I LOVE introducing you to fabulous authors and great books. Elaine and I met in Nashville and again in Las Vegas where we were both presenters at the BAM Conference.
She is so talented, lovely and hysterically funny!
About the book:
Melody is an amusing ten-year-old girl with Down syndrome who loves to daydream beneath a catalpa tree in the backyard. She narrates her story and explains, “I can do almost everything other children can do, and I’m happy.”
She loves her teacher, going to the library, and playing with her little brother as he tells knock-knock jokes. After a sad day, she meets an enchanted talking bird, and they use a 3-D printer to create a flying machine pulled by two dragons.
Melody soars over the playground to amaze her friends and confront a group of bullies. Melody’s energetic talent in storytelling empowers her to educate others about Down syndrome while sharing her tall tales and strong hugs. Caroline Zina’s pencil illustrations are beautifully textured and shaded, with a magical quality that deftly matches the text.
This positive story is a beginning chapter book for children ages 7 through 11.
About the Author:
Elaine Ambrose is a bestselling author of ten books and has won prestigious writing awards in three genres: humor, memoir, and children’s books.
Kirkus Reviews wrote that the book is “A joyful, well-told story that celebrates the power of imagination.”
Her books include Frozen Dinners, Menopause Sucks, Midlife Cabernet, and Midlife Happy Hour. She’s also an award-winning syndicated blogger on several online sites. Midlife Happy Hour was a finalist for the 2016 Foreword Book of the Year award for Humor. Foreword Reviews gave the book a rare 5-Star Review. The book won First Place in the Independent Press Awards for Midlife and was selected as a “Distinguished Favorite” for Humor. Elaine won two writing awards from the National Society of Newspaper Columnists for her humorous blog posts on The Huffington Post and on her own blog.
Her children’s book, Gators & Taters, won the 2018 “Distinguished Favorite” for Children’s Literature from the Independent Press Awards. The bilingual storybook, The Magic Potato, was adopted by the Idaho State Board of Education for the statewide curriculum and won the prestigious 2018 Silver Medal from the Moonbeam Children’s Book Awards.
She organizes professional writing retreats with acclaimed faculty, and she is a popular motivational speaker at college commencement ceremonies, writing conferences, workshops, retreats, book clubs, and live comedy shows.
Ambrose is an internationally recognized syndicated blogger. She recently was voted one of the top three authors in the “Best of Treasure Valley” contest sponsored by The Idaho Statesman and In October 2016, she was named a regular featured contributor to Sixty and Me.
In 2014, she authored a humorous post on The Huffington Post that went viral with more than 700,000 likes. The post, titled Don’t Fart During an MRI was reprinted in several countries in various languages and continues to gain fans. It was named as of one of the Top Ten Most-Read Posts in the Ten-Year History of The Huffington Post. Ambrose was interviewed live from New York, Interview on Huffington Post Live-Streaming Network.
Another post on her blog, My Mother’s Body Got Lost, was chosen as a winning entry in the Voices of the Year Competition sponsored by BlogHer. Ambrose presented her essay at the conference in New York in July 2015.
In 2008, Ambrose collaborated with author Joanne Kimes to write Menopause Sucks. Published by Adams Media, the book continues to sell well and receive positive reviews.
Ambrose is the founder and facilitator of the quarterly Women, Words, and Wine Writing Retreat as well as the annual Write by the River Retreats sponsored by her business, Mill Park Publishing. Write by the River Retreats have featured New York Times bestselling authors Anthony Doerr, AK Turner, Jennifer Basye Sander, and Whiting award winner Alan Heathcock.
She spoke in 2014, 2016, and 2018 at the Erma Bombeck Writers’ Workshop in Dayton, Ohio and spoke at the first annual BAM Bloggers at Midlife Conference in 2015 in Nashville, Tennessee, and again in Las Vegas in 2016. She is a regular speaker and workshop leader at the Idaho Writers Guild Rendezvous.
Elaine recently toured Greece and the Spanish island of Palma de Mallora with only carry-on luggage and her husband, Studley.
Interview with the author:
1. You have an impressive catalogue of published books, congratulations! As a writer what would you choose as your mascot/avatar/or spirit animal for each one of your books?
Thanks! As for mascots, I think of several birds for my books. An eagle works for my memoir because it took strength, focus, and the quest for freedom from childhood baggage to write the book. My humorous books could be compared to a woodpecker because I compiled a noisy group of funny, loud stories that couldn’t be ignored. My children’s books go with quail because they bob along, perky and jaunty, and they make me laugh.
2. Do you hear from your readers? What kinds of things do they say?
Middle-age women love my humor books: Menopause Sucks, Midlife Cabernet, and Midlife Happy Hour. I’ve received emails and reviews thanking me for causing laughter about the trials of getting older. Several women wrote they had to run to the bathroom because they were laughing so hard and didn’t want to wet their pants.
Others have said they were reading the books on the airplane and other people asked them what was so funny. Those messages made my day. Parents like my children’s books because the stories are positive and uncomplicated. One story in Gators & Taters includes a mother showing family photo albums to her children after they had a bad day. Several scrapbook clubs ordered copies of the book just for that story.
3. What was the best money you ever spent as a writer? The worst?
The best money spent was for the Erma Bombeck Writers’ Workshop. After calculating the costs for registration, airfare, and hotel they were more than $1,000 but the workshops were valuable and important.
The worst money was a $500 program that promised to get my books into libraries. It was a scam.
4. Melody’s Magical Flying Machine is such a positive story, what was your inspiration?
I was close to a delightful little girl with Down syndrome. She used to run to me and beg me to tell her a story. I haven’t seen her in years, so I wanted to write a story for her. It is the type of story I would have told her in person. I hope she sees it someday.
5. This is a first chapter book for 7 to 11- year-olds. What challenged you writing for this age group?
I’d never written a chapter book, and I wanted to go beyond the short stories in Gators & Taters. I imagined students reading and wanting to know what happened in the next chapter.
6. Tell us about the process of using youth editors?
Knowing several children who are voracious readers, I wanted their opinion of the original manuscript. One reader suggested I develop the character of the boy named Jack. I added that he told “knock-knock” jokes. That was a delightful and fun addition. Another child suggested I elaborate more about Melody’s daily outfits. Children know what they want to read.
7. Tell us about the spectacular illustrations
I wanted an illustrator from my state of Idaho. While researching various websites I fortunately found Caroline Zina. I liked her portfolio and asked her for some sample sketches. She’s a young, new illustrator, and she jumped at the chance to do the book. National reviews have been positive about the illustrations.
8. Where did the idea for the cover come from?
The cover motivated the story. I’ve used the Bridgeman Art Gallery of New York for two others book covers and was searching their website for a cover for my next humor book titled Midlife Reboot – How to Unplug and Start Over. (It’s in the rough draft stage.) Suddenly I saw the splendid artwork by Wayne Anderson titled Female Warrior. The girl in the picture reminded me of my little friend with Down syndrome. I purchased the rights to use the art, placed a copy of the artwork next to my computer, and wrote the 8,000-word first draft in 12 hours.
9. How many unpublished; half written or ideas for books do you have?
Too many to count. Some titles include: Farmer’s Daughter’s Almanac and Returning to the River of No Return. I have several unpublished short stories, some are humorous, some serious.
10. Where did you grow up and how did you end up where you are?
I grew up on an isolated potato and pig farm outside the village of Wendell, Idaho, population 1,000. When I was 10 I started writing short stories on a Big Chief tablet. I majored in journalism at the University of Idaho and enjoyed several good jobs: the first female TV news reporter and talk show hostess in Idaho, the first female assistant director of school services for the University of Idaho, the first female communications officer for Idaho Bank & Trust, and one of five female managers at the corporate headquarters of Boise Cascade Corporation.
After my children were grown, I started a publishing company called Mill Park Publishing.
I became a syndicated blogger, author, and certified workshop facilitator. I’m a third-generation Idahoan and will remain in Idaho. I’ve traveled to 32 countries around the world, but always come home.
Favorite travel memories include floating on a boat down the Nile to visit several ancient Egyptian temples, walking into the Taj Mahal in India, riding a bull elephant on safari in Nepal and watching a tiger kill a buffalo, eating bird’s nest soup in Hong Kong, watching people dress the Jade Buddha in Thailand, climbing stairs to the top of the Dome in the Vatican in Rome, and leading a writing workshop at a sacred site in Ireland.
11. What is your favorite, local restaurant and what are you choosing from the menu?
I love Italian food and we have a restaurant here called Luciano’s. I can be found consuming Bolognese and dry red wine.
12. Do you have a guilty type favorite TV show and what are you drinking while watching?
I don’t watch TV. There is nothing on I want to see. On the rare times I watch a movie, I’m drinking dry red wine.
Find more “About Elaine” and her books on her website: elaineambrose.com
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