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ALONG CAME A MONSTER

Meet Donna

Donna was raised in Whippany, NJ. She studied education and was been working in the field for 25 years. Donna is widowed, with three children and two beautiful grandchildren.

◇ What is your favorite thing about being a mom?

Seeing my children grow up to be  successful adults and having families of their own

 

◇ What is your favorite memory as a mom to date?

When my children were young I loved our movie nights, popcorn, hot chocolate, blankets and pillows on the floor in front of the tv.

As adults my favorite moments are watching them with their own children.

◇ What is the toughest part about being a mom?

Sticking to your guns. 

◇ What is the best advice you have received as a mom?

Take a deep breath, think before your discipline, and choose your battles wisely!

◇ What is the best advice you would like to give to a new mom?

Take lots of pictures and document even the smallest things.  It’s so much fun to look back on and share them with your children when they’re older.

 

◇ How did you become an author?

After some coaxing from Angela I gave in to the idea. 

 

◇ What is the toughest part about being a writer?

With this book it was the rewrite, changing the action from being adult driven to child driven.

 

◇ Do you have a favorite passage or quote your books?

It’s actually an illustration that’s my favorite part.  It’s the spread  on pages 24 and 25  when Brian slides his Monster’s Transport Box into the closet. Just through their expressions you can see that  Brian is so happy with his handwork  and Bonnie Blue Bird is trying  to assure   the very worried Monster Bobo that everything is going to be all right.

 

◇ Cutest thing your little fans have said in response to your book?

One of our grandparents was reading the book to her two grandchildren.  The older of the two was thrilled that grandma found this book and “Now we can get rid of our monster!”  The little one, in total shock and surprise said, “We have a monster!!!”

 

◇ How do you balance being a mother, a teacher, and an author?

Staying organized, writing lists,  having a house cleaner, and an occasional vacation helps a lot!

Meet Angela 

Angela grew up in Whippany, NJ. She married her high school sweetheart (after a break between high school and college), and moved to Morristown, NJ. 

◇ Tell us a little bit more about your background.

I graduated Magna cum laude with my Bachelor and Master’s Degrees in Psychology.  Unfortunately, we were not able to have our own children, so I’ve become a second mom to my sister’s three children whom I adore!  Nothing makes me happier than when they call me during their day, for any reason, because their mom is teaching and can’t talk.  I relish in those moments!!

Although I am not a biological mom, I am a mom to many children in my life…most of all Donna’s three children: Keith, Kristin, and Kevin with whom I am VERY close.  I am also ‘mom’ to my closest friend’s kids and love nothing more than when they reach out to me for advice, guidance or comfort. My husband is recently retired as a Lieutenant in the Morris Township, New Jersey Police Department after 27 years of service and we’ve lived in Morris Township, NJ since we married.  He truly is the best husband I could have ever dreamed of and he supports me in everything I do.  I’m a very lucky woman to have him in my life.

◇  What is your favorite thing about being a “second mom”? 

I love watching the children in my life grow and prosper; always being there to pick them up when they fall; hard to watch them make mistakes without inserting myself but learning to watch from the sidelines unless called upon for an opinion.

I don’t have many regrets in life, but one that I did have was not taking Donna’s children to the Radio City Christmas Show in NY.  Donna’s daughter, Kristin (this book was based on her experience with monsters) knew that I had that regret and she surprised our entire family with tickets to the show last Christmas.  So, we all went to Radio City Music Hall last year to see the show and Kristin’s daughter, Jocelyn, sat on my lap for the entire show.  My heart was so full…not only did Kristin take that regret away from me, but she put one of the best days of my life in my heart for the rest of my life. 

◇ What is the best advice you’d like to give our moms?

Guide them as best as you can, let them go and live their lives, and don’t insert yourself unless you’re solicited to do so.

You will make plenty of mistakes; don’t be so hard on yourself; take one day at a time; don’t listen to the other’s criticisms.

◇ How did you become an author?

When I was in college, many years ago, my creative writing professor told me repeatedly that my writing was publishable, and I should pursue writing as a profession.  I always liked writing, especially poetry.  But back then I was determined to get into a good corporate job and make a lot of money!  So that’s what I did, and I did VERY well.  I started as a clerk in the telecom industry and rose through the ranks to a Director level in only 5 years.  My promotions in the company came quickly, I learned a lot, grew as a professional woman, and then after 11 years in that industry decided to go off and start my own business, selling batteries…I know that sounds crazy…graduating with advanced degrees and honors in Psychology…and I sell batteries!!  But it was a good choice for me.  The business became a multi-million-dollar, world-wide business in my first five years after starting from absolutely nothing, no customers, and no knowledge of batteries and how they work!!  I’m fortunate to have a loyal customer-base, putting customer service always first and foremost in my company.  I love what I do, sales is my thing, but I’ve ALWAYS had this nagging feeling that I want to write a book.  I didn’t know what it would be about; however, what I ‘did’ know, was that I wanted it to be something that would help people, specifically children.  So, after several months of mulling around what I wanted to write about, I came upon it quite by accident.  My sister, and best friend, Donna Bauer was recently widowed and with my husband’s crazy law enforcement schedule, I was visiting with Donna in her home quite a bit.  One day, on one of those visits I said “Don (I call her Don for short) let’s write a book.”  She looked at me as if to say ‘are you crazy?’, but she’s much to polite to say that…so she said “Angel (my friends and family call me Angel) I don’t want to write a book” to which I replied “sure you do” to which she replied “no I don’t”.  She said “I have so much on my plate with teaching that I don’t have time to devote to writing a book…and I’m just not interested in writing a book” to which I replied, “you’re so good at parenting and parenting advise.  Everyone comes to you for parenting resolution and you just know intuitively what to do…let’s write a parenting book.”  Well I thought she was going to lose it on me, but I didn’t give her that chance.  I immediately asked her how she solved her daughter’s fear of monsters.  Now, I knew the story, but I wanted to draw her in and get her interested.  She reluctantly started to tell me.  I encouraged her to tell me more and more, to give me more of the details (again I already knew them), and I said to her “that’s our book”!  We started writing that day and four- and one-half years later we have our book/monster kit, Along Came A Monster, The Monster’s Transport.

◇ What do you love most about writing?

The creative process.  When you get started with an idea and run with it, more and more ideas come out and it’s so much fun!!!!  

◇ What inspired this book?

This story came about from a real-life situation with Donna’s daughter Kristin.  Night after night Kristin woke up petrified of the monster in her closet.  Donna tried several remedies (e.g. fairy dust, signs for the monster to stay out of her room, night lights, etc.) and nothing worked.  Finally, one night Donna had a great idea…she acknowledged that the monster REALLY WAS in Kristin’s closet and told Kristin that he was lost and had to get home to his mommy.  So, they took a box, decorated it, put things in it to make the monster comfortable for his trip home, put it in the closet for the monster to hop into, and the next day Donna put the box in her car, the monster went home to his mom, and voila…from that moment on Kristin was no longer afraid on monsters.  We’ve shared this with countless friends and family over the years and decided that it was time to share it with the world.  I approached Donna about writing the book, she gave me some pushback, but I pushed back harder, and she couldn’t refuse.  So, four and a half years later we have our book/monster kit out in the market-place. 

◇ What is the toughest part about being a writer?

This book, in particular, was hard because we had to make it a fun story for the kids with lovable and interesting characters, but instructive for both the kids and parents at each of their respective levels.  So, editing was vast because we wanted to make sure that we got it right.  We hired two prominent editors, one is a NY Times mentioned children’s book author and the other works for Scholastic.  We wanted two editors to begin with because, as new authors, we wanted consistent feedback.  They LOVED what we did, but they didn’t like the way we wrote it (in rhyme).  They said the rhyming wasn’t perfect, so they wanted us to re-write the book.  They also said that they wanted Brian, the child in the book with the fear, to solve the problem, while in the initial book we had his mom’s best friend solve the issue.  So, six months later we had our new version of the story and they LOVED it!!  We decided to hold focus groups with parents, grandparents and children to make sure we did get this right.  We gathered their feedback, incorporated the feedback, had several re-writes, had it edited and critiqued again and went back to the focus groups, etc., etc., etc.  This was a very long process, again because we needed to make sure we got this right.  It was worth it!  So, I would say the editing process was the toughest part for me.

◇ Share the journey you experienced writing your book and then experiencing its success.

We would probably take up 20 pages of print to go through our journey, but each step was an adventure to say the least.  Because, through our own research, we learned that a traditional publisher probably wouldn’t entertain us because we’re not celebrities, we looked into self-publishing.  That wasn’t an option because self-publishers would not take on the products that come with the book, they would only take the book.  We had one option only at that point, and that was to create our own publishing company, which we did.  It’s called Grain House Publishing, LLC. What does that mean?  We do EVERYTHING for this book.  We find our own illustrator, editor, printer, manufacturer, testing company, marketing, etc., etc., etc.  It’s a lot of work and its hard work, but we’ve never shied away from hard work in the past so this would be no different!!  Thank God, Donna is a great researcher and I’m a good administrator of the research.  Between the two of us we embarked on this very long, sometimes frustrating but incredibly rewarding journey.

As for the success, we’ve experienced many of them thus far. Being featured at the Bologna Children’s Illustrations Book Fair in May of 2018, which we found out later is the largest and MOST prestigious book fair in the world, was a thrill beyond description.  We hadn’t even published the book at that point, and we were recognized, so that was beyond our wildest dreams.  Winning the Mom’s Choice Award brought tears to our eyes, and I think at that point we realized that we got this right!!  It validated that we did a good job, and gave a value to the project that, as first-time authors, we needed.  But I think the greatest success of all is watching the fear in a child dissipate, and it’s almost instant!!  The look on their faces when they realize that the monster is more afraid of them than they are of their monster, AND that they have to get their monster home to his mommy where he feels safe and sound (just like the child does in his/her real life), is priceless.  There is nothing more gratifying to know that we are changing the perception of monsters in children…thereby ridding them of this fear.  And then, of course, hearing that all they talk about is Monster Bobo for days after having the book read to them is a whole other level of a feeling of success.  We feel honored to have this book as a trusted form of helping a child get over this very real fear.

◇ Do you have any other projects coming up?

Again, because WE are the publishing company, we are now primarily focused entirely on marketing this book/monster kit.  That means engagement/advertising/brand awareness through social media, including Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Website, Amazon, Potential Sellers, AND Book readings anywhere we’re invited (we’ve been in NJ, NY, and PA so far) and loving the look on the children’s faces when reading the book to them!!  They LOVE this book, they LOVE the characters, and they want the book read to them over and over and over!!  And we hear from the parents and teachers that they talk about Monster Bobo for days afterwards.  How rewarding is that?!!!!

We do have ideas for two follow-on books to this one, and we’re anxious to get to them.  But for now we have to spend our time on marketing.

◇ Do you have a favorite passage or quote your books?

Because this is a children’s picture book, we have a lot of illustrations to help tell our story.  I don’t have a favorite passage or quote; however, my favorite pages in the book are pages 26 and 27.  Monster Bobo has learned on the previous page that his new friend and caretaker and the one responsible for helping him get home has invented a Magical Monster’s Transport Box for him to hop into when he’s ready to go home.  On pages 26 and 27 he starts getting into his Transport Box to begin his journey back home to his mommy…I LOVE those two pages!!  It shows this huge friendly monster getting in this loving transport box, which by all accounts looks much too small for him to fit in, but he magically gets in and is ready to go home where he wants to be…with his mommy, safe and sound.

◇ Who inspires you?

This is a combined answer for both Donna and me.  We were fortunate to have amazingly wonderful, encouraging and supportive parents.  Our father said to us, every day, ‘you can do whatever you want in life. There are NO obstacles too great to overcome.  Just go out and do it’!  When you hear that every day of your life you can’t help but to be inspired to go out and try new things.  Our mother had an incredibly strong and dedicated work ethic.  She stayed with something, with fierce enthusiasm, until it was done.  We are fortunate to have had these two VERY strong role models, on a daily basis, to help shape our thoughts and our lives.  We are not afraid to take a risk and try something new, and we both feel like we still have a lot to contribute in this life.  So, although doing this project was fun, it was also unnerving, scary, intimidating and tiresome, but never did we ever think of stopping…we weren’t raised to give up!!  Thus, the dedication in this book/monster kit to our parents.  We know that they are dancing, wherever they are, in our success and we can hear them both saying to us “I’m so proud of you!”  Who doesn’t want to hear those five very powerful words from your parents…we were Blessed to have them as our parents!

◇ Cutest thing your little fans have said in response to your book?

I got a private message from a mom who read her 5-year old son the book the previous night and this is what the message said:  “I literally can’t even explain what’s happening in my house right now.  Daniel just made me stop what I was doing to read him the book again and he’s now walking around the house just talking about Bobo!!!”  This is a child who went from having a fear of his monster, to wanting to hear our story again, and now embracing Monster Bobo without any fear!!  He even drew a picture of his monster and monster Bobo to send to us!!  And now he wants his monster to come back and play with him.  I LOVE this!!!!!!

I LOVE knowing that this story is changing a child’s perception of monsters!!  Nothing more gratifying in the world than to help a child!!

◇ How do you balance it all?

Balancing anything in life is hard…for everyone.  I think having great, loving, and unconditional support is key.  My husband is one of our biggest cheerleaders, Donna’s kids and her daughter-in-law have been invaluable to our success, all of our friends have been incredibly supportive.  Finding time to get everything done, especially since we both have full-time jobs has been very challenging.  Also, when Donna’s overloaded with her fulltime job, I’ll take on more of the load from our book responsibilities and vise-versa.  We are a REALLY good team!!

◇ Share the journey you experienced writing your book and then experiencing its success.

We would probably take up 20 pages of print to go through our journey, but each step was an adventure to say the least.  Because, through our own research, we learned that a traditional publisher probably wouldn’t entertain us because we’re not celebrities, we looked into self-publishing.  That wasn’t an option because self-publishers would not take on the products that come with the book, they would only take the book.  We had one option only at that point, and that was to create our own publishing company, which we did.  It’s called Grain House Publishing, LLC. What does that mean?  We do EVERYTHING for this book.  We find our own illustrator, editor, printer, manufacturer, testing company, marketing, etc., etc., etc.  It’s a lot of work and its hard work, but we’ve never shied away from hard work in the past so this would be no different!!  Thank God, Donna is a great researcher and I’m a good administrator of the research.  Between the two of us we embarked on this very long, sometimes frustrating but incredibly rewarding journey.

As for the success, we’ve experienced many of them thus far. Being featured at the Bologna Children’s Illustrations Book Fair in May of 2018, which we found out later is the largest and MOST prestigious book fair in the world, was a thrill beyond description.  We hadn’t even published the book at that point, and we were recognized, so that was beyond our wildest dreams.  Winning the Mom’s Choice Award brought tears to our eyes, and I think at that point we realized that we got this right!!  It validated that we did a good job, and gave a value to the project that, as first-time authors, we needed.  But I think the greatest success of all is watching the fear in a child dissipate, and it’s almost instant!!  The look on their faces when they realize that the monster is more afraid of them than they are of their monster, AND that they have to get their monster home to his mommy where he feels safe and sound (just like the child does in his/her real life), is priceless.  There is nothing more gratifying to know that we are changing the perception of monsters in children…thereby ridding them of this fear.  And then, of course, hearing that all they talk about is Monster Bobo for days after having the book read to them is a whole other level of a feeling of success.  We feel honored to have this book as a trusted form of helping a child get over this very real fear.

◇ Do you have any other projects coming up?

Again, because WE are the publishing company, we are now primarily focused entirely on marketing this book/monster kit.  That means engagement/advertising/brand awareness through social media, including Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Website, Amazon, Potential Sellers, AND Book readings anywhere we’re invited (we’ve been in NJ, NY, and PA so far) and loving the look on the children’s faces when reading the book to them!!  They LOVE this book, they LOVE the characters, and they want the book read to them over and over and over!!  And we hear from the parents and teachers that they talk about Monster Bobo for days afterwards.  How rewarding is that?!!!!

We do have ideas for two follow-on books to this one, and we’re anxious to get to them.  But for now we have to spend our time on marketing.

◇ Do you have a favorite passage or quote your books?

Because this is a children’s picture book, we have a lot of illustrations to help tell our story.  I don’t have a favorite passage or quote; however, my favorite pages in the book are pages 26 and 27.  Monster Bobo has learned on the previous page that his new friend and caretaker and the one responsible for helping him get home has invented a Magical Monster’s Transport Box for him to hop into when he’s ready to go home.  On pages 26 and 27 he starts getting into his Transport Box to begin his journey back home to his mommy…I LOVE those two pages!!  It shows this huge friendly monster getting in this loving transport box, which by all accounts looks much too small for him to fit in, but he magically gets in and is ready to go home where he wants to be…with his mommy, safe and sound.

◇ Who inspires you?

This is a combined answer for both Donna and me.  We were fortunate to have amazingly wonderful, encouraging and supportive parents.  Our father said to us, every day, ‘you can do whatever you want in life. There are NO obstacles too great to overcome.  Just go out and do it’!  When you hear that every day of your life you can’t help but to be inspired to go out and try new things.  Our mother had an incredibly strong and dedicated work ethic.  She stayed with something, with fierce enthusiasm, until it was done.  We are fortunate to have had these two VERY strong role models, on a daily basis, to help shape our thoughts and our lives.  We are not afraid to take a risk and try something new, and we both feel like we still have a lot to contribute in this life.  So, although doing this project was fun, it was also unnerving, scary, intimidating and tiresome, but never did we ever think of stopping…we weren’t raised to give up!!  Thus, the dedication in this book/monster kit to our parents.  We know that they are dancing, wherever they are, in our success and we can hear them both saying to us “I’m so proud of you!”  Who doesn’t want to hear those five very powerful words from your parents…we were Blessed to have them as our parents!

◇ Cutest thing your little fans have said in response to your book?

I got a private message from a mom who read her 5-year old son the book the previous night and this is what the message said:  “I literally can’t even explain what’s happening in my house right now.  Daniel just made me stop what I was doing to read him the book again and he’s now walking around the house just talking about Bobo!!!”  This is a child who went from having a fear of his monster, to wanting to hear our story again, and now embracing Monster Bobo without any fear!!  He even drew a picture of his monster and monster Bobo to send to us!!  And now he wants his monster to come back and play with him.  I LOVE this!!!!!!

I LOVE knowing that this story is changing a child’s perception of monsters!!  Nothing more gratifying in the world than to help a child!!

◇ How do you balance it all?

Balancing anything in life is hard…for everyone.  I think having great, loving, and unconditional support is key.  My husband is one of our biggest cheerleaders, Donna’s kids and her daughter-in-law have been invaluable to our success, all of our friends have been incredibly supportive.  Finding time to get everything done, especially since we both have full-time jobs has been very challenging.  Also, when Donna’s overloaded with her fulltime job, I’ll take on more of the load from our book responsibilities and vise-versa.  We are a REALLY good team!!

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