Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Ten Questions with Tom Listul and Heather Listul Hewitt

Today’s interview is with authors, Tom Listul and Heather Listul Hewitt.  They are father and daughter, but they are also co-authors of the children’s book, Monkey Made Dream.

Tom wrote Monkey Made Dream with his daughter, Heather, when she was eight years old.  A farmer from southwest Minnesota, he is also a singer/songwriter.  Listul made Monkey Made Dream into a children's song and has sang it at numerous coffee houses and children's classrooms. 

Hewitt is now a school speech-language pathologist, who works with students of all ages.  She enjoys helping children develop literacy skills and a love for reading.

Could you tell us a little about yourself?

Tom: I was born and raised in southwestern MN.  I am a farmer by trade, but have also been a musician all of my life.  I started writing songs around the age of 15 and have had some songs published in the past.  Our book, Monkey Made Dream, came from a song that my daughter and I wrote when she was about 8 years old.  I saved the song and developed it into a children’s book.  My daughter got married this summer, so I gave it to her as a present for Christmas.

Heather: I’m the daughter, and I was thrilled to see a finished copy of Monkey Made Dream! Writing the book with my dad is a great memory for me. I am a school speech-language pathologist, and I work with students of all ages. I love reading and writing, and I enjoy sharing my excitement with my students.

Could you describe your desk/workspace?

Tom: I have a music studio where I can get away and spend time working on different things.  My desk is crammed with a lot of projects that I’m working on.  When I am writing I try to keep my focus so I might clear an area just so I am not distracted by anything.  Lately, I grab my laptop and go somewhere.

Do you have a favorite quote?

Tom: I don’t remember from where or who from, but I just remember two that I like – 'the glass is half full' and 'treat people as you would want to be treated.' So, I try to remember that throughout this process called life.

Heather: I like the Bible verse from Jeremiah 29: “For I know the plans I have for you,' declares the Lord, 'plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”

If you could have coffee with anyone (living or dead, real or fictional), who would it be and why?

Tom: Musically, I would love to have coffee with Paul McCartney.  I would like to hear what process the Beatles used to create such a great body of songs.  I also like history, so I think having coffee with George Washington – Abraham Lincoln would be fantastic.

Heather: I would like to talk to Oprah Winfrey and hear her story in person.

What are your top three favorite books and why?

Tom: I like history so – Lewis and Clark Expedition – Life of John Lennon – Eric Clapton

Heather: The Outsiders by S.E. Hinton - I really enjoyed the story in high school.  Where is the Mango Princess?  by Cathy Crimmins - A great story about a person surviving a traumatic brain injury.  Tuesdays with Morrie by Mitch Albom – Neat story, that is really well written.

What was your favorite book as a child and why?

Tom: I was a big Hardy Boys fan.

Heather: I enjoyed Jan Brett books when I was younger, because of the illustrations and creative stories.

What would you say is your most interesting writing quirk?

Tom: Sometimes I write in strange places, - on a tractor, at a meeting, on a combine during harvest.

Heather: I have not been able to write as much as I would have liked the past few year, because I was working on my Master’s degree, but I have to read what I write aloud to myself a few times so I can decide if I like it.


 What are your current marketing strategies for Monkey Made Dream?

Tom: We self published our book because we wanted to have a say in how things should proceed.  As of now, our book is on Amazon, Barnes & Nobles, Book World, Trafford Publishing and other web sites. Facebook is playing a role in getting our story out to the public.  World of Ink Tour has been an outlet for showcasing our book with positive reviews.  On the local level, we are having a book signing day in two local towns.  We have had local advertising in our newspaper and we will be placing Monkey Made Dream in stores in the surrounding area.

Could you share about any current writing projects?

Tom: I have songs that are being pitched to artists and record companies.  I am also coming up with new ideas for another children’s book.

Is there anything else you'd like to share?

Tom: This is a new experience for us, so I don’t feel qualified to give advice.  All I know is that writing has become an outlet for me.  I think that putting down an idea on paper and watching it take on its own identity is something special.  Now I am beginning to understand why there are so many books in the book store.
Heather: Enjoy the writing process!

I'd like to thank you both for a great interview!

Monday, March 28, 2011

A Review of Monkey Made Dream

Monkey Made Dream

Written by Tom Listul and Heather Listul Hewitt

Illustrated by Jenna Hildahl

Ages 4 - 8

ISBN: 978-1-4269-4986-9

Published in December 2010

Published by Trafford Publishing

Monkey Made Dream is a fictional children's story about a little girl who wakes up to find a big surprise - there is a monkey in her brother's bed!  She experiences a whole day with the monkey from getting him dressed to taking him to school, and she wonders all along if her brother has really changed into a monkey.  The book captures a magical day with twists and turns as a little girl discovers that dreams can come true!

Monkey Made Dream is a delightful story about a young girl who wakes up one morning to find that it is no ordinary day.  Not finding her little brother in his bed, there is instead a monkey smiling back at her!  The young girl is amazed to find that her mother, teacher and friends don't seem to find it strange that there is a monkey with her.  Has her little brother really changed into a monkey, or is it all just a dream? 

I think young children will enjoy reading this whimsical book about a young girl and a monkey who seems to have replaced her brother.  The colorful, full page illustrations add to the whimsy of the story told in Monkey Made Dream

To get your own copy of Monkey Made Dream, you can find it at Barnes and,, and Better World Books.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Ten Questions with Sherry Ellis

Today my interview is with Sherry Ellis.

Ms. Ellis is a freelance writer who writes articles for parenting magazines and children’s publications.  Her first book, That Baby Woke Me Up, AGAIN, was published in 2005.  Her second book, That Mama is a Grouch, was published in May of 2010.  It was honored as a finalist in the Parenting/Family category of the 2010 USA Book News Awards. 

Sherry is a professional musician who plays and teaches violin, viola, and piano.  She also enjoys hiking, bike-riding, and SCUBA diving.  She used to be a PADI SCUBA diving instructor before she had kids.

Ms. Ellis lives in Loveland, Ohio with her husband and two children.

Could you describe your desk/workspace?

This may sound funny, but most of the time, my “workspace” is my bedroom floor.  It’s a place where I can go and not be bothered by kids or animals.  Usually I sit down with a pencil and notebook.  If I’m doing research for a project, I may have books scattered around me.  This is where I do most of my creating.  Later, I’ll go to the computer to type the manuscript.  That workspace is a desk that’s usually covered with my husband’s motorcycle catalogues.

What is the best advice you've ever received?

Don’t be afraid to try new things.  I can’t even remember who told me that- maybe my mom.  It’s really good advice.  If you try new things, you never know what doors may open for you.

If you could have coffee with anyone (living or dead, real or fictional), who would it be and why?

Do I really have to pick just one person?  There are so many people I’d like to chat with!  I guess today’s pick would be Jane Yolen.  She is one of my favorite children’s authors.  I’d like to hear her story:  how she got started, what inspires her, the ups and downs of her long career.  I’m sure it would be a fascinating conversation.

What are your top three favorite books and why?

Tuesdays with Morrie by Mitch Albom is my number one favorite book.  It really makes you think about what’s important in life!

Sarah’s Key by Tatiana de Rosnay is a heartbreaking story of a Jewish girl living in Paris during the Holocaust.  It really hits close to home for me.  My husband lost nearly all of his family in the Holocaust.  I cry every time I read it.  I think this book is an example of well-done historical fiction.

I like the Harry Potter books as well.  (I know, there is more than one book in the series.)  They are all well-written and I think the characters are interesting.  Every time I read the books, I notice something new.

What was your favorite book as a child and why?

My favorite book as a child was James and the Giant Peach by Roald Dahl.  I was in the second grade when my teacher read it to the class.  I was captivated by the story.  When the teacher finished a chapter, I didn’t want her to stop.  I wanted to know what happened next.  That’s how good stories should be.

What are your current marketing strategies for That Mama is a Grouch?

My current strategy for marketing my book includes doing radio interviews, networking on author sites such as Filedby, Authors Den, and Jacketflap, and visiting bookstores and libraries.  I do a fun Pajama Party Story Time where the kids are invited to wear their pajamas and bring their favorite teddy bears.  I show up in my pajamas and we all have a fun evening of music, games, and stories.

Could you share about any current writing projects?

I am working on a series of books for middle-grade readers:  The Adventures of Bubba and Squirt.  I recently completed the first draft of the first book in the series, Big Hole to China.  These books are similar to the Magic Tree House series by Mary Pope Osborne.  The main characters will travel to different countries where they will learn a little about the culture, language, and history of the people there.  There will be adventures to experience and mysteries to solve along the way as well.

What would be the best way for readers to contact you?

Readers can visit my website,, and click on the “contact us” link.  I’m also on Facebook and Twitter.

Where can people find your books, That Baby Woke Me Up, AGAIN, and That Mama is a Grouch?

My books can be found on Amazon and Barnes and Noble.  You can also find them at and

Is there anything else you'd like to share?

If you are an aspiring author, my advice would be to read.  Read as much as you can so that you get a good sense of what readers like, and what publishers want to see.  

Would you like a chance at receiving your own copy of That Mama is a Grouch?  Then be sure to check out these giveaway details:

Open to followers of this blog with a US or Canadian mailing address

Ends 3/31/2011

You are not required to follow this blog to enter.  

Followers recieve one (+1) extra entry.

If you 'Like' Sherry Ellis' Facebook Fan Page URL:  (+1) extra entry

If you 'Like' Stories for Children's Facebook Fan Page URL:!/pages/Stories-for-Children-Magazine/101731646536813  (+1) extra entry

If you follow Sherry Ellis on Twitter URL:  (+1) extra entry

If you follow Stories for Children on Twitter URL:
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You must leave a comment to enter.

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Tuesday, March 22, 2011

A Review of That Mama is a Grouch

That Mama is a Grouch

Written by Sherry Ellis

Illustrated by Don Berry

Published in May 2010

ISBN: 978-1-4505-3565-6

Published by CreateSpace

Synopsis of Book
In That Mama is a Grouch, an intelligent and very wise narrator reminds us in charming rhyme that mothers are human, most often loving, and that certain situations will guarantee driving them to their breaking point.  Children from three to seven will delight in this story of a mommy who’s nearly out of control, and they will learn the importance of something as simple as putting away toys.

My Review
That Mama is a Grouch is a delightful picture book for young children, ages 3 - 7.  It is about a little girl who scatters her toys all over the house without thought to anyone else's safety.  Even after several other mishaps, the little girl can't understand why her mama is such a grouch.  Does the house stay messy?  Does Mama stay a grouch?  I'm not going to tell.  You'll have to read this book to find out for yourself!

This is a story that any mother with children will identify with.  Who hasn't had to deal with toys scattered all over the house at one time or another?  Children will get the message about keeping their toys picked up without ever feeling they are being preached at.  Sherry Ellis does a wonderful job of getting an important message across  to young children, using rhyme in a fun way.  The wonderful illustrations, by Don Berry, compliment the story.

I think that teachers will also find this book helpful when teaching children the importance of keeping the classroom tidy and safe.

I don't have a young child to share this book with, but it did bring back some memories of times when I was a grouch to my son, when he'd leave his toys lying all over the place.  Perhaps if we'd had this book to read, we might have avoided some grouchy moments in my house.  I recommend all parents, grandparents, and teachers share this book with the young children in their life.

Monday, March 14, 2011


Just wanted to make a quick post to say hi to everyone!  I haven't blogged in about a week and a half because I've been distracted with other things going on in my life right now.  I have been trying to visit some of the blogs I follow.  I just haven't been able to get to them all.

Next week, Tuesday, I'll be back to share a book review.

Until then, I hope everyone's week is a great one!

Friday, March 4, 2011

This and That Links

Here are some links I've either come across while searching the web, have received from others in email or have been shared on blogs I read.  I hope these are new for you.

Stories for Children Magazine is Now a Paying Market

Daily Writing Tips

Where Writers Learn

Read an E-Book Week, March 6-12, 2011


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