Life has been pretty overwhelming this week, between an increased pressure regarding work/money/practical things, social obligations, trying to keep up with “optional things” like the workshop over at Writer’s Village I’ve been taking and wish I had more time for and this blog, and making time for the people I care about. I’ve been going to bed exhausted, and waking up extraordinarily early.
It’s fair to say I don’t do well with stress, because it turns me into a person I am not, a person who becomes overwhelmed by worry and anxiety and has trouble completing goals because they seem too large. You don’t have to know me outside of this blog to know that I am a bit of a bon vivante–I enjoy life and a little dash of the finer, more memorable things, and living to the fullest. When every day, practical matters get in the way, I become bogged down and overwhelmed by them. I feel as if I am carrying around a heavy burden, and my creativity level is practically non-existent. In a different era, I’m sure I’d have been the typical highly-strung artiste, but in today’s world, the kindest way to put it is that I am not the best with practical matters and a little flighty when it comes to taking care of them. It’s actually not because I’m terribly flighty by nature, as I’m not—I’m intelligent and have a pretty decent head on my shoulders— but I wish to largely avoid the stress that comes along with all those “adult problems” whenever possible. Therefore, I excel at procrastination and find it difficult to focus on goals that seem too unrealistic and large, and am rarely surprised when the things I want to happen simply don’t work out, or I screw up in some major way. In the freelancing world, this can be a challenging character flaw, because no matter how talented you are, deadlines and rule-following are typically valued a bit more. I have, sadly, had to learn this the hard way. However, I don’t operate well under deadlines—the stress of the deadline blocks out the creativity or the motivation, and anxiety keeps me from allowing my brain to rest.
I am either by nature a very type-A personality who has learned to live life differently as a coping mechanism for anxiety and what is common labeled “too many feelings”, or someone who is not at all focused and driven that’s forced to handle very challenging situations from time to time, with too few people to help. I am not sure which. Either way, since I got some news earlier this week about a lot more pressure being put onto my shoulders, I haven’t felt like myself.
Since I haven’t been writing anything myself lately, nor keeping up with promoting and networking and blogging, I’m happy to have this week’s “Literary Libations” finished ahead of time and ready to go! I’m afraid I’ve been less communicative with this wonderful author than I typically am with my interview subjects, but fortunately, she is a very level-headed and organized type who managed to send everything I needed, regardless.
For the very first time, I’ll be chatting with an author in the genre of children’s fiction, the lovely Deanie Humphrys-Dunne. While a majority of my readers are single, urban types without children, I thought it would be nice o have Deanie stop by for a visit to provide a bit of a new and fresh perspective to the blog. She is friendly, creative, and quite accomplished. I, for one, am thrilled to have her here, so I hope you’ll pull up a chair on this Sunday morning (whatever time it happens to be for you), and settle in to meet her.
1) Please tell the readers a bit about yourself. Where are you from? Where do you reside now, and what is your latest project?
I spent my childhood in the tiny town of Easton CT, where my parents owned a riding school. The farm was called Sweetbrier and life there was always exciting, as well as challenging. Presently, I live in New Fairfield, CT, but I lived in FL for several years as well. I miss the FL weather in the Winter, but my husband really disliked the hot, humid Summers there. I’m working on another book for the Charlene the Star series called Charlene the Star and Bentley Bulldog. My sister, Holly Humphrys-Bajaj, beautifully illustrates my books.
2) If you don’t mind, share a little bit about your latest book? What is it about your writing that gives it a unique voice and appeals to readers?
My newest published story is called Charlene the Star and Hattie’s Heroes. Charlene the Star is a stunning red horse, who is becoming renowned for her jumping talents, but she and her friends are looking for something exciting to do in their spare time. They start an amazing new career, which helps other horses. The story is told from Charlene’s point of view and the animals all discuss their problems and work together to find astonishing, creative, solutions. Charlene the Star and Hattie’s Heroes is amusing, entertaining , and it emphasizes the value of friendship, teamwork and setting goals.
3) When it comes to the creative process, what inspires you? Tell us a little bit about how your latest book came into being.
It’s most important to me that my books promote positive messages for children. I want them to realize that they are all unique. In my book, Charlene the Star, Charlene comes from a family of famous race horses so everyone assumes that will be her forte. But what happens when she doesn’t like racing? She goes to great lengths to show her trainers that she is completely bored with running in circles! She even considers becoming a model at one point. Her career takes a completely different turn. After that, I wanted to create something different for Charlene and her friends. Some of the same characters are in both books, but they set different goals in Charlene the Star and Hattie’s Heroes. It was fun to create the story and I certainly hope that children enjoy reading it. I make every effort to assure that each of my books is my best effort, because that’s what my readers deserve.
4) Did you decide to go with a traditional publisher, an indie publisher, or self-publish your latest work? What do you consider the benefits and the drawbacks of the particular route you’ve chosen?
I chose to self publish because I wanted to retain the rights to my work. I was aware that I would need to do my own marketing and promoting, but I don’t mind doing that. In my experience, most traditional publishers will not consider publishing your work, unless you’re already famous. Also, many traditional publishers are not accepting submissions, so I believe that self publishing was the best course for me.
5) Where, when, and how did you get your start in the writing world? Is this your first publication?
I took two writing courses with the Institute of Children’s Literature. I learned a great deal from their excellent instructors. But I didn’t have the confidence to actually try to publish anything for some time. One morning, I had a strong intuition that I should write a story for children that would be inspirational so I created my first book, Tails of Sweetbrier, which is an autobiography of a little girl who wanted nothing more than to become a champion equestrian, in spite of her handicap. I can’t give away everything that happens, but the story does show that anything is possible if you persevere. This book was chosen “Most Inspirational” by the staff of the Pawling Book Cove in 2009. Tails of Sweetbrier was published in 2009.
6) You’re the first person I’ve had occasion to interview on this site who is a children’s author. What drew you to that genre, rather than writing for young adults or an older audience? Do you illustrate your books, as well?
I love children and I thought it would be a tremendous amount of fun, as well as a challenge, to write stories that would inspire and encourage them. My goal is always to write funny, exciting, stories that would have helpful, positive messages for children.
7) What would you say is the most challenging aspect of writing for younger readers? What do you consider to be the most rewarding?
I think it’s challenging to find new ideas for stories. There are so many children’s books that it’s necessary to find different subjects and/or innovative ways to present your ideas and characters. It’s also important to have sufficient action and lively dialogue to keep young readers turning the page. Some of my readers are kind enough to send notes, telling me how much they enjoyed my stories and what they will remember most about them. That’s a huge reward!
8) Other than yourself, of course, who is your favourite author? What’s the last book you read that really spoke to you in some way, and why?
I love books by children’s author, Sherry Ellis (That Baby Woke Me Up Again! And That Mama is a Grouch!) They are adorable, fun to read, and have good messages. I am very impressed with I Spy a Dragonfly and My Name May be Peanuts, but I say Nay to PB&J, by Carla Burke. Both of these authors are award-winners and they do a fantastic job. I’ve had the honor of interviewing Carla. We had a great time together discussing her books.
9) Is writing a full-time career for you, or something you do in your free time? What do you ultimately hope to accomplish as a writer?
Yes, writing is a full-time job for me. My goal is to continue to write stories that children enjoy. Of course, I hope to inspire them as well.
10) Do you experience “writer’s block”, or a point in time when your imagination simply decides to turn itself off? If so, what do you do to get past that mental stopping point?
Yes, sometimes that does happen. I find that taking a break is helpful. If I take some time away from writing, I can look at it with a fresh perspective, and that’s helpful. Sometimes I ask advice from my family, which is often enlightening. Eventually, the creative side of my brain wakes up again so I can get back to work!
11) Do you enjoy other types of media and artistic creation, such as television, magazines, movies, music, fashion, social media, etc.? What are some of your favourite things?
I love watching equestrian events, such as jumping, horse racing, etc. Also, I enjoy watching figure skating, swimming, and gymnastic competitions. Additionally, I’m a baseball fan, especially a Yankee fan.
12) What’s your Zodiac sign?
I’m a Libra.
13) If you were to give advice to young or aspiring writers who are looking to write for children, what would be the most important lesson you’d wish to share?
I believe that if writing is your passion, you should pursue it, even if some of your friends are discouraging you from that. You must have the passion, in order to make your work outstanding. I think we should never abandon our dreams. Of course, it’s also important to keep writing, because the more you do, the better you become at it. I would also advise aspiring authors to remember that revising your work is essential. It’s rare that your first attempt is your best effort.
14) Of course, we both want readers to rush right out and grab a copy of your latest book! Please tell us where we can find it. Additionally, if you have a blog, website, Facebook, or Twitter, please let us know so we’re able to follow you.
My website is: www.dhdunne.blogspot.com
Book Titles: Tails of Sweetbrier, Charlie the Horse (Kindle), Charlene the Star, and Charlene the Star and Hattie’s Heroes
All of them are on Amazon.com. You may also order them directly from me by emailing; www.dhdunne.blogspot.com. Soon you will be able to order signed copies of my book from my website.
Thank you so much for speaking with me today, Alayna. I’ve really enjoyed our time together.
Deanie Humphrys-Dunne is a children’s book author with four books published at this time: Tails of Sweetbrier, Charlie the Horse, (now on Kindle) Charlene the Star, and Charlene the Star and Hattie’s Heroes (now on Kindle). All of her books offer positive messages for children. Her sister, Holly Humphrys-Bajaj, beautifully illustrates her books. She and Holly are currently working on their fifth book together,” Charlene the Star and Bentley Bulldog.”
Tails of Sweetbrier is an inspirational autobiography about a little girl whose one desire was to become a champion equestrian, in spite of her handicap. Tails of Sweetbrier will show children that anything is possible if you persevere. This book was chosen “Most Inspirational” by the staff of the Pawling Book Cove in 2009. Tails of Sweetbrier is in the process of being published in a second edition. Deanie’s other books, Charlie the Horse, and Charlene the Star, and Charlene the Star and Hattie’s Heroes, are amusing, fictional tales, which contain important life lessons.
Deanie is a graduate of the Institute of Children’s Literature, as well as a member of Cambridge Who’s Who. She has been featured on several author websites and she is administrator of Claire Power Murphy’s group, the Pen is Mightier than the Sword and Claire’s group on Womens Radio.com, called “improve Every Year” She has completed four radio interviews on www.womensradio.com. Her last interview with Claire, “Building Character Through Children’s Stories” received top billing on www.womensradio.com.
Deanie enjoys watching equestrian events, and figure skating competitions, music and singing, spending with her family, and their dog, Elliott. She is also an avid Yankee fan.Deanie has just been selected as “Author of the Year” by Geri Ahearn. Additionally, she has been nominated for the following blogging awards: Sunshine Award, The Best Moment Award, The Dragon’s Loyalty Award, The Very Inspiring Blogger Award, The Leibster Award (twice) and the Super Sweet Award, and the Shine On Award.
Thanks so much to Deanie Humphrys-Dunne for stopping by to be our guest on “Literary Libations” this weekend, and I hope many of you will be inspired to check out her lovely and imaginative creations. Deanie is also part of the Goodreads author community, as more and more independent authors are, so I highly recommend checking out what others are saying if you happen to be part of the website.
Stay tuned, as I’ll be featuring not one but two other interviews this week with talented authors from around the globe, and keeping you updated on some of my own endeavours! As for me, I’ll have to bid you a fairly early good night from my part of the world, as we have a trivia tournament tomorrow and I’d like my brain to turn itself back on.
Sweet dreams, and a lovely Sunday from over here at Jaded Elegance.