Elynne Chaplik-Aleskow

Elynne Chaplik-Aleskow is Founding General Manager of WYCC-TV/PBS (Chicago’s Public Broadcasting Station) and Distinguished Professor Emeritus of Wright College in Chicago.

Shelagh: Please tell everyone a little about yourself, Elynne.

Elynne: I am an author and adult storyteller.  My non-fiction stories and essays have been published in magazines, newspapers and the following anthologies:  The Revolving Door in Chicken Soup for the Chocolate Lover’s Soul (HCI Books); Grandma Lebedow in The Wisdom of Old Souls (Hidden Brook Press);  The  Red Pen, The Elevator, Mr. X and Mr. Y, and Life 101 in Forever Friends (Mandinam Press); His Way in My Dad Is My Hero (Adams Media Publishing); The  Hat in The Ultimate Teacher (HCI Books); The Needle in the Haystack and My Gift of Now in Contemporary American Women: Our Defining Passages (All Things That Matter Press); Ronald in Chicken Soup for the Soul: True Love (Simon and Schuster)

My story, A Tale of Two Vardas, was published internationally December 2009 in the Jerusalem Post Magazine. The sequel, A Journey of the Heart, was published in The Jerusalem Post Magazine January 2010.

June 1, 2009 marked the recording debut of my audio fiction story, Professor Gabriel and her 101 Posse. The story airs on The Deepening Website (World of Fiction) and is recorded by D. L. Keur.

I am married to my best friend Richard Noel Aleskow.

Shelagh: When did you begin writing and in what genre(s)?

Elynne: I have been writing since I was around nine years old. As a young girl, I used to write stream-of-consciousness prose that bordered on poetic prose. That writing was just for me. It was a way to express my most personal feelings as I was growing up. Two and one-half years ago I decided to retire from college teaching. My husband wisely suggested that I have a plan in mind for retirement and asked me what I would like to do. Having had successful and fulfilling careers in Public Television and teaching, I answered that there was a dream I had always wanted to do. I wanted to write and publish my stories. And so I began my third career.

I had always been a reader of the short story genre. Artistically this genre gave me great pleasure as a reader and writer. The only difference was that my stories were non-fiction. With the experiences I had lived and knew about, non-fiction was a natural and exciting genre for me. I could never imagine in fiction writing some of the events that I had lived. The first year and one-half of my writing, the stories poured out of me. I was productive and inspired and wrote everyday. Then my submissions turned into published stories and I have not looked back since.

Shelagh: When you started writing, what goals did you want to accomplish? Is there a message you want readers to grasp?

Elynne: Many of my non-fiction stories are inspirational. I want my readers to be moved and to understand and empathize with the reality I am conveying.  I want my stories to offer my readers insights and to entertain them. Many of my travel stories are very funny recounting the travel adventures of my husband and me.

Shelagh: Briefly tell us about your latest stories.

Elynne: My stories are presently published in seven anthologies and several magazines including the international Jerusalem Post Magazine. Two very important stories about my life, The Needle in the Haystack, the story of how my husband and I met in middle age and, My Gift of Now, about my retirement and the beginning of my writing career, have just been published in the anthology, Contemporary American Women: Our Defining Passages.

I intentionally have chosen to submit my stories for publication in a variety of anthologies because I feel that they will get the best distribution and variety of readership this way. Each editor and publisher along with the contributing authors works hard to market each anthology. I believe it is an advantageous way to establish an audience for one’s work.

Shelagh: How are the anthologies marketed?

Elynne: Contemporary American Women: Our Defining Passages (All Things That Matter Press) is being marketed to the public as well as to Universities and Colleges as a text for Women’s Studies Programs. That thought thrills me. I see this book as an eloquent mentor to the next generation of women. It can be purchased from the publisher and at Amazon.com.

Shelagh: Do you have a specific writing style or preferred POV?

Elynne: My point of view preference in writing is first person. There is a personal quality and tone that a first person narrator is potentially able to convey in telling the story. As a reader, I have always been attracted to and interested in storytelling and the narrator’s role and effectiveness in this process.

In performing my stories, I find the audience engages naturally with a first person narrator. The first time I performed a program consisting solely of my own published stories was a moment I will never forget. I had achieved my dream.

For me performance of my work is a natural extension of my art as a writer. To perform my work for an audience establishes a connection and bond between them and me as I function as both the writer and the performer. The audience feedback is immediate. Will they laugh where I intended them to laugh? Will they feel moved as I intended them to feel? Will my interpretation of my story parallel their own interpretation as readers?

As an artist, combining writing and performance is an exquisite challenge.

Shelagh: Share the best review (or a portion) that you’ve ever had.

Elynne: I have received many wonderful and insightful reviews about my writing and my performing. I would be happy to share one of each.

The following is a review of my audio fiction story, Professor Gabriel and her 101 Posse, which is available at www.thedeepening.com.   It is a short story that lends itself well to being read and recorded. It was recorded by D.L. Keur.

Elynne’s vivid and creative story touches the reader with emotion, just as Prof. Gabriel touched her students…The story of LK and the kidnapping would make an inspirational anticipatory set for any curriculum on creative writing … punctuated with chapter-like titles; i.e. “The Attic”, “The Billboard”, “The Conversation”, etc. the reader is held captive. I love how the story of Miguel is woven as a sub-plot to help clarify the Prof’s “mission” to help LK. The wisdom that the writer (and Professor Gabriel) imparts throughout is invaluable. “My burden was to help him lose his arrogance.” … “She taught us how not to be afraid” … Listening to her story was a very “deepening experience”. Thank you.

C.J. Breman

The feedback I have received from my performance programs are reviews that are indeed gratifying. The following is one of my favorites:

Most writers are Sooooo disappointing as speakers but you are dynamite wrapped in silk.
Illene Ashkenaz

Shelagh: What are your current projects?

Elynne: My most current writing project involved a Facebook experience that became two non-fiction stories published internationally in The Jerusalem Post Magazine. After the first story was published, the Jerusalem Post Magazine editor invited me to write a sequel. The entire experience from living the stories to writing them was magical. And gaining an international audience through this paper’s print distribution and website was an invaluable opportunity.

I have stories accepted in two more anthologies that will be out toward the end of 2010.

I am always either thinking about my next story or writing it.

Shelagh: Where can folks learn more about your books and events?

Elynne: The anthologies with my stories, my performance schedule, reviews and book signings can be found at http://LookAroundMe.blogspot.com

March 22nd I have been invited with other contributing authors to the University of Maine to perform my stories in Contemporary American Women: Our Defining Passages. Both Cynthia Brackett-Vincent, the editor of Passages, and I are contributing authors to the anthology, Forever Friends edited by Shelagh Watkins.

Shelagh: Thanks for joining us today, Elynne.

Elynne: I am delighted to be interviewed by you. Thank you for the invitation.

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Mark Glamack

Today’s guest is Mark Glamack, animator, businessman, director, producer, writer, and patented inventor. Mark has worked in every area of the animation industry. Over the last twelve years, he has created, written, and developed two motion picture projects and a television series.

Shelagh: Hello Mark, please tell everyone a little about yourself.

Mark: Born and raised in Rochester, New York, I attended Art Center College of Design, UCLA, PCC, Sherwood Oaks Experimental College and various animation courses. Currently, I’m the creator, author, and illustrator of the novel, LITTLUNS: and the Book of Darkness: the “Mom’s Choice Awards” Gold winner for 2009.

Earlier in my career, I worked at Walt Disney Productions and went on to work on the animated classic The Jungle Book, and animated many of the special effects for the combination live-action/animation, Bed-Knobs and Broomsticks.  I also worked on the EPCOT promotional film, animation inserts for The Wonderful World of Disney, and The Story of Walt Disney: a Disneyland attraction.

Drafted out of Disney to serve in the Viet Nam War, I spent a year as a medic with the First Air Cavalry Division based thirty miles from the DMZ. I also photographed and directed an ambitious documentary entitled Is Freedom Just a Word? I was awarded the Bronze Star.

Back home in the United States, I continued my career working on countless projects for Hanna-Barbera, Filmation Associates, Film Roman, HBO, Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, and others. Some of the titles I’ve animated, directed or produced are: All Dogs Go To Heaven, Life with Louie, He-Man and Shera-Princess of Power, Oliver Twist, Bobby’s World, Zazoo – U, Spawn, Yogi Bear, Scooby-Do, Tom & Jerry, Dyno-Mutt, Future FlipperG.I. Joe, A Flintstone Christmas, Last of the Curlews, the animated inserts for That’s Entertainment II, and many more. Also, the direct to video projects: Gen 13, Christmas Classics,  Tom Sawyer, All Dogs Christmas, and All Dogs Go To Heaven. In 1999, I was nominated for an Emmy in the Outstanding Special Class–Animated Program for Life with Louie.

During those years, I created the Over One Hour Program Category for animation and the first annual individual achievement awards’ categories (Emmy’s) for the following talents: Animators, Background Artists, Background Stylists, Layout Artists, Production Designers, Storyboard Artists, Voice Over. In 1996, I successfully brought the daytime Emmy awards structure for animation consistent with primetime.

Appointed by the President as Vice-Chair for the ATAS Activities Committee 1991 – 1992, I later served on the Budget, Awards, and Membership Committees.

In 2002, I completed my sixth term as Governor for The Academy of Television Arts & Sciences.

Shelagh: When did the writing bug bite, and in what genre(s)?

Mark: The writing bug hit me early on in my film and television career when I realized that if I wanted my ideas and imagination to be fully realized, and done right, I would have to do it myself. Well, I had written scripts and other writings, but a novel? Not in a million years would I have ever considered writing a novel. Not that I wouldn’t have wanted to do so, but I always thought there were far better qualified people than I to take on yet another new difficult and demanding journey. And then I had an epiphany; a vision and experience of pure love asking me to write “Littluns.” After this brief, profound, and powerful exchange and calling I shelved all my other projects that were most important to me, and dedicated full-time while understanding the huge odds against such an endeavor.  I guess only time will tell why He wanted me to do this.

For me, the genre is determined by inspiration which has mostly been in fantasy and science fiction – a place where my imagination has no limitations or boundaries.

Shelagh: When you started writing, what goals did you want to accomplish? Is there a message you want readers to grasp?

Mark: For some time now, many parents and others have voiced their concerns about popular books that send the wrong messages to impressionable minds. Most of these people talk about their concerns, but few new options exist that have any appeal to both Christian and secular; young adult and grownup readers. Also, some titles have become more a peer issue than anything of substantive value. Some of these works have significant dangers where, as one example, some people would have everyone believe that there is good and bad evil. Hopefully most parents can explain the difference. And hopefully young and old alike will discover “Littluns.”

God as my guide, was with me every moment, and provided many miracles to enable me to survive while working on “Littluns.” I don’t say this lightly. Three years later amongst every imaginable deterrents, obstacles, negative distractions, and relentless invasions on my life, seemingly to stop me at all costs, the novel “Littluns: And the Book of Darkness” was born; then published, and now finally available for sale.

I smile in the knowledge that whatever God has in mind, it will be good.

Shelagh: Briefly tell us about your latest book. Is it part of a series or stand-alone?

Mark: “Littluns” stands alone, but there is a possibility of one of two sequels. Sales will determine what will happen next.

Shelagh: What’s the hook for the book?

Mark: The hook is in the peradventure and the decisions we must all eventually make in this life for right or wrong, good or evil, for the Light or for the darkness. To this end, “Littluns” is everyone’s journey.

The end of days begins when five Littluns journey down from their isolated and secret mountaintop homeland on what should be a cautious, but pleasant ‘Scavenger Hunt’ outing.

For these pure ‘little people,’ they could not have anticipated or even imagined what awaits them. The results and consequences are however unavoidable. Darkness has come, and is spreading its evil influences to the land below on the eve of destruction and extermination.

Disguised as a human and Necromancer, he has placed most of his dark powers into words; words reserved for his wicked purposes. But ‘The Evil One’s’ ominous Dark Book becomes lost, resulting in him becoming trapped somewhere between the living and the corrupted dead. He must have his book back at all costs.

Shelagh: How do you develop characters and setting?

Mark: My life’s experiences and gifts have enabled me to unite my vivid imagination into a visual representation of my written word. Each character becomes a literal and visual embodiment of the human condition that has touched my life one way or the other. As people and events have crossed my path, it is all what it has become, as I have seen it, and into our not too distant future.

Shelagh: Who is the most unusual or most likable character?

Mark: There are many likable and very unusual characters, but I think it’s important for readers to discover their favorite(s) for themselves. In “Littluns” it becomes an integral part of the reading experience.

Shelagh: Do you have specific techniques to help you maintain the course of the plot?

Mark: From sub-plots to unpredictability, to unexpected plot-twists in their mission, “Littluns” takes the reader on a peradventure where it’s becomes impossible for the reader to predict what will happen next.

Shelagh: Do you have a specific writing style or preferred POV?

Mark: I wrote “Littluns” in the third omniscient voice present-tense to give the reader a NOW experience every time they pick up the book. It is in every writers unique voice found that a one-of-a-kind writing style is born. When all is said and done it becomes what it is.

Shelagh: How does your environment/upbringing color your writing?

Mark: My environment and upbringing set the stage and prepared me for this moment in time. God did all the rest through me with all His colors of the rainbow.

Shelagh: Share the best review (or a portion) that you’ve even had.

Mark: I am humbled by ONLY wonderful reviews for “Littluns” which can be found on our website and blog. FYI, this is the most recent review from MIDWEST BOOK REVIEWS.

Littluns and the Book of Darkness
Mark Glamack, Author
Mark Glamack, Illustrator
EZ Gift Shopping
PO Box 285, West Bloomfield, NY 14585
9780615169972 $29.95 www.littluns.net

Adventure, courage, and determination surround loyal friends in the fantasy novel Littluns and the Book of Darkness. Movie Producer and Director now Author, Mark Glamack, uses his background in animation and writing to create this family friendly and Christian based young adult novel. With a mission to positively motivate, educate, enlighten and inspire through entertaining content, Glamack uses his own spiritual guiding light to draw his readers into the struggle between good and evil in this debut novel. The Littluns and the Book of Darkness will entertain audiences of all ages with its fast paced, intriguing storyline and elaborate illustrated life of the Littluns world in the Hollow Hills of the land, Terra Fermata. Author, Mark Glamack, shows off his artistic talent with colorful and meticulous illustrations. His veteran motion picture experience shines with expertly written detailed scene changes and engages readers with screenwriting skills that make his audience feel like they’ve been deep inside a high production animated movie. Glamack has exceeded his goal in depicting the journey of life, how to choose between the light and dark side of the world while showing the gifts of friendship and how they can influence us in the shadows of our own life choices. Littluns and the Book of Darkness is a delightful, skillfully written novel that will capture both young and mature readers and leave them with full hearts and the tools necessary to know the difference between good and evil. Littluns and the Book of Darkness is a wonderful gift for lovers of fantasy, for parents and educators who want to offer a faith based book and for librarians who want to expand their offerings.

Sara Hassler

Shelagh: What are your current projects?

Mark: For now, I’m just trying to figure out how to get readers to find us, connect, and experience “Littluns” for themselves. I’m finding that marketing has become yet another full-time challenge. Truth be told, I’d rather be doing what I do best and through God, writing the sequel to “Littluns.”

Shelagh: Where can folks learn more about your books and events?

Mark: For more information about “Littluns” you can visit us at…

BLOG:   http://www.littlunsblog.com

WEBSITE:    http://www.littluns.NET

Shelagh: Thanks for joining us today, Mark.

Mark: Thank you Shelagh for this opportunity to get the word out about “Littluns.”

God Bless and Good Light!

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Matthew Ball

Today’s guest is children’s author, Matthew Ball.

Shelagh: Please give us a brief bio.

Matthew: I’m a former attorney, a children’s book author and founding editor of William Joseph K Publications, and a blues & boogie woogie performing artist under the stage name of The Boogie Woogie Kid

Shelagh: When did the writing bug bite?

Matthew: I’ve been writing short prose therapeutically for years, but never with any specific intent or direction before.

Shelagh: Briefly tell us about your latest book.

Matthew: My latest book is a children’s book about friendship and teasing called Minnie & Melvira.

Shelagh: What’s the hook for the book?

Matthew: The book contains a life lesson about choosing friends. It was also a collaboration with my father Larry Ball who is a 22 year veteran of the auto-worker industry, recently laid off with the economic downturn.

Shelagh: How do you develop your ideas?

Matthew: I have an idea or concept that I share with the illustrator, who then offers their thoughts, and the end product is a combination of visions.

Shelagh: Who is the most likable character?

Matthew: The caterpillar from my book The Worm & The Caterpillar because he is the indomitable optimist against the voice of the cynic.

Shelagh: Do you have a specific writing style?

Matthew: My writing style I would describe as a whimsical rhyme, I’m always, however, trying convey within my writing a meaningful message about life.

Shelagh: What are your current projects?

Matthew: I’m writing another children’s book called The Adventures of Fred d Fly.

Shelagh: Where can folks learn more about your books and events?

Matthew: Folks can always find out what I’m doing next through our website: www.williamjkpub.com

Shelagh: Thanks for joining us today, Matthew.

Matthew: Thank you.

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Day Four of Blog Tour

Thank you for reading this blog entry! This is the fourth post on the blog tour that I set up to begin on December 1st to give me the opportunity to reach new readers and to talk about this wonderful book. If you are following the tour, thank you for your support! If you missed the start of the book tour, please check out the three blogs for December1st-3rd listed at the end of this post. Forever Friends is now available to buy on all the major online bookstores. See the links below to amazon.com and barnesandnoble.com. If you order a copy for yourself or for your friends and family, I can promise you that you will not be disappointed. This book will grow on you as you read each new story and poem about love and friendship.

When I contacted Helen, she asked me what it took to produce the cover for Forever Friends. She said the picture almost looks like it could be me! She was also curious about how I made the male figure pop out from the words sheet.

Before I designed the cover, I put ten suggestions onto the photograph gallery on publishedauthors.com: Anthology Cover. The discussions that followed were very helpful and I quickly realized that I had not found anything that would be suitable for the theme of the anthology: friendship. So I asked a book illustrator, who was a member of the Published Authors Network, if she would be interested in designing a cover for the anthology. In return, I offered to but a bio on the copyright page. She agreed and produced a very attractive cover but it wasn’t exactly what I had in mind. I decided to do a search on the web. I searched through hundreds of images on Google image search. As soon as I saw the photograph used in the anthology cover, I knew immediately that this was going to be on the front cover. I sent the photograph to the illustrator and asked if she would use it or something similar. At the time, she had just received a number of commissions and pulled out of doing the cover for the anthology.

I decided to use it myself. I went back onto Google to find out more about the photo. Luckily, it was licensed under a Creative Commons Licence:
Creative Commons License src=
This cover is licensed under a Creative Commons Licence

Under the licence, I had to attribute the original photograph to photographer, Christopher Tovo from the M&C Saatchi Agency, Melbourne, Australia, on the copyright page of the book.

I don’t know exactly how the photograph was taken but it looks as though the white-painted arms of the young man were slipped through a thin white sheet. The letter was then projected onto the sheet at a level of light that doesn’t show up on the girl in the foreground – who does look a bit like me. In fact, she looks a bit like lots of girls I can think of. This is part of the universal appeal of the cover. The girl is not a model wearing perfect makeup to create a flawless image. She is a natural with natural charm. The girl next door – everyone’s friend!

I would like to thank Helen for inviting me to talk about Forever Friends and how the front cover was designed. Helen’s short story, Circle of Friends, is an endearing story of the bond of friendship between friends, who have stayed together through the good and bad years. As their lives turn full circle and the younger generation move on, the older generation are left to re-affirm their loyalty to one another.

Helen’s story is just one of the many stories that reflect on the importance of friendship; something we all need in our lives.

Forever Friends is available now from amazon.com:

Forever Friends

Thanks again for reading this and best wishes for the holiday season!

Shelagh Watkins

December 4 Helen Wisocki

Day Three of Blog Tour

Thank you for reading this blog entry! This is the third post on the blog tour. If you have just joined the tour, welcome! If you read the first two postings on Chelle Cordero’s and Zada Connaway’s blogs, thank you for following the tour! In the first two posts, I mentioned what a wonderful book Forever Friends is and promised readers that they would not be disappointed if they bought the book for themselves or as gifts for friends and family. I talked about the short stories in the anthology and the breadth and depth covered: from science fiction to mystery and romance. I also mentioned some of the poems in the book, which are just as diverse and equally entertaining. All, whether tear-jerking or raising a smile, will give the reader new insights into human relationships and the different kinds of friendship. Within these poems, there is something for everyone!

When I began setting up the blog tour, I invited the blog hosts to send questions for me to answer. Mary sent a list of interesting questions and these are my answers:

1. What inspired you to publish Forever Friends?

The idea came from a discussion on the publishedauthor.org when one of the members, Pam Robertson, suggested that a group of members on the forum should get together to produce a volume of stories. I had set up Mandinam Press in January this year to publish The Power of Persuasion, so I offered to publish an anthology of short stories and poems written by members of the Published Authors Network and forum.

2. Will there be another Anthology in the near future?

There are no plans at the moment for a second anthology. The book has been entered into a competition for Best Anthology of 2008. If the book placed in the top three, it would certainly inspire me and everyone else to consider at least one more book.

3. Where will the tour start and end for Forever Friends?

The tour began on December 1st on Chelle Cordero’s blog and will end on December 17th on Tiziana Rinaldi Castro’s MySpace blog. If, for any reason, a blog venue could not host a blog posting, that blog will appear on my wordpress blog. I will be posting a duplicate blog to all the ones I send out on Shelagh’s Weblog.

4.What did you enjoy the most from creating Forever Friends?

I enjoyed the challenge of it. The submissions arrived randomly. Sometimes two or three short stories arrived together followed by a poem or two or three poems before another short story arrived. At the beginning it seemed an easy task as I sorted the stories into sections. I left all the poems to be inserted once the sections had been set up and the stories had been inserted into the sections. I concentrated on the editing, which was quite a task in itself. Submissions arrived in the body of emails and as attachments. The word attachments had all kinds of weird and wonderful formatting. Some submissions that must have looked fine on the contributors’ computers had been stitched together from various files and looked like patchwork quilts on my computer. I even had to download some software from the Internet to open one of the attachments.

As the number of stories and poems increased, the task became more and more difficult, until there were thirty three selected short stories (eventually reduced to thirty-one) and twenty-three poems. I had to remember the contents of every story and poem so that I could slot the poems to not only fit into the relevant sections but to lead into the next story or follow on from the previous story. This was quite a challenge and, although I was very pleased with the way everything came together eventually, I made numerous changes throughout the period of compiling the book. I even changed my mind at the very last minute, making an enormous reshuffle of the sections and their contents just days before the anthology went to press.

I also felt pressured to get the book out and available to buy online for the upcoming holiday period and the book has only recently been added to amazon.com, barnesandnoble.com and all the other leading online stores. Maybe if there is to be another anthology, I will take more time to put the book together before it finally goes to press.

5.How long did it take to finish and was it a task getting authors to join in?

The first submission arrived on May 21st and the last submission arrived on September 5th. The book was uploaded onto lulu.com on September 21st, exactly four months after I received the first submission.

It was more difficult to attract contributors than I had initially thought it would be. I do not have an explanation for this. The network had over five hundred members at the time but less than one tenth of those members were willing to take part. I will leave readers to make up their own minds as to why the response was so low.

6.Where can you be reached for book signings?

Book signings will be set up by the individual contributors and you should check their blogs and websites for information about these events.

I would like to thank Mary for inviting me to say more about Forever Friends. I was delighted to include Mary’s poem, Our Friendship, which has a gentle rhythm, soft imagery and words that lilt and flow, conjuring up a world of peaceful reminiscence. Mary is an accomplished writer as well as a poet. One of her books Love Laws has been nominated for a Cyblis award in the Young Adult Fiction category. The Cybils are an international series of book awards selected by a talented panel of children’s and young adult book bloggers. The award seeks to find books that strike the balance between literary quality and kid appeal. A panel of experienced children’s literature bloggers for each category will be reading the nominated books and selecting a shortlist of 5 to 7 finalists for each category, to be announced on January 1st 2009. After that, a separate judging panel will read the finalists and choose a winner, to be announced on February 14th 2009.

Congratulations Mary!

If you missed the first blog posting on Chelle Cordero’s blog. Check it out here:

Chelle Cordero

Forever Friends is available now from amazon.com:

Forever Friends

Thanks again for reading this and best wishes for the holiday season!

Shelagh Watkins

December 3 Mary Muhammad