You Have A Voice. Use It

Hey Everyone,

So, first of all.  I realize it has been a very long time since I last wrote a piece on my own blog.  There are several reasons for this.  First, I’ve been struggling through some issues in my life dealing with anxiety and depression and just the all around manic pace at which my life happens.  Seconds, I’ve begun doing some freelance writing for other blogs.  It’s been super challenging but fun and interesting at the same time.  Last, I’ve actually been doing something that has been exhilarating and terrifying at the same time.  I’ve been working on self-publishing my own book.

I can proudly say that as of about a week ago.  My book is live on Amazon.com to purchase.  Shameless plug, you can get it for 9.99.  Head to Amazon.com and either search for my name, Erik Steidl, or for the book, The First Ostrich to Fly.  If you’ve been following my blog for a while, you might have read a poem I wrote a while ago called What is No One Ever Told the Ostrich.  If you want to go back to read the poem again, the link is here . The book that I wrote is based on that poem.

So, you might wonder how publishing a book can be terrifying.  I mean, all in all it’s kind of simple.  You write it, edit it, add illustrations (if it is a picture book), and upload it to Amazon.  Then people can buy it.  However, it truly is terrifying for someone like me.  Publishing a book is putting yourself out there.  A lot of emotion and feeling goes into a book and by publishing it, you’re exposing those emotions and feelings to the world.  For an introverted person, that is a very daunting thing to do.

However, I want this post to be an encouragement to you out there if you are like me and you like to keep things close to the vest and safe.  If you have something, an idea, a book, a poem, etc. in your head that you feel would benefit people, then put it out there.  You have a voice and you’ve been given that voice for a reason.  Someone out there needs to hear what you have to say.

I’ve been listening to a lot of podcasts and books by an author named Rob Bell recently.  He is a Christian author and one of the things that he says a lot is that “God is constantly looking for people to join Him in the ongoing creation of the world.”  That is something that I have taken to heart.  Bell talks about how the world is still being created, that we have an opportunity to help shape this ever evolving world into how we want it to look and feel.  We all have voices and we all have passions.  If you see something in the world that you think needs changing, voice that.  If you just want to add positivity into the world, do it!

Like I said, I realize that this can be frightening.  For me, it was terrifying.  I constantly second guessed myself as I went through the process of self-publishing.  Thoughts kept jumping into my head telling me that my book was stupid, that I was dumb for thinking that it was actually something people would want to read.  However, after about a week of having my book out there, the response has been so positive.  The number of people who have reached out to me telling me how much they loved the book has been truly overwhelming.  I think that the same will be true for you as well.  People need to hear what you have to say.  Your words, thoughts, and voice have worth and value.  You have a voice.  Use it.

 

Kid Lit Book Review – Paw Elementary: Roxy’s Adventure to the School Dentist by Katie Melko

Ever been scared to do something for the first time…especially if that thing is going to the dentist?  Heck, some adults (myself included) still get nervous going to the dentist.  That fear, and overcoming that fear, is the theme of the book, Paw Elementary: Roxy’s Adventure to the School Dentist by Katie Melko.

Overview

This book is a fun and fanciful read about a dog, Roxy, who is afraid to go to the dentist.  Her brother, Mason, does not help matters by teasing her about how awful it will be.  After worrying about it all week and trying to find excuses to skip out on the dentist, the day finally comes and Roxy finds out that there was never really anything to be afraid of in the first place.

Outstanding Points

The first thing that I noticed was that all the characters in the book had traditional “pet” names.  There was names like Roxy, Mason, Jasmine, and Harley. (No offense intended for any humans who happen to also have those names).  I thought that those names helped bridge the gap of making personification truly believable.

The illustrations were also very well done.  The book is visually pleasing with the illustrations being full and engaging without looking cluttered.  The characters are believable and expressive.

The plot is just long enough to fill the book without feeling likes it’s banal and overbearing.  I think that children will relate to each situation that Roxy is in and in turn engage with the book and story.

Discussion and Teaching Points

This book is perfect for all sorts of discussion and teaching points.

First, the message that is so obvious to adults is something that makes for good conversation points with children.  Parents/guardians who may be sending their children to school for the first time can talk about how Roxy was scared but there was really no reason to be afraid at all.  Parents/guardians who are encouraging their children to try something new can talk about how new things can be really positive if you can overcome the initial fear of things.

From a teaching standpoint, there are so many fun cross curricular  connections you can make.

In social studies, you could incorporate this book into something like Ruby Bridges.  Talk about how if we’re scared, like Roxy, of doing small things like going to the dentist, imagine how much more courage it took for her to do what she did.  Have students talk about some times in life when they’ve been scared to try something new and how those things turned out when they finally tried them.

TEETH! Lots of things have teeth!  My mind is literally exploding with all the science lessons you could teach on different animal teeth.  Talk about how each animal’s teeth coincide with their diet.  Incorporate the key words herbivore, carnivore, and omnivore.  After studying several examples, you could show just the animals’ teeth and have them first guess the animals’ diets, and then try to guess which animal each set of teeth belongs to.

Overall, I found this book to be really delightful.  I enjoyed it from start to finish.  It’S a great book for children from probably 3 until 7.

The author, Katie Melko, was kind enough to take the time to do an interview with me about her book.  Please keep reading.

Hi Katie!  First, thanks so much for taking the time to do this interview as part of the book review process.  I think that it adds so much to the book to be able to hear some of the things that the author has to say about his/her own book.  

ES – So first, let’s just talk about your book.  Tell us the story behind the story. Where, when, and how did you get the idea/inspiration for a story about a dog who is scared to go to the dentist for the first time?  I assume it probably has something to do with your profession as a dental hygienist?

KM –  Yes, so I’ve worked in public health as an RDH for 10 years, treating children in schools, churchs, soup kitchens, and homeless shelters. The inspiration for the story came from those children that I treated and seeing how scared they were. I wrote this book almost three years ago now and put it away and didn’t take it back out until September of 2017, when my dog Roxy passed away. It was then that I decided to honor her life forever by keeping her alive in pages of children’s books for all to share.

ES – How long was the writing/editing process for you?  From the day you finished the first draft to the day the book launched officially, how long?

KM – Well, from the time I took it back out after it sat for over a year. I took a little over a year from that moment to getting the first print in my hand. I had to really push myself to believe in the journey and step out of my comfort zone to do this project.

ES – What does the writing process look like for you?  Do you bring in other people in the editing process or just step away from the book for a couple days then come back and reread it with fresh eyes to see what needs tweaked?

KM – So I write the story, let it sit for a week or so, reread it and tweak. Then repeat probably two more times before sending it to an editor.

ES – One thing that I loved was that all the characters in the book had names that would be considered good “pet names.”  Roxy, Harley, Jasmine, Luna, etc. Where did those come from/

KM – All of the pet names in the book, are actual pets in my life. Roxy, Noel and Mason are my dogs. Luna is my brothers. Jasmine was my family dog growing up. Harley was my aunts dog. Astoria is my cousins cat. They all have a meaning in my real life.

ES – So, your bio says that you also founded a publishing company, 12 Paws Publishing.  Can you tell me more about that?

KM –  I started 12 Paws Publishing, LLC in December of 2018. I wanted to build a business for my self published work. The name came from my three dogs (12 paws) and the logo looks like a yellow labrador (just like my rescue pups).

ES – Can you tell me a little about the process of finding your illustrator.  Who is she? How did you find her?

KM – Roksana Oslizio is my illustrator and see lives in England! I found her on a facebook group for children’s authors and illustrators and fell in LOVE with her work!

ES – Has it been difficult working with someone who lives on a different continent?  How have you been able to work through those obstacles?

KM – It has honestly been very easy, she is super quick with responding, we communicate via facebook messenger and dropbox! She is an absolutely pleasure to work with and love her work!

ES –  From the outside, it seems as if you have about a hundred different things you do in life right now? Does that ever get exhausting/

KM – I’m very busy, yes! But I love it, and by doing so many different things, I have finally found my passion which is public health dental and creative writing!

ES – Do you ever picture yourself stepping away from the dental hygiene profession and being a full-time author?

KM – This is my big dream, I would love to do this in the future! The main reason I work so hard, I also started writing romance novels! My first one will be out soon hopefully!

ES – Your website says that there is a second book in the works.  Can you tell me a little bit more about that?

KM – Yes! Paw Elementary: Roxy’s Adventure to the Hair Salon

The book walks you through Roxy’s fear of getting her hair trimmed for the first time. She talks to her friends and family about getting her hair trimmed at Honey Bear’s birthday party and why she is just so scared!

ES – Where can people find you, your books, etc.?  Do you have a Twitter, IG, or FB page?

KM – People can purchase my book on my website www.12pawspub.com/shop and follow me on IG, Twitter, FaceBook, and Pinterest @12pawspubllc

The kindle or e-book version is also available on https://www.amazon.com/Paw-Elementary-Adventure-School-Dentist-ebook/dp/B07NFC7C43/ref=sr_1_fkmrnull_1_sspa?crid=2Z2LNA3TYXAXL&keywords=paw+elementary+roxy+adventure&qid=1557931790&s=gateway&sprefix=paw+elementary+rox%2Caps%2C127&sr=8-1-fkmrnull-spons&psc=1