Learn More about Children’s Author Byron von Rosenberg

A film that brings tears to your eyes . . .   Pikachu’s Good-bye

Describe your first kiss. It’s best forgotten.

Your favorite children’s book, and why . . . I Don’t Want to Kiss a Llama! because I read it all the time and it always makes me feel better.

A cause that’s closest to your heart, and why . . .  Muscular Dystrophy Association because they helped my dad when he had ALS.

If you could be a character in any novel, who would you be? I don’t know.  I’m making this up as I go along.

Explain the worst job that you’ve held.  Scout Executive in Wichita Falls, TX although I can now thank God for sending me there.  I learned so much about people and the world, and found out how much God loves and protects us all.

A quote that motivates you . . .  From “Look at My Hands”  (the dedicaton to Don’t Feed the Seagulls on my website at www.idontwanttokissallama.com)  “The love that I gave him he passed on to you.  Now pass it to others and watch it renew”  which I am blessed to do on an almost daily basis.

The title of the one song you could take with you to that deserted island . . .  I don’t know.  They titles have deserted me already!

Three Wishes
    1.  World peace

    2.  God’s grace
    3.  a new poem!

Favorite game you played as a child . . . Peekaboo as a little child, Capture the Flag as a Boy Scout

Byron von Rosenberg

Learn More about Author William Mattatall

A film that brings tears to your eyes . . .
Father Of The Bride
Describe your first kiss.
I closed my eyes and missed, kissing an eyebrow.
Your favorite children’s book, and why . . .
Neverending Story
A cause that’s closest to your heart, and why . . .
Bring Home Our Pows and Mias. Above all I am an American and a true-blooded patriot.
If you could be a character in any novel, who would you be and why?
The Lighting Thief. The adventure is amazing. and we all kinda want to be a hero.
Explain the worst job that you’ve held.
Being a contractior, doing a job for someone who has no respect for you and no matter how perfect the work is, it just isn’t good enough.
A quote that motivates you . . .
” Just Do it!”
The title of the one song you would take with you on that deserted island . . .
I Know He Lives
Three Wishes
1. Health 2. Love 3. Security
Favorite game you played as a child . . .
Hide and seek
What would you like readers to take away from your writing?
I would like them to realise that not all war stories are blood and guts. That my writing was worth reading, and the reader gained a little more insight about Vietnam after completing the book.

The Help Book Club

     Kathryn Stockett’s The Help leaves me mourning the lives of her characters.  Having first been welcomed into these characters’ homes and lives as a guest (perhaps a fourth at Miss Leefolt’s bridge table) in the form of a reader, a transformation occurs, though, by the end of the novel where the reader emotionally entangles himself/herself with these seemingly living, breathing, struggling human beings.  Will Aibileen continue to . . . ?  How will Miss Skeeter fare in . . .?  Does Minny triumph as a . . . ?  Does Miss Hilly ever admit to . . . ?  The telling dialogue and vivid descriptions places the reader in the moment.  In fact, Minny’s words, “I intend to stay on her like hair on soap” (158) induced the gag reflex (icks).
     Besides the entertainment factor,  I hope the reader, more importantly, acknowledges the issues The Help brings to light such as racism, sexism, and domestic abuse (which nonsensically remain in today’s society) and is motivated to take action.  Having personally dealt with a sexist stepfather during my own upbringing, the reality is that these negative, needless influences have life-altering effects.

Picture and cake courtesy of Rhonda Tibbs.

     For the purposes of book club, a delectable caramel cake
shared among members seems the ideal choice since this inanimate “character” weaves itself throughout the novel.  If feeling playful and wish to determine who has completed the book club’s reading of the month, serve a chocolate pie alongside the

Two-slice Hilly?

cake and see which members help themselves to a slice or two.  Then, without a doubt, as a group view the movie version of The Help and determine whether the book was better . . .

Kathryn Stockett

Dancing with Gravity Book Club

     Mentally draining, thought-provoking, and utterly fascinating are the descriptions that come to mind after reading Anene Tressler’s Dancing with Gravity.  An International Book Awards 2011 Literary Fiction Winner, Dancing with Gravity immerses the reader into the novel through rich descriptions (some of which caused giggling on my part):
     “Whiting took his ice cream and stepped over to the trash barrel to unwrap it.  The wafer stuck to the paper so that each time he lifted a piece of the wrapper, it tore.  Tiny strips stuck to his fingers.  Ice cream dripped down his hands;  he leaned over the trashcan to avoid dripping anything on his jacket.  He tasted paper and spit it out.  As he unwound the sandwich, a large chunk broke off and fell into the barrel.  He tossed the remainder into the can in disgust and looked around for a napkin or water to rinse his hands” (161) and clever use of vocabulary, “He knew the parents wanted him to respond, but his words were stillborn”  (136).
     The complex protagonist, Father Samuel Whiting, an educated man who suffered a less than stable childhood, inserts the proper anecdotes at the proper times, but remains socially and romantically immature at the age of forty-eight.  Whiting’s incessant questioning, analysis, and uncertainty invites the reader into his psyche and ultimately into the role of psychiatrist to his ramblings from the metaphorical couch (thus, naps were needed between reading “sessions” in order to process and recover).  Tressler accurately portrays the ideal that there is much more to a person than what one witnesses on the outside; even a person who acts as a spiritual advisor or counselor experiences real emotions.
     The setting of Dancing with Gravity centers around a circus specifically located in St. Louis, Missouri, so why not have your book club entertain the idea of a group outing to the circus?  Circus Flora has been thrilling St. Louis audiences for over 25 years.  If this is not possible, bring circus food to your book club discussion.  Hot dogs, flavored ice, cotton candy, popcorn, and an ice cream sandwich for the road.  In closing talks, recognize the importance of thanking a spiritual advisor, pastor, rabbi, counselor, or guru.  Trained to assist others, these often thankless professions deserve appreciation.

Anene Tressler

Learn More about YA Author Hermine Steinberg

A film that brings tears to your eyes . . .
There are so many but the one that probably had the most impact on me was Schindler’s List. That was probably because my parents were holocaust survivors from Poland. There were many scenes that affected me deeply but the one with the little girl with the red coat just made me sob out loud. My mother was eleven when she was sent off to a labour camp.

Describe your first kiss.
My first kiss can only be described as awkward and embarrassing. I was only 12 and it was on a dare…although I really had a crush on this boy. I don’t even really remember the kiss. I only remember how silly I felt afterwards.

Your favorite children’s book, and why . . .
I always loved to read but one of the first books that really stayed with me – ignited my imagination and actually led me to start writing – was The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe. I think I have been searching for that secret door to another world of adventure of fantasy since that time.

A cause that’s closest to your heart, and why . . .
There are many things that concern me today and I have made contributions (money, time and energy) to, but the ones that I think most about today are breast cancer (my mother recently died as a result of breast cancer), alzheimers (my father has been suffering from the disease for over 10 years) and climate change (I am deeply concerned that our actions have destroyed the planet for future generations).

If you could be a character in any novel, who would you be and why?
Of course this answer would change depending on the day and my mood, but at this very moment I would like to be Clove in my own book – The Co-Walkers. She is funny, full of confidence and spirit. Most of the books I have read lately have been quite sad – Caleb’s Crossing, The Glass Castle, Room – I wouldn’t want to be any of the characters in these books.

Explain the worst job that you have ever held.
The worst job I ever had was one summer as a university student working in a typing pool. They probably don’t exist any more. But it was mind numbing, and the more efficient you were, the more you were given.

A quote that motivates you . . .
There are many but one of them is “Try not to become a man of success but a man of value.” by Albert Einstein

The title of the one song you would take with you on that deserted island . . .
Sooo hard to choose! Maybe Hero, or Hallelujah or Somewhere over the Rainbow.

Three Wishes . . .
Of course this sounds so corny and cliche but…
1. World peace
2. My family and friends being happy and healthy.
3. Everybody’s family and friends being happy and healthy.

Favorite game you played as a child . . .
When I was about 5 I loved to play with my cut-outs. If you don’t know what I’m talking about, these were dolls that were made of perforated cardboard. My sister and I or my friends and I would spend hours, making clothes (drawing them and cutting them out) for them, creating stories, building them rooms and houses out of discarded shoe boxes and other household items. 

What would you like readers to take away from your writing?
I would like young people to feel empowered to choose the life they want, to understand that the world needs them and their decisions impact us all.

Hermine Steinberg