Books by Rose Rosie Russell Children's Books Author Illustrator
   Allow me to introduce to you a special author I met awhile back, Jennifer Milius! 
Jennifer is also a Motivational Speaker and a Radio Host!
    Welcome Jennifer and thank you for this interview!!

How long have you been writing children's books?

   That’s a great question! Although I’ve enjoyed writing since I was a young child, I started writing children’s books during the summer of 2011. The first story I wrote was actually the third book I published, Einstein & Moo and the Quest for the Catnip. It went through several iterations while I also worked on the first two books of the series, Einstein and the Leaf and Moo and the Case of the Mistaken Identity.

What inspired you to start writing them?

   First, let me tell you a little about the two characters, as they are our family’s real-life brother and sister tuxedo kitties, Einstein and Moo.  We adopted them in 2009 when they were about three and half months old.  They have brought our family so much joy! They are loving, sweet, and curious, but they have very different personalities. Einstein is quite talkative and will talk even more when it is close to mealtime; sometimes, he will play fetch.  Moo squeaks more than meows, and she loves to hide underneath the coffee table and wave one paw at your feet, like the monster under the bed.

   It originally started as a creative outlet to make up stories from their perspectives, especially considering they are indoor kitties. What might they think when they see a hummingbird go to the feeder by the window? What might they say to the squirrel or skink venturing on the porch during their backyard watch?  My husband would play along, and we would create some funny dialogues.  So, during that summer, I decided to take some of the ideas that I was verbally creating and put them to paper.  The first three stories started out as poems with minimal punctuation just because that was how I preferred to read them, unless there was dialogue or a specific inflection was needed, then appropriate punctuation was used.  

   As I was tweaking and polishing Einstein and the Leaf and Moo and the Case of the Mistaken Identity, I started to shift my thinking about how to turn them into published books and proceeded to figure how to make it happen.  For instance, I wanted to introduce each kitty individually, and then together, so the fact that the third story was still being revised was good.  

I see you have someone else illustrate your books. What advice would you give other authors that are looking for an illustrator?

   That’s correct. My stickmen are wonderful, but I wanted something more for the Einstein and Moo series.  Before I share some advice, let me share a little background for perspective.

   The first publisher I approached was concerned that there were no pictures and said I should find a friend or family member to do them for me.  I knew some talented people and reached out to them, but they all declined. They did not feel they could do the stories justice, but I continued to keep my ears open to new opportunities and eyes open to beautiful talent.  I also took each door closing as moving me forward to where I was supposed to be and not as rejection. At face value, it was a form of rejection, but I did not take it as a deterrent from my goal.

   After a couple of years and lots of “doors” ☺, but I connected with my publisher, who in turn, connected me with my illustrator.  It was important to me that the illustrations looked real because the kitties are real. I included pictures of the kitties to show what they look like and my publisher helped me by providing samples from various illustrators to see how they would capture a part of the story and the kitties. My illustrator not only captured Einstein and Moo's look beautifully, but also their personalities.  When I saw the samples, I saw love, and that was important to me. I knew I found the right person for my stories.

   So for advice, I would say: 

   Stay true to your vision.  There are many talented people, but you will know you found the right illustrator when you get that little feeling inside that lets you know this is the right step.  You will find the right publisher, illustrator, and path for you.
  • Read a lot – different genres, different authors. The different styles will help you improve your abilities as well as better articulate what you would like from an illustrator.
  • Be open to feedback
  • Don't give up
  • You can do anything you set your mind to – tell yourself positive things and really believe what you say
  • Take each door closing as moving you forward to where you are supposed to be - not as rejection

What is your biggest challenge/challenges being a children's author? 

   From the business perspective, I am challenged by how to increase marketing in an effective and efficient manner, but I see it more as an opportunity to creatively reach readers.  From a writing perspective, I am trying my hand at non-picture book writing, and there are times when I question myself, especially when I feel stumped or something isn't flowing. Writing about the kitties comes very easily to me. So when I feel stumped with other writing, I take a break from working on that piece and focus on another part of the business (i.e. read, lining up events, radio show, marketing, blog). I try it from a different angle, like changing the point of view or writing from a different point in the story. I also make sure that I am kind to myself by recognizing I'm doing the best I can do. I tend to think we can be our own worst critics, so sometimes the inner editor needs to be silenced until you are ready for that voice/helper to come out.  When I feel the inner critic, I will color or journal about what is on my mind, then when something starts to flow for the story I was working on, I'll resume that writing. I think it is important to make sure the inner dialogue going on is reminding you of your positive attributes. Let those positive thoughts encourage you, just like you would want them to do if you said them to a dear friend.


 Last but not least, I see you are not only an author, but also a Motivational Speaker and a Radio Host? Can you tell us more about that?

   Sure! Encouraging people is one of my passions. I believe that each of us have something special to offer, but sometimes it takes a leap of faith to be willing to share that gift. I think this belief started when I was three.  I was in the children’s choir at my church, and one Sunday we were going to sing “This Little Light of Mine” during a service. We were all told to put one finger in the air while we sang these lyrics: “This little light of mine, I’m gonna let it shine”.  My parents said I was the one who dared to be different by putting my whole arm in the air while wiggling it and my hips while I sang, grinning from ear to ear. I let my little light shine that day and believe that when we are following our passions, our little light shines because we radiate the joy we feel. We feel empowered and that what we are doing is adding value.

   So writing, co-hosting the radio show with my friend and fellow author Doug Huggins, and doing speaking engagements are extensions of that passion.  On our radio show, Encouraging the You in Success, we talk about concepts and applications around employee engagement, understanding and leveraging individual strengths, effective communications, and process improvement efforts while considering both a personal and a business perspective.  Whether you are an individual contributor or team leader, a spouse or your child’s team coach, you can make a positive difference in all your endeavors, and our show is about enabling people to do that.  

   Sometimes the encouragement needed is not about sharing your gift, but coming through uncertain times. Change can be difficult, even if the change is expected.

   I believe that our thoughts are powerful and that it makes a difference what we tell ourselves, so I focus on positive, encouraging thoughts. Being able to engage with people and offer support and encouragement to others has enabled that light in me to shine brighter than before.

Thank you for your interview Jennifer! You are so inspiring! 

Click on the links below to find Jennifer's website and books.

Facebook: /authorjennifermilius
Twitter: /AuthorJenMilius
LinkedIn: /JenniferMilius
Goodreads: /AuthorJenniferMilius

In addition to my website, my books are available at the following locations (I’ve included the links to my works directly):



Barnes and Noble

Books A Million

Rocket Science Productions (Publisher)

   Author Sandra Bennett is a mother of three boys, retired Primary School teacher. She appreciates the struggle of teaching reading to reluctant readers and understands the importance of hooking readers from an early age. Increasing literacy in our children has become her passion. Throughout her many experienced years in the classroom Sandra began writing stories to encourage and entice her students to develop a love of reading. She started by writing familiar stories about her students that they could easily relate to. These gradually became more involved, humorous tales that Sandra believed other children could benefit from also.

   Sandra had always wanted to write for children, even more so once she went to teachers college and began teaching. As she raised her sons and taught part-time she practiced the craft of writing, took a few courses and eventually grew in confidence to begin the process of helping early and reluctant readers with her own stories through independent publishing.  

I see you have four books currently out. Tell us more about those.

    First of all thank you for the wonderful opportunity to be interviewed by you on your website and the chance to talk a little about my books and myself.

   As you know I currently have published four books. Two are the beginning of my short chapter book series for reluctant readers while the other two are part of a series of uniquely Australian picture books.

   Gingerbread Aliens and Alien Shenanigans are fun science based early readers designed with a bunch of pictures (for aid in comprehension) and a huge dose of humor to encourage reluctant readers. They have easily relatable characters, suspense, twists and hooks along with intrigue and often gooey science experiments for kids to try.

   The main characters are three mischievous brothers and one particularly cheeky little alien. You won't believe the antics and trouble they get up to together.

   I have written the third book in the series and hope to publish it next year. I introduce a new female character in  book 3 ( Alien Milkshakes) to encourage young girls to read the books even though so far I have found my boy characters does not seem to have limited  my readership.

   My Australian picture book series uses our beautiful wildlife to tell tales that help children explore their feelings and emotions while also learning about the birds and animals that are so unique to our country. I always add fact pages at the end of the books to learn a little about each character.

   Emma the Eager Emu is a bird with tenacity.  She is determined to learn to fly just like all her friends at flying school.  Emma has to learn a different way of flying and in so doing discovers her own very special qualities. On reading the story children also learn that it is okay to be different, and that if they have a goal, they can strive to reach it if they practice and don't give up.

   Frazzled Freya is a timid frill neck lizard much too frightened to join her friends and play in the heat of the desert sun no matter how much she desperately wants to join them. She must learn to reach out of her comfort zone to face her fears. Children come to realize that not all their fears are so bad after all.

   I am now working on two kangaroo stores where little joey must learn to listen to his parents and one about a playful platypus discovering the important lesson of stranger danger.

   Each tale is told with the moral tale being subtle so that children enjoy the story first and the lesson behind it second. I don't like to make it too obvious I like to encourage thinking and family or class group discussion.

After teaching for twenty-five years, what changes have you seen in the way literacy has been taught? Or in other words, would you say things have greatly improved in this area?

   In the 80's when I began my teaching career literacy was taught in a more holistic approach, a sort of one size fits all. It is great to see the changes that have arisen through the years since then. Now students are taught more individually, their different learning styles are taken into account. Guided reading groups and directed reading and writing are tailored to suit a wider range of needs within the classroom.
   I began with teaching on a chalkboard, progressed to a whiteboard and today we have smart boards. The introduction of technology has dramatically changed the way we teach and children learn. The days of rote learning have disappeared in favor of a mixed bag of strategies to enhance how to learn, research, discover, and grow. 

   Children arrive at school far more equipped and ready to learn to read than ever before. What we taught in Kindergarten 25 years ago, is now taught in preschools. Sight words and reading strategies are abundant as classrooms continue to evolve to find the most suitable solutions. Reading records are constantly being updated and checked to ensure children aren't left behind. 

   Parent helpers are welcomed and encouraged to listen to children read and become more involved with the daily classroom routine and activities. 

   As an author now, I enjoy the opportunities that enable me to be invited into classrooms to read to children. I remember from my teacher college days being taught that a love of reading, and reading aloud lots of great stories produces readers. The more words a child hears and sees, the more they become familiar with the written word. If children enjoy my stories, then I am still helping in some small way towards developing their literacy without being in the classroom full time. I can now share my stories to many more students instead of one class at a time.

Who are your illustrators for your books and how did you find them?

   Diana Querubin is my illustrator for my alien short chapter books. I originally had another illustrator however have moved on. Dianna has now produced the illustrations for all three books in the series even though Alien Shenanigans is the only published one with her illustrations at present. We work really well together considering it is all via email as she is in the Philippines. We met through the company that has helped me self-publish. When I said I was looking for a new illustrator, Dianna was recommended to me and I haven't looked back.

   Dianna Budd is my fabulous Australian illustrator who designs all the gorgeous drawings in my picture books. We met at a mutual friends book launch in Canberra where we both live. We began talking over a glass of champagne and hit it off instantly. I mentioned I had a couple of stories I really wanted to make into picture books if I could find the right illustrator. Dianna asked me to send her the manuscript to Emma the Eager Emu, which she adored and the rest is history. I loved her work, we developed a mutual respect and have worked together ever since. When I sent her the manuscript to Frazzled Freya she simply replied with "A Freya Fan."

   It's funny how both my illustrators have turned out to be named Dianna. It can be a bit confusing at times. At least I can distinguish between the two by the number of "n"s in their name. Mind you Diana does all her illustrations through computer graphics, while Dianna uses fabulous vibrant pastels. They both have very different and unique styles. Each suitable to the age group the books are targeted towards.

On you website, you mention you do many school visits. What advice would you give other authors for visiting classrooms when sharing their books?

   The best advice I would give anyway about school visits is be prepared.  By that I mean organization beforehand and during the visit. 

   Prepare a letter to be sent to parents and teachers at least two weeks prior to your visit introducing yourself with a brief explanation of what you plan to do with the children. Does it fit into the current curriculum? Give them a reason to want to see you there. 

   Also forward a poster for the school to display so that the children and school community become familiar with you before your visit.

   Ask permission to send a pre-order form of your books for parents to prepay. It saves handling money on the day.

   Make sure you arrive with plenty of time to introduce yourself to the organizing teacher or librarian and have plenty of time to set up.

   Be courteous at all times and set expectations from the outset regarding behavior. E.g. welcome children for their good behavior as they enter quietly. Thank them for using their listening bodies etc. 

   Things don't always go to plan, so have alternative strategies and activities or books to read. The more
material you have up your sleeve the smoother the visit will go.

   I like to use puppets to help read my stories and talk about our wildlife. Find something about your books that will engage the students and keep their interest.

Last, but not least, what advice would you give new authors starting out? 

   My advice to new authors starting out is never give up. If writing for children is your dream, then go for it! There are so many wonderful authors just willing to give support and advice never hesitate to ask. I love being a part of this wonderful writing community, it has given me so much encouragement and help, and I want to keep paying it forward. Write every day, keep honing your skills, seek reviews on your work and when you are ready to take the plunge and let your baby out into the world, dive right in. You'll never know if you don't give it a go!
Thank you for your awesome interview Sandra!

To find Sandra, here are her links to her website and books:



Amazon: Frazzled Freya -

               Emma the Eager Emu -

               Gingerbread Aliens -

   Author and illustrator, A.J.Cosmo is a talented writer with engaging stories. His illustrations will keep readers turning the pages for more. 

1) How long have you been a KidLit author and illustrator?

   My first children's book came out in the winter of 2011, so I've been doing this professionally for about five years now. I have always drawn and written in one form or another and have found children's books to be the perfect intersection of those talents. It also help to have the creative mind of an eight year old. 

2) How many books do you have out? 

   As of this writing I have sixty-nine unique titles (there were some anthologies created.) This equals out to a little over ten titles per year. My pace has slowed down significantly as my focus has shifted to doing detail oriented illustrations and complex narratives.

3) I see you have stories for younger readers and stories for older ones. What grade level is the most challenging for you to write for and why?

   I can't say that any of them are more challenging than the others, however, each one has a challenge in relation to the demands of that audience. What I have found is that reading level is fluid for children. Some children read beyond their level while others prefer easier titles. I've met six year old readers who are almost on young adult and I've read to a class of sixth graders that preferred picture books. The true difficulty in all this is communicating what grade level you intended to read the book when you made it. That's something I still haven't mastered.

4) You illustrate all of your books. Can you give us an example how you do this? 

   Sure, there are two main techniques I use to make the pictures. One is to do a completely digital process that uses a combination of Manga Studio Pro and Adobe Photoshop to create the images. There's a video of this process for "Nuts" you can watch here. The drawing is done with the help of a Wacom Intuous tablet which allows for natural pencil movements. The other method uses pencil sketches which are then scanned into Photoshop and colored. This is done mostly for speed, as the computer programs cannot do any of the work for you (there's also the added perk of being able to undo mistakes.) Coloring in Photoshop involves a lot of layering and "pushing" of color in order to get rid of the digital feel and make it look organic.

5) Last, but not least, what you want readers to walk away with after reading your stories. 

   My stories are intended to teach imagination and heart to children. They cover a wide set of topics, characters, and tones, but the main themes always involve understanding other people and including them. Beyond that, I just hope that the children are entertained and that they have shared a special moment with their parents.

Thank you for sharing your inspiring work!

To find A.J. Cosmo's books,  click on the links below:

A.J.'s Website:



I also welcome any and all emails :)

My interview with author and illustrator Rhonda Paglia last fall. Enjoy everyone! 

   I’m so please to introduce you to a special author friend of mine! I know you hear me talk about her and the wonderful books she has written for young readers! Two of her books are written for ages 10 and up. Please welcome Rhonda Paglia (also known as "Grammy Pags") of “Grammy Pags Stories for Kids.”

1) Before becoming an author, you were an elementary school teacher. With the start of the school upon us, what advice would you give parents and students to assure that they have a successful school year?

   Hi Miss Rosie, Thank you so much for inviting me to participate in your back to school blog!! I’m now a retired, but I was an elementary teacher for 26 years.  One of the most challenging things I remember was the time it took for kids (and teachers) to transition from summer vacation mode to the back-to-school mode.  

   Every family and family schedule is unique, but here are a few suggestions to help kids transition:

   Make sure your children get some down time after their long school day.  Kids should have time to play outside, read for fun, work on hobbies, take a nap, or just have a little time to focus on their own interests.   

   Make sure there is enough time to complete homework assignments. 

   When my own kids were young, homework time was right after dinner.  After assignments were complete, the rest of their time, until bedtime, was “free time.”  This schedule seemed to work for us.  I know a lot of kids participate in after school activities, so scheduling time for homework can be a challenge, but it’s so important that it is completed before bedtime.

   Finally, make sure your kids get proper nutrition and plenty of rest to keep their batteries charged and ready for success. Have a great year, kids and parents!!

2.  Tell us how many books you currently have available to readers and a little bit about them.

   Thanks so much for asking!  Currently I have independently published 12 books.  They are available in soft cover and for Kindle.  Ten are fiction books for kids ages Pre-K to grade 3.  Two are non-fiction for kids ages 10 to adult.  Here’s a little summary for each of my books: 


What advice would you give authors that are starting out with the journey of writing children's books? 

Rosie, here are a few suggestions, but I am still learning!!

1.    Writing books for kids is not for the fainthearted! It is a journey – so be patient, pace yourself, and become your own best cheerleader and promoter. 

2.    There are two routes to an author can pursue:  traditional publishing, through a publishing agency, or self-publishing, where you publish your book yourself. 
a.    If you decide to pursue the traditional publishing route, be very careful.  There are many ‘predatory’ book companies out there that will happily take your money.  These are the “pay to publish” sites – stay far, far away from them.
b.    If you decide to independently self-publish, be prepared to spend most of your time on marketing and promotion.  Marketing and promotion often takes more time than the writing, editing, and creation process.

3.    Find your niche groups and build your communities.  Social media groups like Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, plus your personal blogs and websites are where you will find your supporters.  When you become established, your “groups” will help you share and promote your books.

4.    A few other suggestions:
a.    If you decide to go the self-published route, have your work professionally edited.  My author friends and I can look over our manuscripts 100+ times, but we still sometimes miss those darn little mistakes.  Of course we don’t find them until AFTER our books are published – and the mistakes just pop off the page!  Yikes!  So I would suggest hiring a professional editor – it’s worth every penny!
b.    Your cover also needs to shout “professional!”  (I’m working on this!)  If you cannot create a professional looking cover, then hire someone to help you!
c.    Finally – readers DO judge a book by its cover, especially the BACK cover!  I read that readers will give the back cover a 30 second scan.  That 30 seconds will make or break a purchase.  The back cover is the place for your “hook.”  Professionals recommend that the text be no more than 150 words - or less!  So every word must count!! (I’m learning this too!)  Good luck! 

4) Last, but not least, what do you want your fans to walk away with after meeting you and reading your stories?

Oh gosh – I would love for my young readers and fans to know the following:

* I hope you enjoy my stories.  Some of my characters are a little whacky, but fun!  I hope my stories and characters make you smile and laugh and stir up your imaginations! 

*I would certainly encourage kids to read and read a lot!  Reading will make you smart and empower you!

*Read a variety of genre – include both fiction and non-fiction.  Read about what you are curious about and topics that you enjoy. 

·         I also would encourage kids to write!  There are times throughout our lives that we need to write.  So practice!  The more we practice, the better we become. 
          Finally, this is a little off topic, but it’s important to me.  We all must remember that every person has unique gifts and talents.  We need to use our gifts and talents to do good things at home and in our communities.  We also need to recognize the gifts and talents in others and support them too.  When we do good things - we help lift up our whole world and make it a better place for everyone.  In my book, “The Little Lambs and the Very Special Mission” – the little lambs ask that we follow their special “BE messages!” (BE kind, BE a friend, BE a leader, etc.) So please follow the BEs!

Thanks everyone – and thanks Miss Rosie for letting me share my books and time with you!  Have a GREAT school year!  Love from Rhonda Paglia of Grammy Pags Stories for Kids

To read more about Grammy Pags Stories for Kids – here are some links:


Amazon Author page:

Barnes and Noble Author page:





PS – I’m working on a NEW project - “The KINDNESS KIDS Project!” Watch for details!! 

Don’t forget to watch for: “Doonsey ReturnsThe Great Rescue. Part 2 Coming 2017!!!

   In our Kidlit Parade Group, we discuss many things each month. Science was our focus back in the month of May, 2016. We researched and shared how students and children explore,"Writing for Science"
   Allow me to introduce to you our niece, Sophia McCall! She is a Scientist. See how she has been inspired to choose this field.
   Sophia has a Bachelor’s of Science in Geoscience, a Minor in Environmental Science, and a Minor in Urban Planning and Design. She's little over halfway through her Master’s of Science degree in Physical Science. Her title when working at 
APAC Kansas City, INC and The Midwest Regional Division was: "Environmental, Health and Safety Professional." 

   In a interview, we asked her the following questions.
                                                                                                 Sophia McCall
What inspired you in both writing and science?
   Science experiments and writing down the hypothesis and comparing the results. For example, my
daughter loves it when I do science experiments with her. We will pick an experiment and then I ask her
what she thinks will happen in the experiment. We write down in a notebook what we think the
outcome will be, then we do the experiment and compare the actual results with what we thought
would happen. I think it’s important to do things that are hands on very early. The messier the better! I
think getting a book full of science experiments and reading through each one testing out theories and
ideas is a fantastic way to spend a Saturday exploring the world around us. I’m a scientist and I still do
this. I do it with my daughter and I do it because no matter how much schooling I have had or how old I
get, I always want to learn more—and there is always something more to learn. It’s a lot of fun!
Here are some links to come up with ideas.

                                                                                              Image from
 Any special projects or work that inspired you to become Scientist? 
   When I was young, I knew I wanted to be a writer. I actually started college out as an English major. I liked it but it wasn’t very challenging. I have always been interested in Science. So, to make school more challenging I took an Environmental Science course and I loved it! From that point in college forward, I took every science course I could, biology, chemistry, bio II, physics, anything geology or hydrology I could possibly enroll in—I did. Science was so cool! There was a whole universe that you couldn’t see, that you could see with a microscope—a whole world in a drop of water! It was amazing to me and I wanted to know and see everything! I wanted to know how mountains were made, how oceans were formed, how rain worked and why tornadoes, volcanoes, and earthquakes happened, I wanted to know everything and reading about science seemed like a great place to get some of the big and small questions I was curious about answered. I loved reading, writing, and science so I found a way to combine all of them together. I get to write reports on my scientific studies and research new topics and get paid to do it! I love being a scientist and helping people! Several different writers in science inspired me, but I particularly loved Rachel Carson’s “Silent Spring”. There is a whole series of books called the “Who was….” series. If you want to learn more about a person who helped to change the world, they have books on scientists like Marie Curie and Rachel Carson they are very fun and informative to read. Here is a great link to look up!

What does writing and reading mean in your work? 
   Reading and writing are very important to my work on a daily basis. I need to be able to tell people how and why something works the way it does so I can help fix big problems. Reading is equally important to my work. It’s important for me to stay up to date on new methods of investigation in science and technology. This helps to have more knowledge on different topics in science so I can make the best decisions possible.
                                                                                  Image from

Sophia, when you were out teaching children about what you do, what type of things, activities, etc. did you do with them?  
   When I took children out to show them what I do first is teach them about the rock cycle, I show them all the really cool things we use rocks for and how we get the rocks out of the earth (blasting). I talk to them about the science behind how we use chemical reactions to get the rocks out of the earth and how we safely do it. I go out and collect fossils, pyrite (order from a vendor), and calcite then spread it out in gravel at the quarries so the kids who come see how quarries work and can hunt for fossils and learn about rocks hands on—they get to keep what they find which is always fun for them. I give them safety vests and hard hats that they wear while at the quarries and we take a tour in a bus where they can see the big machines at work. They ask questions and we talk about how other items in the environment like water and air help shape the surroundings that we see, we talk about geological time and how important it is to take care of our environment after we get done mining. 

What's a good way to get children excited about science?
   The children in my experience are super excited about science when I start talking to them about rocks— some of them say they never have really thought about it.  Some of them tell me about their rock collections that they have at home. It really depends on the kids—but they all seem to really love the experience. It’s one of the best parts of my work. I get to show kids how cool it is to be a scientist and share what I love so much with them!

   Thank you Sophia for visiting with us and sharing your great knowledge. 
I hope this has encouraged boys and girls to look into the Science field if this is something they find interesting.  

   Please leave a note if you have any questions. 
As always, we would love to hear from you!

Books by Rose Rosie Russell Children's Books Author Illustrator