Saturday, August 30, 2014

Welcome author Aileen Stewart!

The moose and I are very happy to have author Aileen Stewart with us our blog this week.  I was first introduced to Aileen via social media and then had the pleasure of meeting her and her family in person at a book event! 

In Aileen Stewart's first book, Fern Valley, children found themselves captivated by the talking animals and their escapades, while adults appreciated the tried and true lessons that were taught in each story!  Now, Aileen's farm friends are back for more adventures in Return to Fern Valley being released on September 2, 2014!  We welcome Aileen to The Moose Room blog!

Why don’t you begin by telling us a little about yourself?

When my daughter was about three, we were watching cartoons and I noticed they were based on books. I mentioned to my husband that I could write a book good enough to become a cartoon and he said go for it.

Since I grew up in a small community made up of town folk and farmers, I decided to write about what I knew. I lived in town, but one of my best friends lived on a farm that I thought was a magical place. My favorite pastime was gathering the eggs. So when it came time for me to sit down and write my first children’s book, it seemed natural to make the characters farm animals.

When did you decide you wanted to become an author?

I wanted to be a writer since I was nine years old. Two things accounted for this. One, my fourth grade teacher entered our class in a poetry contest in which I won an honorable mention. And two, my father and role model was a free-lance author for hunting and fishing magazines in his spare time.

Do you have another job besides writing?

I have the best job in the world. I am a stay at home mother and wife. Although I have tremendous respect for working mothers, I am thrilled to be able to stay home. It also gives me plenty of time for my many other hobbies such as cooking, baking, quilting, sewing, crafting, bowling, volunteering, flower gardening, and so much more!

Were you an avid reader as a child? What type of books did you enjoy reading?

I was a voracious reader when I was a child. While my brother spent each summer at the pool, I spent all of my time at the air-conditioned library. I read pretty much everything I could get my hands on. I read biographies, children’s fiction, classics like Heidi, Little House On The Prairie, and The Black Stallion, mysteries, and magazines.

Tell us a bit about your latest book, and what inspired you to write such a story.

My latest book, which will release officially September 2nd, is titled Return to Fern Valley and is the sequel to my first book Fern Valley. When I set out, it was my hope to create a series.

Did your book require a lot of research?

Not really. About the only thing I had to do a little research on was the story where the characters build their own kites. I wanted to use real kite making terms and I wanted it to seem realistic.

Why do you write?

I write because that is the talent that God has blessed me with. A love of words and phrases constantly bubbles up in me like a fountain of cool sweet spring water making its way to the surface. Like the water which nourishes all the growing things once it reaches the light of day, I hope my stories nourish the hungry souls of young readers everywhere.  

Who are your literary heros and why?

That is such a great question and could take many pages to answer, so I will narrow it down to the three writers that influenced me the most. The first, as I mentioned earlier, was my father. My father instilled in me the love of words and led me to believe that children who could read could do anything. This last sentiment has actually become my motto.

The second literary person who touched my young life was Samuel Clemmons also known as Mark Twain. His work was masterful, entertaining, and full of life. From Tom Sawyer and Huckleberry Finn to The War Prayer, each story caught and grabbed my attention.

And lastly, in highschool, I fell in love with the author of Silas Marner, Mary Ann Evans who wrote under the male pen name George Eliot.

If you could have any vice without repercussions, what would it be?

It would be to eat nothing but dark chocolate. Dark chocolate cake, cookies, cheesecake, raisins, graham crackers, and brownies.

What is the funniest/most embarrassing/scariest story from one of your books signings or events?

When my first book came out, I was asked to do a multi author event at my local Barnes and Noble. Several days afterward, I received a call from the manager saying that someone had come in and had left a mailing tube for me. I don’t know if I had seen one too episodes of Murder She Wrote or not, but I had visions that some stalker had left it and it held something strange like body parts.

I made my way to the store and carefully opened the package. Inside was a large pencil drawing of me holding my daughter on my lap while she read from my book. There was also a note from the artist. He was a retired grocery store clerk whose father had always wanted to be a published author but had never had his dream come true. He said he had seen our picture in the paper and used that for his drawing. He went on to wish me much success and lots of sales. I cherish that drawing still and rejoice that it wasn’t a severed arm or leg.

What would you tell aspiring young writers about the publishing business?

If you want to become part of the world of published writers, you need three things. You need patience. You need persistence. And you need lots and lots of practice.

Tell us five random things about yourself.

I have been to Hawaii three times
My favorite actor has always been James Garner
I love Brussel sprouts cooked with bacon and onions
I love board games like monopoly, scrabble, boggle, sorry, checkers, and chess.
The favorite picture in my house is a puzzle of a train in winter that I assembled and had framed.

What other types of artistic talents do you have?

I have refinished antique furniture. I love to bake and some of my specialties are quick breads, tarts, granola, and chocolate cheesecake. I’m pretty crafty and have a knack for upcycling old things into new things. I make baby quilts for all my friends who adopt or are expecting. And I make clothes for American girl dolls.

When do you get your best ideas and why do you think this is?

I get ideas at the weirdest times. I get ideas while driving down the road, in my dreams, and almost anywhere I don’t have a paper and pencil handy. I have no idea why this is. The brain is a mysterious thing!

Do you have another book in the works? Would you like to tell readers about your current or future projects?

Currently I am working on the third Fern Valley book which will be called Cooking in Fern Valley. It will be a combination of short stories like the first two books, but it will also include recipes. This way I get to combine my love of writing and my love of cooking.

I have also been working on several picture book ideas and hope to eventually find representation.

Where do you find ideas for stories?

Ideas for my stories come from many places. My dreams, my friend’s dreams, music I have heard, things that happened to my brother and I when we were growing up. You never ever know when something you have seen or heard will cause an idea to form in your head. Like I said above, the brain is a mysterious thing.

Do you have a website/blog where readers may learn more about you and your work?

The moose and I thank you very much for joining us today!  We give your new book, Return to Fern Valley, our special...

You are most welcome to leave a comment or question for Aileen!

Monday, August 18, 2014

Superheroes come in all shapes and sizes! Meet 21 month old Bryce!

Bryce Nowakowski and his family are from Chicago.  His grandparents are Mike and Debbie Aniol from Aniol's Hardware in Hegewisch. It's nice to be able to help one of our own.  

Like any child, Bryce deserves a happy and healthy life.  He was a success story of a little guy born with a rare congenital heart defect (Hypoplastic Left Heart Syndrome) who had already completed two of the three needed surgeries to reconstruct his heart. He was happy.  His family was happy… and extremely proud to say the least.
However, on April 5th, things drastically changed.  With only signs of a stomach bug, he was taken to Lurie Children’s Hospital for an assessment.  Upon review, the team found a very large clot in his heart, which over the next few weeks proved too large to dissolve. He experienced multiple heart attacks with resuscitations during this time and on April 18th our little “Superman” was officially listed for transplant.  There have been many ups and downs, and with other complications there has been some injury to his brain in addition to irreversible damage to his arm and hands.
This has been a journey that no parent should have to experience but Jeannine and Brian have been by Bryce’s side every step of the way… never leaving... waiting... hoping... praying for some good news.       
He has shown us all what bravery, tenacity and strength truly is – and he is our own little superhero. 

Update: On July 30, 2014 Bryce received his new heart!  He has a long road ahead of him, but as his family says,  "at least now we are on the road".

To read more about Bryce, his story, and how you can help, click here

If you can, please help spread the word about Bryce by sharing this post. 

Saturday, August 9, 2014

Meet the Pawolly's!

(Due to technical difficulties on our website, August's Moose of the Month will make its debut here on The Moose Room blog.)

Pawolly (pronounced "puh-wolly") is a fun word to say  -Not only that, it is also our name!  We are the Pawolly family.  The oldest in the family is Molly Wolly Pawolly and then we have the twins Dolly and Golly Pawolly.  Go know you want to try saying that all together...Molly Wolly, Dolly, Golly, Powolly!  WOW, that's fun!

Chris Mas Moose with Molly Wolly Pawolly!

Molly has been here with Chris at The Moose Room for years, but Dolly and Golly decided to stay in their hometown of Eureka Springs, Arkansas. After all this time, Dolly and Golly decided living off the land wasn't all that it's cracked up to be, and they remembered that Molly was heading to the mid-west.  They decided to head that way themselves.  So you could imagine Molly's surprise when just last month while running errands in Indiana Molly saw Dolly and Golly out shopping.  Believe it or not, they were in Harry and David's buying themselves some Moose Munch. Go figure.  
But what luck to be together again! 

To celebrate, the Pawolly's took a trip Great America!  They had lunch at the Moose Burger Lodge, saw the Looney Tunes Parade, and went on a couple of rides.

IMPORTANT NOTE: There was NO actual moose meat used in the making of the moose burgers!  There are just the size of a moose! 

They got to hang out with one of their favorites - Tweety Bird! They even joined her on her float in the Looney Tunes Parade!

 The Pawolly's then went on a water ride and luckily it was a warm day so their fur dried nice and fluffy in the sunshine!

You might think that the upside-down roller coaster ride might not have been the best idea especially after those moose-size burgers, but it actually stimulated the Pawolly's appetite for dinner! 

What did the Pawolly's do after Great America?  Well, they went back home to The Moose Room and ordered their favorite meal...DELIVERY!

Friday, August 1, 2014

Great read for children!

Hiding Carly by Ann Eisenstein
I did not know this when I posted my review here, but Hiding Carly is FREE August 1st and 2nd on  Amazon's Kindle.  
Here's the link:

Sean is dealing with the death of his dad, a former FBI agent, and when the word on the street is that Sean's dad was dirty, he just couldn't accept that. Not his dad.  His dad always played by the rules and "followed the evidence". When Sean sees his dad's former partner at school for the Junior Special Agent Program he is not very forthcoming with answers.  Is the information classified, or is something more sinister going on?  On top of this, 11 year old Sean has to deal with Andy his classroom nemesis and Carly the new girl who infatuates him.  Sean definitely takes after his dad and will stop short of nothing to follow the evidence leading to the truth and the realization that people aren't always what they seem.

As a teacher, I know children in the middle grades will enjoy this book!

The moose and I give this book 4 out of 5 hooves!