Author Interview: Erica Graham

“If parents are reading the “Talking Tales” series for fun, then my hope is that they are able to enjoy the books with their children over and over again. If parents are reading these books to help with speech, the main thing I hope they take away from the experience is incredible memories of time with their children.” -Erica Graham

What do you do when you can’t find the book you’re looking for? Write it, of course! Meet the person who’s written a whole series of books that help kids and parents when you—

Meet Author Erica Graham!

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Introducing Erica:

Erica Graham is an award-winning children’s author. Graham graduated from Southern Illinois University Edwardsville with her Master of Science Degree in Speech Language Pathology. She also holds her Certificate of Clinical Competence with the American Speech-Language Hearing Association.

As a mother, Graham understands the difficulty parents have finding time to work on speech with their children. In her pursuit to create a fun easy way for therapists, children, and their parents to enhance speech development while promoting literacy, she has written a series of exciting children’s books. Each book focuses on a core sound used in the English language.

Outside of writing and working as a Speech Language Pathologist, Graham enjoys spending time outdoors with her husband and daughters, volunteering with the youth group at church, and a good cup of tea.

Let’s get started!

You’ve got a marvelous background with your Master of Science Degree in Speech Language Pathology, a Certificate of Clinical Competence with the American Speech-Language Hearing Association, plus you promote literacy. At what point did you find yourself thinking, “I want to write children’s books about this?”

There are many studies that show incorporating books into therapy sessions can have a positive impact on a child’s ability to learn a skill. Plus, reading has multiple other positive impacts on a child’s development. I have spent hours online and in bookstores trying to find fun books that will help with a specific goal I am working on with a child, but in many cases I come up empty-handed.

Since obtaining my license, I have been approached by multiple parents whose children do not yet qualify for speech services but they are looking for ways to stimulate speech development with their children. I have always had a love for writing and wanted to combine my writing with my passion to find a way to give parents, therapist, and children a fun way to encourage speech development.

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For your books that star animals—Cricket’s Guitar, Puppy’s Bubble, and Catch That Chinchilla—which came first, the sound you wanted to focus on, or the animal? Or did they unfold together?

Each story has been different. With Catch that Chinchilla and Cricket’s Guitar, the sound came first, then the animal, and then the storyline.

Puppy’s Bubble was inspired by my daughters one day while we were playing with sidewalk chalk outside. We were drawing different animals on the driveway and my youngest daughter asked me to draw her favorite animal, a dog. When I had finished, I was suddenly inspired by the drawing and the bucket of bubbles that we had been playing with earlier. I planned to write a book that targeted early sounds to encourage babbling and first words, but had not yet thought of a storyline, but THIS was it-the concept to “Puppy’s Bubble” was born.

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What do you hope parents will do when they have your books? For example, do you have any reading-out-loud tips or recommendations for frequency of routine?

If parents are reading the “Talking Tales” series for fun, then my hope is that they are able to enjoy the books with their children over and over again. If parents are reading these books to help with speech, the main thing I hope that they take away from the experience is incredible memories of time with their children.

Some tips for making the most out of these books include, reading slowly while emphasizing the targeted sounds within the book. This will help their child develop an understanding of how a sound is properly produced. Parents should encourage their child to talk about the story or repeat common phrases while they read or in future readings. This will allow their child to practice saying the targeted sound and compare it with the modeled sound they have heard from their parent.

The most important thing is to keep these readings fun, so if a child does not say a sound correctly, repeat the phrase back to them in a reinforcing way to give them another example of the sound. So if the child says “thicky thrawberry thucker,” the parent can repeat the phrase saying something such as “you are right, sticky strawberry sucker”. And emphasize the proper “s” sound. This is an indirect way of targeting a sound versus telling the child “no it is Sticky Strawberry Sucker.”

By addressing speech problem in an indirect way, it will be less frustrating. Use personal judgment for when you feel it should be addressed directly and always consult a speech-language pathologist if you have real concerns for your child’s speech development.

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Your “Write a Character” idea is superb. Is there any one character that gets the most requests? Do you have a secret favorite character you like to write letters from?

My animal characters are the most popular and the most exciting to write from. Being a recent release, Chinchilla is still awaiting mail, while Cricket and Puppy are fan favorites.

You clearly have a gift for writing children’s books. Do you ever see yourself branching out into other genres?

I have recently been considering branching out into another genre, but as of now, I am focused on completing my “Talking Tales” series.

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When you started publishing your books, what would you say surprised you the most—good or bad?

The marketing aspect has been far more complicated than expected. As an author, I depend heavily on reviews and recommendations from my readers. Though it is complicated, I have enjoyed every minute of it and am grateful for how much closer I have grown to my readers through this process.

What are you planning to launch next?

I have two more books in the “Talking Tales” series that are in the early editing stages. There will be more information to come as the books are closer to release.

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Now for some just-for-fun challenge questions…

What type of book do you reach for to lose yourself in? Any favorite titles/authors?

While I enjoy multiple genres, I love to get lost in a good fantasy novel. Some recent favorites are The Unicorn Hunter, by Del Henderson, Howl’s Moving Castle, by Diana Wynne Jones, and Heirs of Power, by Kay MacLeod.

What’s your favorite non-writing, non-reading activity?

I love rock-climbing, but have not tackled many walls since having kids. Currently, I enjoy crafting and Pinterest projects.

When you get a story idea, do you scribble it on any scrap of paper or napkin you can find, or do you have a special notebook or online tool where you keep all the inspiration?

I do have a special notebook that I try to keep with me; mainly because I am notorious for loosing scraps of paper. However, I will use whatever I can find when an idea comes to me. Even in that means writing an idea on my arm or leg with a pen if that is all I have available.

If you could go back in time before you started your author career, what advice would you give yourself?

Do not lose focus on the real reason you began to write: to reach families and to have fun. It is not about the sales and numbers. When it becomes about that, you have lost your goal for writing.

Here’s where to find and follow Erica, and purchase her books!

Author Interview: Catherine Rosevear

“Sometimes it seems that elderly people in our society are overlooked. . .I wanted to give a clear message that most elderly people have had very interesting lives, and still have a lot to give.” -Catherine Rosevear

How can your day job lead to writing strong children’s stories? What’s one of the most surprising things about the publishing experience? How do you plan a great author visit—and get over the first-time jitters?

Meet the person who puts “Roman Magic” into her stories when you—

Meet Author Catherine Rosevear!


Introducing Catherine:
Catherine Rosevear lives in Cambridgeshire with her husband, her two children and a Tibetan Terrier. She’s always enjoyed reading children’s books, especially the Paddington books by Michael Bond and books such as Five Children and It by E. Nesbit. Having worked for many years in and around nursing homes, Catherine thought that a nursing home might make a good setting for a children’s book. She also wanted to write a book that would not only involve some magic, but also allow her to bring in her interest in the ancient Romans!

Let’s get started!

Let’s jump right in to your first book, The Secret of the Wooden Chest, published in June 2017. It’s a marvelous mix of an only child, Hannah, a nursing home resident, Mrs. Oberto, and more than a little touch of magic! What made setting your first story in a nursing home so important to you?

A few years ago when I was working as a social worker, I spent a lot of time visiting people in nursing homes, and it always struck me as an interesting setting. Also, I think that quite often, children can form a strong bond with people in their grandparent’s generation, and so I started wondering about setting a book in a nursing home, with a friendship developing between the main character, who would be a girl, and a mysterious old lady, who might have something magical hidden away in her room!


What do you hope children will take away from the story and the characters?

I wanted the characters to be strong and to give positive messages about friendship, and also about growing old. Sometimes it seems that elderly people in our society are overlooked, but I wanted to give a clear message that most elderly people have had very interesting lives, and still have a lot to give.

Also, I wanted strong female role-models, so even though Hannah’s dad is a handy-man, and her mum is a nurse (often seen as traditional male/female jobs), as the story unfolds, you realize that Mum is in charge of the whole nursing home and is the main wage-earner for the family, and that as the home’s handy-man and general ‘fixer’, Dad actually works for Mum.

I also wanted to put some history into the story – I’ve always loved learning about history, and the Romans in particular, and I hope that this story will encourage other children to enjoy this, as well.

You’ve got a second book coming out: Mystical Moonlight. This is also book 2 in your “Roman Magic” series that began with The Secret of the Wooden Chest. When’s your launch date? Do you have any pre-launch plans? Any plot teasers can you give us?

I’m really excited that Mystical Moonlight will be coming out soon! The publication date is set for 28th April 2018, but it may even be ready slightly earlier than this. I’m not sure yet what plans I have to celebrate its launch, as while book 2 is off to the printers, I’m busy doing final edits on book 3 in the series!

At the beginning of this second book, there is a lot of excitement as Hannah gets a puppy, but when she chases after her puppy into the woods at the end of the garden, she is sure that she sees a deer there.

What will she do when her parents decide to sell the woods to a housing developer? Will the magic pendant be able to help her to save the deer’s home. . .?


Did you plan for a series right from the start, or did that idea come later? What things do you have to pay closer attention to when doing a series?

When I started writing the first book, The Secret of the Wooden Chest, I thought it would be a stand-alone book, but as soon as I finished it, I got the idea for the second book. I’ve also now got drafts, at various stages of development, for books 3 and 4 in the series.

I think with a series, you need to be careful to introduce new ideas and minor characters in each book, to keep it interesting, and also vary the settings. Book 1 is set mainly in the nursing home, book 2 branches out (excuse the pun!) into the woods beyond the nursing home, book 3 is set in the gardens of a near-by stately home at the height of summer, and book 4 is set at Halloween, in a creepy, old hotel.

I’d be remiss if I didn’t take a moment to inquire after a very close companion: A certain Tibetan Terrier who is most likely observing you right now—unless it’s nap time! Tell us about this star of your blog (and household).

My dog Timmy joined our family over five years ago, now. When I’m working on a book, I sit in the kitchen, typing away, and Timmy sits (or sleeps!) next to me; we often share a snack before I start!

Once I’ve done a few rounds of editing and re-writes on a book, I read it out loud to him – he loves a story and sits, staring at me, as I read. If he wanders off into a different room, I know there’s something wrong with it.

For the last year or so, since I started writing my twice monthly blog, he has always featured in each post, and there is always a picture of him at the top of each post. It seems only right, as he offers so much moral support when I’m writing!


When you decided to go full-tilt into the self-publishing world, what made you choose a self-publishing company such as Troubador versus, say, CreateSpace on Amazon?

I think CreateSpace is great, particularly for people who have a good level of technical IT knowledge, and who can be confident about getting their layouts right. But, although my IT skills have come on it leaps and bounds since I started writing and self-publishing, I felt that, at least initially, I needed a company who could guarantee to produce a professionally produced, high-quality book, and also offer all the options for marketing and distribution that I needed. I had a look around, and found that Matador (the self-publishing imprint of Troubador), had a good reputation and weren’t pushy.

Author visits: Something that a lot of indie authors simultaneously want and dread! What are your tips for getting started—and for what to be sure to do?

When I did my first school author visit, I was terrified. What if the kids didn’t listen/messed about/found me boring/asked questions I couldn’t answer? But I’d taken plenty of advice from fellow-authors, and had put together a well-structured programme to fill the hour I had in the class room.

I think the key thing is to be confident, and remember that the kids are delighted that you are there; after all, it’s an hour away from normal lessons for them! Remember to break the session down into sections, taking into account the ages of the children in the group. Also, as well as reading aloud from your book, try to include a practical, craft-based activity for primary aged children.

Finally, make sure that the school has sent home a letter the week before, letting parents know that you are coming and that they can send in money on the day, if their children might like to buy a book – otherwise you won’t get any sales!

You recently did a writing workshop with a group of children. What was that experience like?

It was great! It wasn’t something that I’d ever thought about doing, until a friend, whose son had been in a class that I had visited at our local primary school, asked if I would put together a short workshop for a small group, one Saturday afternoon. Again, I think that a good planned structure, taking into account the ages of the children, is the key.

Initially, we spent some time thinking about how to structure a story, and talked about story arcs, and then we talked about where we can get inspiration from. I’d taken along some Story Cubes and also an inspiration box, filled with all kinds of bits and pieces that might trigger some ideas. Finally, we looked at some stories that the children had written before the workshop, and talked about what made their stories come alive and how they could improve them further.

When you started publishing your books, what would you say surprised you the most about the publishing experience?

How many mistakes can slip through the net – grammar, punctuation, spelling – by the time you’ve read it fifty times, you think there can’t possibly be any more errors in there, but it’s amazing how many mistakes still need to be weeded out at the final stages.

What other books and projects are in the works? Do you plan to stay with your target audience, or branch out?

After Mystical Moonlight, I’ve got another two books planned in the ‘Roman Magic’ series, but I’m also currently working on a book for slightly older children; maybe 10 to 12 years old, which I won’t say too much about yet, but it might include a genie!

As well as that, I’ve always been interested in history, and I’m currently transcribing and editing a World War Two diary, which was written by someone who was in the Home Guard near London during the war. This will be for adults as well as young adults, and I’m hoping to have it published later this year, by the Loughton and District Historical Society.

Now for some just-for-fun challenge questions…

What type of book do you reach for to lose yourself in? Any favorite titles/authors?

My all-time favorite books are the Paddington Bear books by Michael Bond – you can’t get better for humour, adventure and a good moral compass, in my opinion, not to mention some wonderful story-lines. I was both sad and honored towards the end of last year, to attend Michael Bond’s memorial service at St Paul’s Cathedral in London, where the final Paddington Bear book (to be published later this year), is to be set.

What’s your favorite non-writing, non-reading activity?

Spending time with my family and the dog.

Do you read your book reviews? How do you deal with good or challenging ones?

Always! I think you should try to take both good and bad ones with a pinch of salt, but it’s impossible to resist the urge to read them!

When you get a story idea, do you scribble it on any scrap of paper or napkin you can find, or do you have a special notebook or online tool where you keep all the inspiration?

I have a special notebook to write ideas down in, but if I get an idea when I’m out and about, it’ll get written on whatever happens to be there at the time – often the back of my hand!

If you could go back in time before you started your author career, what advice would you give yourself?

Get involved in writing networks, groups and societies straight away. These are such wonderful sources of support and advice to all writers, but especially those who are just starting out. I’m a member of the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators (SCBWI), and it is a fantastic place to meet other writers, both online and in person.

Not that we’re saying you need this, but what one thing would you give up to become a better writer?

Cake! I like to set myself writing goals, and when I’ve met them, I stop work and have a coffee and a biscuit or a piece of cake to celebrate. Not that there’s anything wrong with cake, but you can definitely have too much of a good thing!

Here’s where to find and follow Catherine, and purchase her books!

Author Interview: Debbie Manber Kupfer

“My brush with cancer made me realize my mortality.  I learned that if I really wanted to write and be published, I needed to start now.” -Debbie Manber Kupfer

What happens when you choose to be an indie author? How do you get yourself into anthologies? What essential message does Adana the Earth Dragon have for children? Meet the brains behind the P.A.W.S. Saga, logic puzzles, and more when you—

Meet Author Debbie Manber Kupfer!


Introducing Debbie:

Debbie grew up in the UK in the East London suburb of Barking. She has lived in Israel, New York and North Carolina and somehow ended up in St. Louis, where she works as a writer and freelance puzzle constructor of word puzzles and logic problems. She lives with her husband, two children and a very opinionated feline. She believes that with enough tea and dark chocolate you can achieve anything!

Let’s get started!

You are an extremely prolific writer! Which genre or genres did you start out with? Was there a genre you thought you’d focus on first, but ended up going in another direction?

I’ve been writing ever since I was a kid, but only started taking myself seriously as a writer when I started writing P.A.W.S. in 2012. My first love has always been fantasy, and that’s where my main series lies, but I like to experiment in other genres in my short stories.

I also love cats, and nearly all of my stories have cats of some sort in them.

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With Adana the Earth Dragon set to launch this spring, you must be super excited. How did this little dear of a dragon hatch for you? What plans do you have for the launch?

I wrote Adana’s story originally for a fantasy anthology that was supposed to have the theme of the elements. For various reasons the anthology never came about and my little dragon was left without a home.

Finally I was fortunate to meet my illustrator, the wonderfully talented Tina Wijesiri, online and slowly my little dragon came to life. I’m so thrilled how it’s all come together. We not only created a picture book, but Tina also made me line drawings for a companion coloring book and activity book and I added puzzles. I’m currently talking to several local bookstores, libraries and schools about release events.

I officially release on Earth Day (April 22) and am already taking preorders for signed copies of Adana the Earth Dragon and the companion coloring/activity book.

What do you hope children will take away from Adana’s story?

That no matter how small and insignificant you think you are, you are important and have unique strengths. Also that it is important to protect our Earth – so no stomping on flowers.

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I love your concept for Cecilia’s Tale. Is Cecilia based on a particular cat of your acquaintance, or cats through the ages?

Yes, Cecilia’s Tale is loosely based around the story of how my cat, Cecilia (Cici for short) found me and adopted me as her human when I was living in Jerusalem.

Eventually after I met my husband (an American) I moved with Cici to the States. She wasn’t a huge fan of the plane ride. She lived with us for twelve years until she finally crossed over the Rainbow Bridge in 2007.

I wrote Cecilia’s Tale in her memory and Cici also appears in my short story, Will There Be Watermelons on Mars.


Let’s talk P.A.W.S. The plots in “The P.A.W.S. Saga” look thrilling. How did your characters come to mind? How challenging is it to write with a supernatural twist?

The P.A.W.S. Saga has been living inside my head now for six years ever since I first came up with the beginning scene – Miri receiving her grandmother Celia’s silver cat charm the night before Celia dies. Fantasy is my natural genre – both what I most like to read and to write. I see magic everywhere and often times folk I see around me or snippets of conversation I pick up become part of P.A.W.S. Actually when I write other stories they usually end up being part of the P.A.W.S. universe even when I didn’t intend it that way.

So, for example, my evil green fairies, the Tegs, started off in a short story I wrote for an anthology and then found their way into Argentum (book 2 of my series) and have stayed ever since.

You’ve contributed to several anthologies, such as Sins of the Past. How did you get involved in these collections? What tips would you have for authors who are interested in being part of anthologies?

I love being part of anthologies and have been in quite a few. Some like “Stardust, Always” and “The Longest Night Watch” raise money for charities which is an added bonus.

The Sins of Time series is a joint project between me and Chasity Nicole. I’m the editor of the horror series which so far has three titles – Sins of the Past, Sins of the Future, and Sins of the Gods. We’re currently working on book 4, Sins of the Fae, and I encourage any of your readers who like to write horror to join our Facebook page for details.

Otherwise, keep your eyes peeled for calls for submission to anthologies. There are so many out there, but if you don’t find one you like you can always start your own!

What appreciable differences do you find among writing for children, writing for teens, and writing for adults? Has anything surprised you at being the same across ages?

I don’t set out to write for any particular audience. I just write my story and see where it goes. And I don’t believe in dumbing language down for younger readers (or for older ones for that matter). At all ages we want to be drawn in the story and care about the characters. It doesn’t matter if it’s a little earth dragon, a homicidal android (I wrote about one of those for Sins of the Future), or a werecat, the reader needs to care about the characters.

I love logic puzzles, and you’ve got a set of 39 in Paws4Logic! Have you always created your own? When did you first start getting into these puzzles?

Creating puzzles is my “other hat” so to speak. About half of the time I write and edit. The other half I write puzzles, mostly for Penny Press magazines and my website, Paws 4 Puzzles. I write all sorts of word and logic puzzles. Paws 4 Logic was a passion project for me and my son, Joey. We both adore puzzles and wanted to create a book together.

I first discovered logic problems when I was a kid in London. I remember my excitement when I bought my first magazine. I was home. It didn’t take long until I started creating my own and my son Joey also has the puzzle bug.

When you started publishing your books, what would you say surprised you the most about the publishing experience (good or bad)?

I started off published by a local small press. My biggest surprise I think was that they didn’t do very much when it came to marketing. Most of that still fell on me. Two years later when my contract was up I decided not to renew and today I self-publish with CreateSpace and KDP and like it a whole lot better. I still of course have to market my own books, but I also get to make my own publishing decisions about covers, release dates, prices, etc.

Small press has its place and is particularly good for those who are new to the business or are not very tech savvy. But I’m happy as indie and would only go back to trad publishing if one of the big boys came knocking.

What are you planning to launch next?

My next release is Adana the Earth Dragon on April 22 (Earth Day) along with the companion coloring and activity book.

I’m also working on book 5 of my P.A.W.S. Saga, “Cotula”, which I hope to have out by the end of the year. Also my illustrator, Tina Wijesiri, is currently drawing the pictures for a junior tale from P.A.W.S. story geared towards younger elementary school kids.

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Now for some just-for-fun challenge questions…

What type of book do you reach for to lose yourself in? Any favorite titles/authors?

Fantasy or sci-fi mostly. Favorite authors include Douglas Adams, Terry Pratchett, JK Rowling, Neil Gaiman and Cornelia Funke. I’ve also become a fan of a few indies who put out awesome books: Michelle Proulx, E.A. Copen, R. R. Virdi, Jen Ponce, and M.A. Ray to name but a few.

What’s your favorite non-writing, non-reading activity?

Puzzles and board games, often with my son, Joey. Plus going to concerts with my daughter, Ronni.

Do you read your book reviews? How do you deal with good or challenging ones?

Yeah, I mostly read them. I try not to let the negative get me down (it’s par for the course when you’re a writer. Not everyone’s going to like what you do.)

When you get a story idea, do you scribble it on any scrap of paper or napkin you can find, or do you have a special notebook or online tool where you keep all the inspiration?

If I’m out and about I yes scribble it on whatever I can find. At home I’ll put it in a doc on my PC for another time. (I’m trying not to get distracted from my work-in-progress.)

If you could go back in time before you started your author career, what advice would you give yourself?

Start earlier. I’ve been writing since I was a kid, but didn’t start taking my writing seriously until 2012 when I came out of cancer treatment. Before then I had thought that I had all the time in the world to write, so I delayed it thinking I’d write a novel when my kids were older.

My brush with cancer made me realize my mortality. I learned that if I really wanted to write and be published I needed to start now. If I could go back in time I would have started earlier.

Here’s where to find and follow Debbie, and purchase her books!