Bette Stevens – A Woman For All Seasons

It hasn’t taken long for me to realize the best part of being an author is meeting other authors and building friendships.  This is extremely easy when you meet people like Bette Stevens.  Did you ever meet someone with whom you feel you have been friends for years?  That’s how I feel about Bette.

I like to think of Bette as a woman for all seasons because of her talent and experience.  She has been there and done it all, from business to education and now artist and author.  Bette mixes all of her skills and shares them with us in her children’s and young adult books.  In Amazing Matilda , Bette successfully educates children about Monarch butterflies while entertaining them with a fun story with clever characters.  This is a perfect story for introducing children to the beauty and incredible life of butterflies.  Share the experience with your children by helping them find cocoons and watching the magic of “Matilda” evolve.

Not only can Bette write and illustrate for children, she has the ability to touch the hearts of older readers as well.  In Pure Trash and Dog Bone Soup, baby-boomers will reminisce about the 50’s and 60’s while younger readers will be drawn in by the story of a young man who wants more out of life than he has experienced in his rural community.  Dog Bone Soup is entertaining yet teaches compassion and understanding by exposing bullying, intolerance, and plain old meanness.

Let me introduce my friend Bette Stevens so you can get to know her better.Bette Crop 2015

Hi Bette,

Q:  Why did you decide to become a writer?

A:  Writing came naturally for me, Kathleen. Putting words on paper to create a story of sorts was something that I’ve always enjoyed. I worked in the business world, for two decades, before venturing out to the world of kids in the classroom with my teaching degree. I was always writing something; business letters, speeches for executives, and interviewing out in the field for our company’s twelve-page newsletter of which I was editor, designer and desktop publisher. When it came to the classroom, writing with the kids was an adventure.

Q:  What was your goal when you started writing and what is it now?

A:  My goal has always been to write or record anecdotes for readers—whether family, friends, business associates or children—to enjoy. I’ve been writing poetry since the 1970s and am frequently inspired to jot down word nuggets from nature when I’m outdoors walking or gardening. At this point in my life, my goal is to write for my children and grandchildren, so that they’ll have something tangible to remember me by, something that’s part of me.

Q:  Do you have a home office?  Please describe it or tell us where you like to write.

A:  I call my office my Writer’s Nook. It’s an open alcove at the front entry of our home where I tend the wood fire in the winter—a place where I like to read and write no matter the season. It’s a spot where I can have my own space, yet still be connected to whatever is going on around me. I love it, because I never feel isolated or shut off from family.

Q:  How many hours a day do you write?

A:  That depends on what my plans are for a given day. I do spend a lot of time at the computer, but it’s not all writing time. Most days I write for two or three hours. However, if I’m on a mission like writing a book, it might be eight hours or more.

Q:  How many hours a day do you spend on other work related to writing, i.e., research, marketing, etc.

A:  That’s how I spend most of my time. Marketing generally takes up a solid four hours, three times a week. I keep trying to pare it down, but making connections with other writers and readers is an important part of the process and it sure does take time. There are so many new things to learn and share. So many new friends to meet.

Q:  Tell us a little about your books.  Do you have a favorite?

A:  The Tangram Zoo and Word Puzzles Too! published in 1997 by a regional press and self-published in 2012 as a second edition; it’s a great resource for the classroom and home-schoolers, but it’s also great fun for families and kids. Now I’m pleased to call myself an Indie Author.  Both of my children’s books are written and illustrated by yours truly.

AMAZING MATILDA— the inspirational tale of a monarch butterfly—has won two awards for Excellence in Children’s Literature for picture books.

PURE TRASH was written not only as a prequel to my first novel, it is a thought-provoking short story targeted at middle-grade through college students to invoke discussions about poverty, bullying and treating people with respect.

DOG BONE SOUP, my first novel, is a coming of age story set in the 1950s and 60s in rural New England in which Shawn Daniels overcomes the challenges of a life of poverty and abuse through sheer grit and determination with the encouragement a few of the people in his life who believe in him.

I don’t really have a favorite. Each book has a unique purpose and audience, although any of my books can be enjoyed by children and adults alike.

Q:  What is the best advice you can give a new writer?

A:  Read, write, review, edit and make friends. Do these things over and over again. Don’t get discouraged. Join writers’ groups and book clubs, both online and in the real world. Help other writers. Here’s a little poem I wrote to remind myself to keep plugging along…

writers-write-postage-stamp POEM

I wrote it after I finished the fourth draft of my novel.  So now I can remind myself—Never give up!

Q:  When you started writing did you have a mentor?

A:  My first mentors were professors from University of Maine—Sylvester Poulet and Kathryn Olmstead. However, I’ve always been mentored by the writers that I read and the writers that I meet. Mentoring is an ongoing process, much like writing. It’s also something that you become since we’re always learning from one another and teaching one another. So I keep writing, keep reading and keep making friends.

Q:  How do you feel about the books, TV, and movies that are the most popular with young people today?

A:  Being a Boomer, much of what I see in the media today is not what I want my grandchildren to be exposed to on a regular basis. But, I have no doubt that my grandmother probably felt the same way when I was growing up. However, as a writer I feel obligated to write what I would want to read or have my family read. That is a powerful thing. As writers, I belive it is our responsibility to get wholesome character-building literature into the hands of today’s youth.

Q:  If you could say one thing to encourage children to read, what would it be?

A:  “Hey, look at this awesome book—let’s read it!”

Thank you Bette.  As always, I love our conversations.

Bette’s books are available on Amazon.com

BAS Books INSPIRED 2015 (2)

Please visit Bette’s blog:  4writersandreaders.com

 

Emerson and I are always there for you at http://www.kathleenandrewsdavis.com

Kids in the kitchen

Beautiful miniature kitchen

The kitchen is the heart of every home where family and friends prefer to gather.  This special room is where families prepare and eat meals, do homework, play games, and create projects for school and leisure.   It’s the common ground for everything that happens in the home.  Most importantly, it’s where families share time.  It’s also the perfect place to teach teamwork and responsibility.  The story of The Little Red Hen is a perfect example for teaching the children to share the work in order to share the benefit.   Even the youngest children can help set the table, clear the table, and dry dishes. While you’re at it…teach them to cook.  More and more I see young people interested in cooking and baking.

I would like to share a simple recipe with you and your children.  Call it a starter recipe because it’s so easy.  I failed fudge 101 and even managed to mess up the “Foolproof Fudge” recipe, don’t know how, but I did.  After many years of not making fudge I was introduced to Peanut Butter Meltaway Fudge, which I can actually make perfectly every time.  Give it a try and see what you think.

 

Peanut Butter Meltaway Fudge

One 14 ounce bag of white chocolate candy melts

One 14 ounce bag of milk chocolate candy melts

One 12 ounce jar of creamy peanut butter

Spray an 8 x 8-inch or 9 x 9-inch pan or baking dish with nonstick cooking spray and set aside.

Place candy melts and the peanut butter into a large, microwave-safe bowl.  Place bowl in the microwave on high for 60 seconds. Remove, stir, and return to microwave for another 60 seconds.  Remove and stir again.  If lumps remain, return to the microwave for 30 seconds, stir and repeat until all the lumps are gone and mixture is creamy smooth.

Pour mixture into the prepared pan and refrigerate.  When fudge has hardened, remove and place on the counter until it comes to room temperature (this makes it easier to cut).  Cut into squares and serve.  This fudge keeps very well in an airtight container in the refrigerator for several weeks.  Enjoy.

 Plaisier de Veniseminiature kitchen by Cinderella Moments

Do you like the pictures of kitchens?

They’re all dollhouse kitchens!

Books are best friends forever!Books! Artist: unknown

digitalbookcoverupdated (2)EASmokeandMirrors Front Cover (3)-page-001

Emerson’s Attic available at Amazon.com

http://www.kathleenandrewsdavis.com

A horse! A horse!

A horse!  A horse!  My kingdom for a horse….

What young person hasn’t said that or at least thought it?  Maybe not as dramatically as in William Shakespeare’s fictionalized version of King Richard III when he lost his horse in battle, but most of us would have given almost anything for a horse.

Mrs. Deanie Humphrys-Dunne, author, equestrian, and brave spirit thought that too, but for her it was a bigger dream than for most.  You see, Deanie was born with cerebral palsy.  In her Tails of Sweetbriar, Deanie tells her story.  She grew up on a farm surrounded by a loving family and the ever-present focus of her dreams…horses.  Was this a blessing or a cruel joke?  You see, Deanie wasn’t able to walk until she was four years old, and then only with the help of her ingenious and determined father did she master sitting on a horse.

Tails of Sweetbriar is not only a true story, but a great chapter book for young readers and a great read for families as a whole. Young people will love the details about horses, and parents will love the lesson taught of overcoming difficulties to accomplish success.

Ride along with Deanie as she tells her story and teaches all of us about turning challenges into triumphs.

The following questions will give you some insight to this lovely, strong-willed woman.

1.  Why did you decide to become a writer?  I have always been interested in writing, but it was a matter of building confidence so I could actually do it. I wanted to write children’s stories that shared important lessons in an entertaining manner.

2.  What was your goal when you started writing and what is it now?  My goal then and now is to create stories that are fun to read, amusing, and convey helpful lessons. I try not to preach the lessons, but they are subtly included so the readers can think about them.

3.  Do you have a home office?  Please describe it or tell us where you like to write.  Yes, actually I share a small room with our dog, Elliott. My antique desk is here, along with my computer, the printer, the phone, and my chair. Directly behind my chair is Elliott’s crate. He sleeps here at night, or when we are away from home. By the way, Elliott is an important character in three of my books. He’s a mixed-breed terrier, whom we adore. This room has two windows so it’s bright and sunny during the day.

4.  How many hours a day do you write?  I spend various amounts of time writing, depending on the schedule that day. Sometimes I work on a new story, or blog. Other days I spend time reviewing books for other children’s authors. I think it’s important for authors to spend time writing every day so your skills are always improving.

5.  How many hours a day do you spend on other work related to writing, i.e., research, marketing, etc.?  I spend quite a bit of time on promoting my books each day, as well as blogging. I write about real-life children who have done amazing things for the blog section of my website so this requires some degree of research as well. I look for children who have good work ethic, healthy attitudes, or determination, for example. Then they become subjects for my blogs.

6.  Tell us a little about your books.  Do you have a favorite?       I’m not sure that I have a favorite. I would say my award-winning autobiography, Tails of Sweetbrier, might have been the easiest to write because I knew the message I wanted to convey, that all things are possible if you persevere. This book details the challenges I overcame in childhood so that I could realize my dream, against the odds. My Dad made a decision that changed my life. The other books: Charlie the Horse, deanie1Charlene the Star, Charlene the Star and Hattie’s Heroes, and Charlene the Star and Bentley Bulldog, are told from the animals’ points of view. They’re amusing and entertaining. Each of them highlights important lessons like persistence, setting goals, developing natural talents and helping others, as well as kindness.

7.  What is the best advice you can give a new writer?  I would say to always follow your dreams and not be deterred if you have disappointments. Try to use these to motivate you to continue. If you persevere, you are likely to succeed. Quitting   only insures failure.

8.  When you started writing did you have a mentor?  I think the people who encouraged me most were my parents. They always said that I should write stories for children because I had valuable things to share with them. When I studied at   the Institute for Children’s Literature, the instructors were most helpful too.

9.  How do you feel about the books, TV, and movies that are the most popular with young people today?  I wish there were more family oriented movies that would showcase good values, not superficial things like someone’s appearance. I’d like movies to stress that it’s the inside of someone that matters. It’s unfortunate that emphasis is often on less important, material things.

10.  If you could say one thing to encourage children to read, what would it be?  I would tell children that reading can open all kinds of exciting adventures for you. Just imagine you can travel anywhere, you can read about people who have changed lives. There’s no limit to the knowledge that reading offers you.

Thank you so much, Kathleen, for spending time with me today.  It’s been fun to discuss my books with you and I hope your readers enjoy learning about them.

 

Other books by Deanie Humphrys-Dunne.

deanieCharlene's cover from Barnes and Noble

 

 

Deanie’s Website: http://www.childrensbookswithlifelessons.com

Blogs: dhdunne.blogspot.com

Deaniehumphrysdunne.wordpress.com

Deanie’s books are available on amazon and Barnesandnoble.com or by emailing her at deanie@dhdunne.tk for signed copies

They are also on www.Indiediaries.com and  www.coldcoffeepress.com.

 

 

Visit me at http://www.kathleenandrewsdavis.com