AUTHOR INTERVIEW: Yoga master, Muz Murray and Ifflepinn Island

Children’s Books, Picture Books

Welcome to my guest blog series:

Success in the Arts – Touching the Lives of Children

This week I’m featuring author, yoga master and world adventurer, Muz Murray.

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Can you tell us briefly what Ifflepinn Island is about?

The unwitting hero, Iffleplum, is an ifflepinn—a slightly Moomin-like character – full of fantasizing and bravado, who loses the spirit of his heart because of his wild fancies. As a result, he is hurled high into the sky on a raging waterspout and carried away in the nets of a ghostly flying Ship of Light.  From the he’s carried to strange and mysterious realms, where he encounters bizarre beings such as Dream-herders, trolls, and an ogre, then captured by goblin-like creatures known as ‘Ghòrs.’

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It sounds exciting!  Is this aimed at any specific age-group?

No. It’s basically for everyone who loves stories like The Hobbit and the Chronicles of Narnia. It appeals to children from seven upwards, as well as to teenagers.  I also find many adults are buying it for themselves, as it teaches many secrets of life sprinkled amid the adventures.

You have a uniquely poetic style of writing.  How did you come to write this way? 

I can’t take the credit: that’s just the way it comes through me. As a poet, I naturally developed a rhythmic prose. I just enjoyed playing with the words because of having no specific plot when I started to write the book.

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How did you manage to develop your story without a plot?

I didn’t. It was years before I found out what the story was going to be about. I created a mysterious owl-eyed character as a ‘hook’ but had no idea what he was there for. Having to figure a reason forced the story on. Once I discovered the theme of the hero’s quest I kept creating cliff-hanger ‘hooks’ at the end of every chapter. Then I had to spend several months wondering how to get Iffleplum out of the predicament I had put him in.

What guidance would you offer to someone who is trying to enhance their craft as a writer?

Immerse yourself in the protagonist’s situation and make sure you live in his head, so you stay in character and are true to his reactions and not yours. Characters grow in your mind and gradually take over. They will tell you how they would speak or react.

My own revisions went on for nearly 60 years, in between my painting, travelling the world, leading workshops and the obligatory efforts at keeping the wolf from the door.

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Is there a message you hope readers will come away with?

Well, the basic theme of Ifflepinn Island is—“Follow your heart”—and avoid losing your spirit by negative thinking and foolish desires.

My hope is that the spiritual teachings that are slipped into the adventures of the hero will colour the consciousness of children and give them greater understanding of how to deal with life, as well as making their creative imaginations soar.

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Here I am in my Gandalf or Dumbledore mode!

Author Bio

 I started out as a surrealist painter, then a writer, actor and theatrical and film designer during seven years of vagabondage around the word. I hitch-hiked down the length of Africa, spent 3 years as a wandering monk in India; became founder-editor of Gandalf’s Garden magazine and Community and co-founder of The Open Centre for spiritualized psychotherapy in London. For the last 50 years I have quietly travelled the world as a spiritual mentor and Mantra Master, teaching Mantra and Advaita Vedanta workshops in many countries.

Because of my many hairy years on the road—trekking down Africa, crossing deserts, living with the Dervishes in Turkey and Iran, and clinging to the outside of an express train for 10 hours through the night in India—the Mind-Body-Spirit  journals have called me ‘the Indiana Jones of Yoga.’

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Would you like to guest blog on my site?  Just go to this link and follow the directions!  http://wp.me/p2sJaM-rV

Guest blogger host, Joseph Drumheller, is an award-winning author and energy healer.  He creates children’s books for Golden Bell Entertainment.   For more info please visit his website at:

www.josephdrumheller.com

Joe headshot color

 

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…Utterly Charming…Children’s Book Review, Jason and the Crawdad King

Children’s Books, Picture Books

Welcome to my guest blog series:

Success in the Arts – Touching the Lives of Children

This week I’m honored to have our first children’s book, Jason and the Crawdad King, reviewed by author and mystic / mantra yoga master Muz Murray.

page_3_no_text_smallAn utterly charming little book. Jason kind-heartedly rescues a crawdad (a kind of lobster) tangled in a fishing line, and as good deeds never go unrewarded, in his dream that night the mysterious Crawdad King endows him with creative intelligence. He awakens with a new enthusiasm for life and the desire to help the world with his creativity.

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What took me out of his magical world a little was the fact that Jason’s assistants are little ‘angels’. For wider appeal, I would have thought nature spirits would have served the story better.

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Otherwise, the story and book is full of light, especially enhanced by the stunning and magical illustrations of Lili Avakem, which will keep children (and adults) enthralled for years to come.

Pre-order here:  Jason and the Crawdad King

Reviewer Bio

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Muz Murray is an author and world-travelling mystic master with an international reputation, having given guidance for many years in his “SHARING THE QUEST” workshops—on Mantra Yoga, Mystical Awakening, Massage and Meditation—in the UK and Europe. He follows the way of the Universal Mystic—the Path of the Heart—embracing the essence of all traditions, but is attached to none.

Follow Muz:

Website: www.mantra-yoga.com 

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/MantraMuz 

YouTube: http://www.youtube.com/user/MuzMantraYoga


Would you like to guest blog on my site?  Just go to this link and follow the directions!  http://wp.me/p2sJaM-rV

Guest blogger host, Joseph Drumheller, is an award-winning author and energy healer.  He creates children’s books for Golden Bell Entertainment.   For more info please visit his website at:

www.josephdrumheller.com

Joe headshot color

 

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Why Write for Children?  To Light the Fire Within!

Children’s Books, Picture Books

Welcome to my guest blog series:

Success in the Arts – Touching the Lives of Children

This week I’m featuring children’s author, blogger and freelance writer, Wanda Luthman, a high school guidance counselor,  living in Florida.

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There’s something about autumn that makes us want to run outside and leap in the air! Or maybe that’s just Floridians (maybe not). In Florida, you see, it’s very hot in the summer. How hot, you ask? So, hot that you can’t breathe. I mean, you walk outside and immediately your clothes need to be wrung out from the humidity causing you to sweat.

So, when the sweet coolness of autumn finally comes (and it does come in Florida), we want to run outside and hug the air! It’s “our” time now. You northern folks will soon be getting snow and along with that pictures of beautiful sunny (but cool days) from your Floridian friends. And we will laugh. (You know we love to laugh.)

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Ok, you get the picture. What I mean is that autumn fills everyone, everywhere with a wonderful sense of happiness because of the vibrant colors outside our window and cooling air that breathes new life into us. For us writers, we enjoy sipping our pumpkin spiced lattes and settling in for a nice time of writing.

And so here I am, tired from leaping and hugging the cool crisp Floridian air, ready to tell you about why I write a blog about Character Education.

I’m a High School Guidance Counselor and I love kids! I also hold a license in Mental Health Counseling. I’m 52 years old (whoops, did I let that slip out?), so I have a lot of experience. What I can say is that kids are marvelous creatures. We honestly don’t give them enough credit. They go through all kinds of hardships and even though they struggle and some make poor decisions, most come out happy, healthy adults. How does that happen, you ask? Well, it’s because of character, good character that is.

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When we think of good character we think of our heroes who are independent, strong, courageous, kind and thoughtful especially for the underdog, respectful, and most of all just plain neat. We want to be like them and often we have bits of these characteristics within ourselves. Not always and not in all situations, but when the situation calls for us to be courageous, we rise to that occasion. We do this because we had good, or maybe even great, role models. Sometimes role models come from TV and movies but more often than not they are the parent or the teacher whom we felt loved us. Who took the time to get to know us and what we were about and who encouraged us to be everything we could be.

So, today, as the leaves turn a bit more gold than yesterday, reach out to that child next to you and tell them you love them. Ask them something about themselves and really listen (without judgement). Strive to be a good, or even great, role model. Encourage independent, creative thinking and help them find their passion in life. When you light that fire in a child, they grow up to be fulfilled because they are living out their purpose. When they are living out their purpose, they make the world a better place.

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And that’s why I write a blog about Character Education. I want to encourage you—the parent or the teacher—to not only teach good character, but live it out as an example so you can help those kids you love grow up to be happy, healthy adults who are living out their passion and changing the world. Be their hero!

Bio

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Wanda Luthman is a Children’s Author, Blogger, Freelance Writer and High School Guidance Counselor. She wants to encourage children to be all they can be and to encourage parents and teachers in their efforts to help children grow up with good character. Her books entertain children and are infused with positive character traits. They are available on Amazon and B&N.com. She holds a Masters of Arts in both Mental Health Counseling and Guidance Counseling from Rollins College located in beautiful Winter Park, Florida. She presently resides in Brevard County Florida with her husband of 21 years and 2 yorkies.

You can follow her blog, Wanda Luthman’s Children’s Books, at www.wandaluthman.wordpress.com. When you visit my blog, there’s a pop up to sign up for my newsletter (it’s only sent 4x/year and is never sold), you will get a free exclusive gift from me to you!

If you read this blog and want to know more about her books, email her at wandalu64@gmail.com and put JOSEPHDRUMHELLER BLOG in the subject line. She’ll email you a coupon for a free audiobook of the children’s book of your choice (The Lilac Princess; A Turtle’s Magical Adventure; Little Birdie Grows Up).

Would you like to guest blog on my site?  Just go to this link and follow the directions!  http://wp.me/p2sJaM-rV

Guest blogger host, Joseph Drumheller, is an award-winning author and energy healer.  He creates children’s books for Golden Bell Entertainment.   For more info please visit his website at:

www.josephdrumheller.com

Joe headshot color

 

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How to Become an Award-Winning and Published Illustrator

Children’s Books, Picture Books

Welcome to my guest blog series:

Success in the Arts – Touching the Lives of Children

This week I’m featuring award-winning illustrator Lili Avakem, originally from Tehran, Iran and now living in LA.

Over the past year, I’ve had the incredible opportunity of becoming an award-winning and published illustrator with children’s book, Jason and the Crawdad King.   In gratitude for my good fortune, I’d like to share a few tips I’ve learned along the way.

Jason and the Crawdad King - Lili Avakem

Jason and the Crawdad King – Lili Avakem

1.  Set and Maintain a Personal Standard of Excellence

With the right combination of aesthetic and design, you can turn a good idea into a great piece of illustration.  Some of the most important factors are: attention to detail, composition, design skills, quality control, an dynamic images.

2.  Love Your Work

You need to create art that tickles your fancy.  To create value in your artwork, your art should please yourself first.  The heart and soul you put into your work will show in the final product.

You know, I love the satisfaction of creating an image, designing it, going into the whole process, drawing it, and painting it.  That’s what makes me the happiest in life.  Creating art feeds my soul.  I don’t believe I picked art, it picked me.

I also love seeing comments; I love seeing people’s reactions.  To me, that is the real pay off.  I don’t think any artist can live without that satisfaction!

In answer to this question: “Do you think you would create art if you were the only person on earth?”  I don’t think I would, I need to see people’s reactions.

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3.  Practice, Practice, Practice

You need to sacrifice many things to reach your goals. Keep illustrating even if times are lean as a freelancer.  Your work will evolve.

4.  Be Professional

Show up and finish projects on time.  Do good work.  Be honest and upfront.  Communicate in a timely fashion.  Be personable, friendly and easy to work with.

5.  Enter Contests

I won a contest through an internet freelancing website.  That award led to additional work to illustrate children’s picture books.  It also created additional exposure I wouldn’t have gotten otherwise.

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6.  Post Your Work Regularly on Social Media

Magic can happen on the internet.  Posting my work on the internet led to an invitation to showcase my work through RAW in Hollywood.  It’s also led to book reviews and other showcase opportunities on social media.

7.  Dare to Dream Big

In order to create great artwork, you have to start by first understanding who you are and what kind of message you want to bring to the world.  You have to dare the dream and believe that you can create almost anything you put your mind to.  Keep in mind,  it’s not going to be happen overnight.  It’s a lifelong pursuit.

Bio

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Lili Avakem is a remarkable illustrator who works with a magic wand of color.  At night, she sprinkles pixie dust in the dreams of children around the world.

During the day, she’s a freelance illustrator, character designer, and graphic designer–specializing in hand-painted digital images, using a Wacom Cintiq HD Touch and Photoshop.

She’s always looking for new and interesting projects!  You can reach her here:  Lili’s Webpage

 


Would you like to guest blog on my site?  Just go to this link and follow the directions!  http://wp.me/p2sJaM-rV

Guest blogger host, Joseph Drumheller, is an award-winning author and energy healer.  He creates children’s books for Golden Bell Entertainment.   For more info please visit his website at:

www.josephdrumheller.com

Joe headshot color

 

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How to Successfully Market a Kickstarter Campaign

Children’s Books, Picture Books

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If you’re thinking of using Kickstarter to fund your independent art project, you might want to stop a think for a few moments about how you’re going to beg for the dough.

If your pockets are deep, or if you have a long-lost uncle with a fluffy bank account, no problem.  Just write a check on day one, and BINGO, goal achieved.  But that kind of defeats the whole spirit of the adventure.

If your approach is going to be more grassroots, like us, here’s a few things we’d like to share that helped us scale our way to the lofty summit of $1,000 USD.  Keep in mind, we had a pretty solid Kickstarter page, complete with videos, and a snappy  little reward tier for donations.  Here’s the link to what it looked like: Our KS campaign

page_3_no_text_smallFirst off, we we’re trying to fund our first children’s picture book, Jason and the Crawdad King.  We had three different people working on it.  My publisher (Golden Bell), myself, and our illustrator (Lili Avakem).

The Publisher

The publisher worked up FB (Facebook) ads and got some of his colleagues to post promotional blogs.  He also contacted FB friends personally, with a promotional blurb, and posted on FB.  He also may of done some other campaign-type stuff that I wasn’t aware of.

The Author

I sent out 1800 personal messages to FB friends.  (This was a pretty uncomfortable task because it felt a little spammy.  However, my other option was to do nothing and…well…marketing isn’t for the shy or timid.  Plus, I got about 10% direct positive feedback and only 2 Negative Nancy’s.)  I also posted on FB regularly and placed one $35 ad.  Next, I sent out a couple of newsletters to my email list; one at the beginning of the campaign and one at the end.  And of course, I contacted friends and family by word of mouth (that produced the greatest results).

The Illustrator

Lili contacted friends on FB and posted or shared my posts regularly.

All in all, it was a very focused grassroots marketing campaign.  We were somewhat disappointed by the results at the beginning and I panicked a bit as we neared the end, short of out goal.  But when all was said and done, we made it.  It was our concentrated, collective effort that got us there.

If you have any further questions, please let us know.  We’d like everyone (including us) to be successful!

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 Guest blogger host, Joseph Drumheller, is an award-winning author and energy healer.  He creates children’s books for Golden Bell Entertainment.

If you’d like to guest blog or want more info into the worlds, books, meditation, healing, and spirituality, please visit my website at:

www.josephdrumheller.com

Joe headshot color

 

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5 Tips For Constructing Your Next Best-Selling Book

Children’s Books, Picture Books, Literature

Welcome to my weekly guest blog series for authors, writers and illustrators:

This week I’m featuring an American author of fiction, plays, and chilren’s books, Trisha Sugarek, who just completed her latest novel, Song of the Yukon.

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5 Tips To Construct Your Next Best-Selling Novel

It took me three years to write this saga. (87K words) I didn’t know it at the time, but I was letting it ‘rest’ at certain points and I think it is a better story for it.

Let It Flow

I have learned over the years to let it flow organically; when characters come busting through the door, I welcome them in.  They always tell me their story and it always fits with what I am writing. The indigenous people in Song of the Yukon joined me early on. Black-eyed Joe was sitting in the back of the village store and LaVerne (heroine) and I were both surprised to find him there. Then I went on to meet Joe’s brother, Elk-tail and his mother Edna.

2-violet-laverneLet the Characters Take Over

Without exception, at some point (early, if I’m lucky) my characters take over the story and I become the typist. I interview authors on my blog and so many of them say the same thing, so, with relief, I find I’m not as crazy as I thought I was.

Draw on Experience

The story about my Auntie LaVerne running away to Alaska is a true family tale. So all I had to do was pull from the many stories my mother told me as a child.

Do Your Research

But, living ‘off the grid’ in Alaska in the 1920’s?  This is where the Internet can be a writer’s best tool. Can you believe that we used to have to go to the library and do all this research, pouring through books?  With a couple of clicks I was able to use the Athabascan (native American) language, their folk lore and their customs. I was able to build a dog sled, from scratch with only wood.  I was able to set a fur trapping line. I was able to build a cabin with only hand tools. (think about it) I was able to train puppies to become a dog sled team. I was able to describe, accurately, a funeral potlatch.

guyer_girls_the_Stick To It

My advice to other writers is: write every day. If you get stuck, let the story rest; go write something else.  And never, never give up!

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Bio:  Trisha Sugarek has enjoyed a twenty year career writing stage plays, fiction, children’s books and poetry. In addition to a half a dozen full length plays, she expanded her body of work to include four children’s books, eight novels, of which five are a series of true crime mysteries. She has written a collection of ten minute plays for the classroom.  Most recently she created four journal/handbooks (instructional) for writers. Her active blog encourages and helps other writers.

Trisha lives in Savannah, Georgia with her golden retriever, Gusto and a ridge-back hound, Miss Molly and their cat, Fiona.

Visit Trisha: www.writeratplay.com

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 Guest blogger host, Joseph Drumheller, is an award-winning author and energy healer.  He creates children’s books for Golden Bell Entertainment.

If you’d like to guest blog or want more info into the worlds, books, meditation, healing, and spirituality, please visit my website at:

www.josephdrumheller.com

Joe headshot color

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How to Discover the ‘Magic’ of Energy Healing

Spirituality, Meditation and Energy Healing

I’ve been working in the world of energy healing for decades.  Over the years, I get inquires like the one I received recently.

Energy Healing

It went something like this:

“I have been getting energy healings from lots of people in the past but what struck me was that there was one thing that was unique on your site as compared to others, i.e. ‘permanent results’.  I hope it is true, and if so, please confirm so that I can start sessions with you.  I’m much in need of a miracle.”

Awakening

I responded:

“Thanks for you inquiry.  I have 25 years experience as an energy healer and spent six of those years working in a cancer radiation clinic.  Clients I have worked with who have experienced ‘permanent results’ are people who are deeply committed to their own healing process and education in self-awareness.  In short, they are open to doing what ever it takes to improve the quality of their lives.  This is a critical and necessary component to healing.

“Why?  Because I do not do the healing.  I only facilitate a process to help people access the deeper parts of themselves to do their own healing.  Although miracles can and do happen, there are generally no quick fixes or magical cures.  Healing tends to be gradational, through the effort of reaching deep inside yourself.  I can assist you in that process.

“So if you want to work with me, think it over.  I am focused on results but only if you’re willing to put in the work.  Thanks so much for contacting me.”

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Like so many of us, my friend above sees energy healing as something shrouded in a magical cloak of mystery.  I think that happens because we don’t fully understand it yet.  But we’re getting there.  As forge ahead and come to a deeper understanding of our energetic natures, we’ll begin to understand the ‘miraculous’ in a different light.  We’ll see miracles as a natural part of being human (homework and all).

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 Joseph Drumheller, is an award-winning author and energy healer.  He creates children’s books for Golden Bell Entertainment.

If you’d like to guest blog or want more info into the worlds, books, meditation, healing, and spirituality, please visit my website at:

Joe headshot colorwww.josephdrumheller.com

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