppin’ for our signs, which I allow even though everyone knows Team Virgo is best.

As a kid, I was… quiet but not shy. Which means I was never the “Hi, I’m…” kid but if you talked to me I’d engage. Quiet kids are sometimes misinterpreted as snobby. The world would be pretty chatty if everyone were a “Hi, I’m…” person.

Writing is… an outlet for me. Whether it’s a professional memo or a note to my kids asking them to unload the dishwasher signed “the management,” it’s how I best convey my mood at the minute.

Reading is… an escape. Given the time, I can inhale a book (regardless of size) in a single day. And because I rarely have time, I tend to binge read the way a lot of people binge watch shows. I love falling into the rabbit hole and getting lost inside.

Books are… a personal choice. I’ve always loved being in a library or bookstore and reading flap copy to decide if a book speaks to me. Since becoming published, one of the toughest things has been the circus barker mentality that seems expected of authors. It’s like Survivor Author Edition where people come up and expect you to justify why they should buy your book or get voted off the Island. That goes against the grain of who I am as a reader. Pick it up if it interests you. Pass it by if it doesn’t.

Did you know… the only constant in life is change. My dad said this to me when I was in my early 20s and it was one of those light bulb moments of truth. Change can suck sometimes, but knowing that it’s something that’s going to ebb and flow regardless makes it easier to swing with it.

You can find me… on Twitter at @paulachase, on Facebook at @paulachasebooks and at my website: paulachasehyman.com. I know using both my names can be confusing, but apparently Paula Chase is a guitarist and owns that URL, so…

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Below are some reviews of Paula’s MG novel So Done, which hits shelves on August 14 (tomorrow!):

“A beautifully written and achingly realistic portrayal of the growing pains even the best friendships often must endure. Tai and Mila’s journey felt as real and messy and ultimately hopeful as all true friendships are.” — Jo Knowles, award-winning author of See You At Harry’sStill A work In Progress and the forthcoming Where the Heart Is (2019)

“Chase vividly conjures the triumphs, tensions, and worries percolating in the girls’ low-income neighborhood. Tai’s exuberance forms an effective foil to Mila’s internal turmoil, and the building anticipation about who will be chosen for the program and whether Mila will divulge her secret will keep readers turning pages.” — Publishers Weekly (starred review)

“The protagonists tell their stories in memorable voices that ring true to their characters…both Mila and Tai are young women that readers will root for.” — The Horn Book

“An honest coming-of-age tale with two different girls dealing with real issues, crushes, and finding themselves…Chase pulls no punches when it comes to emotional honesty… The dual-perspective narrative tackles serious subjects through an adolescent lens” — ALA Booklist

Get to Know… Tara Lazar!

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My name is… Tara Lazar. Not Tara Laserbeam, but that would be pretty awesome if it were.

I am a… weird person. At least that’s what my kids say.

As a kid, I was… a budding inventor, a neighborhood entrepreneur, a creative writer, a voracious reader, weird and odd, loud and annoying, a fiercely loyal friend.

Writing is… the best way to be me.

Reading is… as necessary as cheese. (I cannot live without either.)

Books are… my favorite friend.

Did you know… I used to be a competitive figure skater? I got married in Hawaii? I have two daughters and a hamster? I have Multiple Sclerosis? I choose cheese over chocolate? I despise coffee? I live in New Jersey? I make the best meatballs in the world? I have a five-foot stuffed purple orangutan named Norman who lives on my stairway?

You can find me… somewhere in my imagination.

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When Tara isn’t somewhere in her imagination, you can find her online at taralazar.com and on Twitter at @taralazar. Below are her books — first the covers of those that have been published, then the titles of four more that are coming soon.

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