Thursday, July 22, 2010

Interview with Zetta and Mitchell Hupf

I had the double pleasure of interviewing Zetta Hupf and her son and co-author Mitchell. Zetta and I became friends through her blog, The Book Cubby. She has interviewed me in the past and I’m excited she agreed to an interview herself along with her very talented son.

Zetta and Mitchell are co-authors of several children’s books including Alex Fox Moves to Town, Max and Daisy’s Adventure to the Big Woods, Henry Goes to the Park, and Detective Buddy and the Case of the Missing Football. Her books are available on and through her website.

But enough about that. On to our interview.

BJS: Tell me a little about yourself.

I am originally from a small town called Thomas, WV and now live in Wisconsin. I joined the army straight out of high school. and met my husband, Chris, while serving. We have a 12-year-old son, Mitchell, who is the co-author of our children’s books. I am a huge dog/animal lover. I guess that’s why our characters are mostly animals.

Mitchell: I’m 12 years old and love the outdoors. I enjoy hunting, fishing, football, riding ATVs and most anything to do with wildlife.

What is your latest published work?

Zetta: Detective Buddy and the Case of the Missing Football.

BJS: Why did you write this book?

Zetta: We had recently adopted our dog Buddy from the Humane Society and loved watching him try to sniff around and find things.

Mitchell: He reminded us of a detective trying to find his clues. So he soon became Detective Buddy!

BJS: Where do you get your ideas?

Zetta: We like to get our ideas from everyday life. Things that we like to talk about and things that we think other children will enjoy reading about. Or playing out the scenes after reading the story.

BJS: What are you working on right now?

Zetta: We have two stories in the works right now.

Mitchell: The first is: My Dad is a Soldier, Yes, He Is. It’s a story of a little child missing his dad who has gone off to war.

Zetta: Our second is The Hunt For Underwater Treasure. It’s a story about Tony Turtle, a young turtle who has heard many stories about a treasure lost at sea. Tony sets out to find it.

BJS: Do you use a set process when you write such as outlining, or do you just sit and type?

Zetta: We usually create drawings while watching a movie or by playing our travel game. One makes a squiggle and the other has to create something out of it. Once we have a character drawn that we really like, then we’ll sit together and write in a notebook the type of story we could see that character in. We really feed our ideas off of one another.

BJS: What do you like the most about writing?

Mitchell: We really like seeing the story take shape and can’t wait to see the completion. It’s truly amazing to see the story bring the characters to life.

BJS: Who is your favorite author and why?

Zetta: Jane Austen-Her stories are so pure and truly amazing for her time.

Mitchell: S.E. Hinton (The Outsiders), J.K. Rowlings (the Harry Potter Series) and Gary Paulsen (Brian Saga)

BJS: Do you have any advice for other new or wannabe authors?

Zetta: Stay true to yourself. Always write about things that you believe in. Try writing with a child, it is amazing. You will get wonderful ideas from a kid’s point of view, not to mention how much fun it is to create together.

Mitchell: And never give up.

BJS: Is there anything else you'd like to add?

Zetta: You can find out more about us and our stories by visiting us on our website.

BJS: Thank you so much for taking the time for this interview.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Get the Tissues Ready

Same Kind of Different as Me by Ron Hall and Denver Moore is a well-written true story about two men from two totally different backgrounds. Ron is a white Texan who makes a very good living as an art dealer. He and his wife Deborah live the good life but also want to do the Christian thing in helping others. Denver is a black man who grows up poor as a “free” version of a slave. He makes what little money is to be had by picking cotton for “The Man,” but he never manages to get out of debt. He finally decides to hop a train and leave Louisiana for good. He ends up in Texas but lives on the streets until he finally meets up with the Halls.

Denver is not a nice man as he has to live tough to survive. Ron wants to look good but his heart isn’t necessarily where Deborah’s is. They work at a homeless mission where all three lives finally cross. It’s not happy ever after from there though. It’s a struggle to befriend Denver. And it’s tough for Ron to completely open his heart. But Deborah manages to handle both men and eventually a true friendship develops.

The story is told by each man from his own point of view. It’s well done, except for some redundancy in their stories. That’s the only part of the book I didn’t care for as I felt they were telling me the same thing over and over again. But no one can read this book without being touched. And no one will be able to read it without a lot of tissues.

Deborah, or Miss Debbie as Denver refers to her, is the woman who pulls the men together. This is a story of this remarkable woman told by two remarkable men. Same Kind of Different as Me will definitely touch whoever reads it.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Book-Reading and Signing Event July 17th

Saturday, July 17th 1:00 - 3:00 p.m. at Borders, 325 US Highway 202, Flemington, NJ - I’ll be reading and signing A Surprise for Grandmother Rabbit. Come by to see me.

Friday, July 9, 2010

Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet

Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet, by Jamie Ford is a light story that deals with a serious subject. It is told by Henry, a Chinese boy who falls for Keiko, a Japanese girl. Keiko and her family are “relocated” to an internment camp with the other Japanese living in the United States after the Pearl Harbor attack.

Henry tells his story both from his adolescent years and again as an adult. As a child, he deals with a strong-willed father who hates the Japanese and his caring and understanding, yet obedient, mother. Henry struggles to visit Keiko while she’s in the internment camp but they eventually lose track of each other. It tells his story of trying to find her again as an adult. The book definitely gives the reader a good history lesson but with a light and often sad storyline. It shows how many wore blinders when it came to the Japanese who were once their neighbors during the war years. The story also shows the Japanese-American’s point of view and living conditions in the camps.

Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet is very informative but needs a bit more pizzazz to keep a reader’s interest.

Friday, July 2, 2010

You Can Be Everything God Wants You to Be

You Can Be Everything God Wants You to Be by Max Lucado is a quick read with a good message. Lucado is aiming his message at the teenager or young adult population in this little book but almost anyone can use the book to steer his or her life in a better direction. Basically, the book tells us to find the “sweet spot” of life and go for it.

If you’re less than happy in your job, studies, or life in general, you may find Lucado’s encouragement helpful in turning that around. Don’t tolerate the job and career – change it. Life is to be enjoyed and reading this will help you to figure out how to do just that. This motivational little book makes a terrific gift but be sure to purchase one for yourself too. An excellent message!