By Chana Stiefel
November is National Alzheimer’s Awareness Month. To help spread awareness, the Fisher Center for Alzheimer’s Research Foundation commissioned me to write a book called WHY CAN’T GRANDMA REMEMBER MY NAME? For this post, I interviewed my co-author, Kent L. Karosen, President and CEO of the Fisher Center to explain how this meaningful project came about. Check out pics from our November 2nd book signing at Bloomingdale's in NYC below.
PLUS Enter our giveaway for a chance to win a free signed copy of the book, or go to Alzinfo.org to order your own copy today. (Guess which presidential candidate has one! See below!) All proceeds benefit the Foundation in the quest to find a cure.
CS: What is the mission of the Fisher Center for Alzheimer’s Research Foundation?
KK: The Fisher Center for Alzheimer’s Research Foundation funds critical breakthrough research into the cause and cure of Alzheimer’s disease, an epidemic that is expected to affect 16 million people by 2050 if we don’t find a cure. With the Alzheimer’s epidemic at an all time high, it’s never been as important to increase the amount of research being conducted in an effort to find a cure.
CS: How did this book idea come about?
KK: I had an idea about using artwork created by children juxtaposed with art created by Alzheimer’s patients as a way to explain Alzheimer’s disease to a broader audience. I also wanted to demonstrate the power of art therapy for all ages and a way for parents and family to share with a younger audience what is happening to Grandma or other loved ones. It’s also important to make raising awareness of the disease a priority and to educate the public about it.
CS: What was the process in choosing an author (and how did you find me)?
KK: I wanted to write the book and work with a children’s book author who understands what children will comprehend in terms of the intricacies of the disease. The Fisher Center found you [Chana Stiefel] through your online website*. We are thrilled to have worked with you on this educational book.
CS: It was an honor and a pleasure to work with you and your team. Describe the artwork in the book and how you got in touch with both the Alzheimer's art program and children's art program.
I have personal connections to Little Kinder Artists as well as Opening Minds through Art, an intergenerational art program for people with Alzheimer’s disease. Through these relationships, we partnered with them to obtain the beautiful art contained in the book (above).
What are your goals for the book?
Through Why Can’t Grandma Remember My Name?, my hope is that a younger audience will have a better understanding of the disease that affects their loved ones.
Which book publisher did you use and why?
We chose to use BookBaby.com, an online self publisher. As a Foundation that directs 85% of its donations to program expenses (such as research) to find a cure for the disease, we chose a cost-efficient method for publishing our book. Through this approach, we have been successful in promoting Why Can’t Grandma Remember My Name?, which hopefully will help us sell our book and inform people about the disease. All royalties from the book go directly to the Foundation in the quest to find a cure.
Visit ALZinfo.org to purchase a book, donate for the cure, and to find resources including current research studies, treatments, and disease management approaches.
Enter to win a signed copy of WHY CAN’T GRANDMA REMEMBER MY NAME? (U.S. only) below the slideshow.
*Note to authors: Here’s a great link about building an author website. http://www.writersdigest.com/online-editor/step-step-guide-build-author-website
By Chana Stiefel
KidLitTakeaways welcomes author Diana Murray, who has THREE new picture books out this year! Diana is generously offering a signed copy of her book GRIMELDA THE VERY MESSY WITCH, illustrated by Heather Ross (Harper Collins, 2016) to one lucky reader. See details below!
KLT: Congrats! GRIMELDA THE VERY MESSY WITCH is out in time for Halloween! How did you conjure this “charming” book?
DM: Thank you! I got the idea during the very first PiBoIdMo (Picture Book Idea Month) on Tara Lazar’s blog. It was 2009, I think. Before that event, I typically started writing as soon as an idea popped in my head. But this time, I spent more time at the idea phase. When I came up with the idea of a messy witch, I couldn’t stop thinking about it. By controlling the urge to write immediately, the inspiration actually grew more concentrated.
KLT: Rot sauce! A puff of ogre’s breath! Scream cheese (my favorite)! What was your inspiration for this hilarious witch’s brew?
DM: Well, firstly, I love puns. Perhaps to a fault. :) Also, I have an affinity for witch culture. When I first had the idea of writing a mess-related story, I wondered who the main character should be, and I thought of several directions I could go in. But the idea of a witch resonated the best with me and gave me the opportunity to write about more interesting things lost in the clutter. I felt making her a witch pushed the idea to the extreme--with all those books, and little bottles of this and that, not to mention the critters.
KLT: Are you neater, as messy, or messier than your adorable little witch, Grimelda? Have you ever lost anything in your hair?
DM: I certainly hope I’m not messier! But I’m sorry to say, I’m nearly as messy. I try not to be, but it’s difficult to clean when I’d much rather be doing something creative. I do try my best. And in the end, of course I prefer a clean, organized house. That’s what I was trying to show with the story. I think it should be clear to the reader that Grimelda would be better off with a clean home and that she’s being very silly and stubborn by resisting. And she clearly pays for it in the end, too. But you see, the witch world is kind of like opposite land. I was hoping kids would get a kick out of that.
And yes, several times, I’ve lost my glasses only to discover they were already on top of my head. What drives me the most crazy is when I can only find one shoe. Ack! And then I have to walk around the house frantically looking for the other one. That happens to my kids, too. I thought it would be funny to imagine, what if you just left the house like that and went about your business in one shoe?
KLT: Did you and your illustrator Heather Ross stir up any ideas together? Did Grimelda appear as you imagined her?
DM: No, we worked independently. Grimelda didn’t look anything like I had pictured. I had always pictured her as an adult and not nearly as adorable. I was blown away by Heather’s illustrations and thought they were absolutely perfect. Better than anything I could’ve imagined. And she added some wonderful touches. Seeing the illustrations is my favorite part of being a writer. Such a fun surprise.
KLT: GRIMELDA is one of your three new books out this year—all in verse! The others are CITY SHAPES & NED THE KNITTING PIRATE. (Who says publishers don’t buy rhyming picture books? KERFLUMP to that!) What are three takeaways for writers who want to stick to rhyme?
DM: 1. Practice, practice, practice.
2. Exchange work with other rhymers and DON’T BE SENSITIVE ABOUT CRITICSM!
3. Take the time to learn about the basics of writing in meter. Test your scanning abilities. If you read something in rhyme, you can ask yourself what the meter and rhyme scheme is. Is it anapestic or iambic? Trimeter or tetrameter? AABB or ABCB? Start noticing.
KLT: How are you managing the marketing of your books? What are your best tips for organizing author visits, signings, and other publicity?
DM: I’m afraid I’m not very good in that area. But I definitely recommend applying for book festivals. They typically get a great turnout.
KLT: Before you fly away, what’s coming next?
DM: I’m happy to say the sequel of Grimelda is going to be released next summer. It’s called GRIMELDA AND THE SPOOKTACULAR PET SHOW (Katherine Tegen Books/HarperCollins). I’ve already seen Heather’s illustrations and they are simply awesome. And this January will be the launch of GROGGLE’S MONSTER VALENTINE, illustrated by the amazing Bats Langley (Sky Pony Press). Can’t wait for the world to see his talent. It’s his first picture book. Another title coming next summer is DORIS THE BOOKASAURUS (Imprint/Macmillan) illustrated by the wonderful Yuyi Chen. I am SO in love with the cover! There are some other things on the way, too. You can see more on my website: http://www.dianamurray.com.
So much to look forward to! Thanks so much!
Diana is offering a GIVEAWAY: One signed copy of GRIMELDA THE VERY MESSY WITCH! (U.S. residents only.) See details below!
Diana Murray writes poetry and books for children. Her award-winning poems have appeared in magazines including Spider, Ladybug, Highlights, High Five, and Hello. Diana grew up in New York City and recently moved to a nearby suburb, where she lives with her husband, two very messy children, and a goldfish named Pickle. She is represented by Brianne Johnson at Writers House literary agency.
Donna Cangelosi and Chana Stiefel are picture book critique partners & friends who are passionate about kids' books & are eager to share tidbits from their writing journey with other aspiring writers.