Ellwyn’s Blog

Interview With Author Tony Olaniji

By way of introduction, here is Tony Olaniji’s bio:

When a fun-filled childhood of oral storytelling, acting and music intermixed, and later morphed into an adulthood of organic artistic giftedness, the result is a unique blend of imaginative wonder!

This mash-up describes Tony Olaniji, an enthusiastic storyteller, story consultant and writing instructor.

He’s also an award-winning screenwriter, piano player, children piano trainer and filmmaker. Over the years, he’s helped budding writers gain an enhanced understanding of the science and structure of storytelling.

He’s been a part of various children-themed initiatives like The Green Festival, a signature feature of the Lagos Book and Art Festival (LABAF) in Nigeria. He has also lectured at film festivals and workshops.

Tony trains writers, both children and adults, and also critiques children’s book manuscripts.

His new children’s storybook is titled Kíyèsi: A Collection of African Stories for Children. He’s totally committed to the mission of producing edifying literature to displace the toxic ones that are prevalent. 

He holds a bachelor’s degree in English from Lagos State University and lives in Lagos with his wife, Biodun, and two daughters, Ebun and Itunu.

Hello, Tony, welcome to Angel Kiss Publications. Thank you for agreeing to do this interview.

Thank you for having me.

When did the writing bug ensnare you?

Sometime around 2002 in Lagos, the urge to write began to blossom in me when I saw the advert of an impending film festival that had a screenwriting competition.

I submitted a screenplay to the competition. It was the first time I would engage in any form of creative writing. 

The organizer of the competition claimed he had many friends in Hollywood. He even showed us a video of these friends confirming the authenticity of his film festival.

Unfortunately, he was a swindler. The festival was supposed to be held in Lagos. But without prior notice, he changed the venue to Abuja—this was after he had raked in a huge sum of money from the entry fees we paid and after we had submitted an avalanche of screenplays to him.

He knew it would be difficult for most of us in Lagos to travel to Abuja within the short notice of change in venue. Eventually, the competition was called off and he disappeared with our money and intellectual property.

After I got over the disappointment of being swindled, I re-read the screenplay I submitted to the sham screenwriting competition.

The story, its world, characters and their interactions intrigued me. From then on, I believed I could create stories, and I’ve never looked back since then.

Is writing your full-time profession?

No. I’m a keyboardist, I teach screenwriting and I also teach children to play the piano.

How long have you been writing?

It’s been nineteen years now, even though, I wasn’t totally committed to it because of my full involvement in music—I was on the payroll of a church as a keyboardist.

Have you won any literary awards?

Literary? No. But I won the Goethe Award for Script & Film in 2006.

How many published books have you written?

One. Kíyèsi: A Collection of African Stories for Children.

Which genre do you write?

Children.       

What do you find most challenging writing for this genre?

Having to write for a dual audience (mother and child) is a challenge I have yet to completely overcome.

Also, while concept, conflict, characters and theme come to me naturally, tone is the major issue I face when writing for children.

I always write many drafts before I could discover an authentic and accessible voice.

What are you working on now?

I’m working on five other children stories, including captivating picture book biographies.

Where do you find inspiration for your characters?

I find inspiration for my characters among children around me, especially, my two lovely daughters.  I also find inspiration in the Bible, and my childhood memories.

What has been your most rewarding experience since publishing your work?

There’s a joy that swells up in you when your name changes from a writer to an author.

For me, it’s like I’ve finally given birth to a baby after carrying it as a pregnancy for some years. This is an experience I’ll cherish for the rest of my life.

What advice would you give to authors just starting out?

Be true to yourself and your passion!

Don’t write to please people; learn all the writing conventions but let them serve your story—they shouldn’t dictate how you write.

There’s a uniqueness about you that can’t be found anywhere else; that’s what you need to develop and give to the world.

Is there anything else you’d like your readers to know about you?

I have some bilingual books (Yoruba and English) that I’m working on. But, I’ll release them after the five picture books I talked about earlier.

What message are you sharing in your books?

I share the message of hope.

What are your favorite books?

I love Zero by Kathryn Otoshi, Sulwe by Lupita Nyong’O, Stuck by Oliver Jeffers, Stellaluna by Janell Cannon, You Are Special by Max Lucado and some others. 

If you could create an author’s group with writers from any time period, who would you invite?

CS Lewis, JRR Tolkien, Elechi Amadi and William Shakespeare.

Who has influenced your writing the most?

Elechi Amadi, Melanie Anne Phillips, Robert McKee and John Truby.

When you’re not writing where can we find you?

When I’m not writing, you can always find me among Christians, playing the keyboard, learning and teaching the Bible.

A movie producer wants to turn your book into a movie and you get to make a cameo. What would you do in the movie?

I would play the role of Mr. Bayo, in one of the stories, The Delicious Trip. He’s the guide who teaches the kids how to pay attention to instructions.

An elf named 12-25 approaches you. He’s sneezing, wheezing, coughing and there’s a strange tattoo of a snoring dog on his cheek. What do you do?

I’ll get him a magical antibiotic.

What are your most effective marketing strategies?

I’ve not done any marvelous work as regards the marketing of my book. As you know, this is the most difficult part of the book industry. I’m just starting out on Amazon Ad. I’ll wait and see how it goes.

Do you have a website/Facebook page, etc?

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/TonyOlaniji

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/tonyniji/

Where can we find your books?

Amazon: https://amzn.com/B08MVGDZFS

Kobo: https://www.kobo.com/ww/en/ebook/kiyesi

Thank you, Tony, for spending time with us and sharing your story. We wish you continued success and lots of luck!

Tony Olaniji’s Featured Book

Available On Amazon

Let’s embark on a voyage into an enchanting world of adventures!
This inspirational storybook is a collection of seven thrilling African tales for children between the ages of 4 – 11:

  • A famished boy on an important journey is torn between completing the journey and eating the edible car conveying him to his destination.
  • A gymnastic mantis must confront a bug-hungry rooster that threatens her debut acrobatic show.
  • A sheep has a skin disease that has turned her coat coarse and uncomfortable. To be cured, she needs a wool-cut. But the only barber that can help is in the jungle—a leopard.
  • After losing his father’s favourite calabash to a mysterious river, a troubled boy needs wisdom to not pick an evil calabash from the many options the river offers him as replacement.
  • Disdained at home and bullied at school, a brilliant but depressed pupil applies the wrong solution to her misery.
  • A boy must apprehend his father’s he-goat after it becomes destructive from tasting a forbidden drink.
  • A man suffers negative consequences from abusing the powers a pair of magical slippers confers on him.

Divided into two sections, this captivating anthology introduces kids to new narrative experiences and morals in excitingly new ways.

The era of wonderful storybooks isn’t over! Kíyèsi: A Collection of African Stories for Children is proof!

Jesse Frankel’s Just Another Quiet Little Town

Available On Amazon

Book Blurb:

City dweller Gabe Common, seventeen and a high school dropout, has just moved with his mother to Chumsville, South Dakota, a speck in the eye of humanity.

With a population of around three hundred people, Gabe is resigned to spending his summer studying online and watching the wheat grow.

It all changes when he wakes up one morning and finds most of Chumsville’s population gone, including his mother. Along with the other survivors, he finds that an impenetrable barrier has surrounded the town which allows people to enter but not leave.

To make matters even stranger, he finds wings growing from his body, and the other residents exhibit changes as well, some of them interesting and many of them frightening.

Soon the Changed, as Gabe comes to call them, are met by the FBI, and they are just as bewildered as everyone else is. Tensions mount as the heat rises, harsh words are exchanged, and sides are drawn.

Once Gabe discovers the reason for their transformation, he has to deal with another matter—the darkness of the human heart. It is only then that he learns what it is to confront evil and face it down, even if it might cost him his life.

About The Author:

J.S. Frankel was born in Toronto, Canada and grew up there, receiving his tertiary education from the University of Toronto and graduating with a double major in English Literature and Political Science.

After working at Gray Coach Lines for a grand total of three years, he came to Japan at the age of twenty-six and has been there ever since, teaching English to any and all students who enter his hallowed school of learning.

In 1997, he married Akiko Koike. He, his wife and his two children, Kai and Ray, currently reside in Osaka. His hobbies include weight training, watching movies when his writing schedule allows, and listening to various kinds of music.

His novels, all for the YA set, include Fight Like A Woman, courtesy of Regal Crest Enterprises.

He has also written the Catnip series (five novels), Mr. Taxi, The Titans of Ardana and its sequel, The Titans of Ardana 2: Battlefield, along with Picture (Im)perfect and more novels, courtesy of DevineDestinies.com.

Future projects for Devine Destinies include the final novel in the Titans trilogy, the final novel in the Just Another Quiet… trilogy, The Undernet, the re-release of Star Maps, and more.

He is also the author of The Menagerie and The Nightmare Crew trilogy, all courtesy of Finch Books.Devine Destinies Download Romance Novels eBooks Sold Online Internationally EVERYWHERE – Paranormal Romance Booksdevinedestinies.com

Interview With Author Djennicia A. Francis

Photo courtesy of Djennicia Francis via Facebook

By way of introduction, here is Djennicia A. Francis’ bio:

Whimsy is my name and Building Positive Mental Health practices is my game!

Djennicia A. Francis is an educator, pageant queen, and author of the book In the Mirror. She is a veritable fairy whose love for books is only matched by her love for life.

After graduating with her degree in Psychology she embarked on the journey that led her to teaching. Through this melding of worlds, she’s received certification in “Strategies for Dealing with Low Self Esteem in Children” and “Counseling Children and Youth.”

When she manages to tear herself away from her books, she trains aspiring Pageant Queens in Public Speaking, sings in her church’s choir and binge watches Japanese Anime. Believe it!!

She is free spirited and sees Mental Health as tantamount to success and joy. Add that to her love for kids and you have a fantastical soul who’s on a journey to teach children to Master their Minds so they can Master their Reality.

Hello, Djennicia, welcome to Angel Kiss Publications. Thank you for agreeing to do this interview.

Thank you for having me.

When did the writing bug ensnare you?

Years ago, honestly, but in the form of Spoken Word and Pageantry Speech Writing.

However, the children’s book writing bug, took a huge bite out of me about two years ago, one morning while I was in prayer.

Is writing your full-time profession?

Not at the moment but it is definitely a profession that I am interested in pursuing for the long haul.

How long have you been writing?

As mentioned before, I’ve been writing for numerous years, just in varying capacities. But let me let you in on a little secret, I wrote In the Mirror in one evening’s sitting!

How many published books have you written?

This is my first one. OMG I am a published author!!

Which genre do you write?

I am a children’s book author whose focus is mental health in children. So, my current book and all the books to come will be deigned to teach children positive mental health practices

What do you find most challenging writing for this genre?

My use of words for sure. I am a lover of words for sure, which is evident by the fact that I have a web series entirely dedicated to words!

I am always working towards expanding my vocabulary. So, it was quite difficult keeping my words at the level necessary for the pronunciation and comprehension of a younger audience.

What are you working on now?

Surviving lol. Seriously I am working on marketing. I am brand spanking new in the industry and must put the work in to make myself known. I am also working on my second book, so 2021 here we come.

Where do you find inspiration for your characters?

That’s such and interesting question, and the answer is, it varies. Isabel Ink was inspired by what I truly wanted to see in a children’s book and people tell me all the time that she looks like a mini me.

So maybe I, even as an adult, wanted to see myself in a book. Additionally, diversity is very important to me, so I try to create characters that are relatable to children across the globe.

Finally, I’m inspired by my students, their mannerisms, everyday interactions, curiosities, and all that they go through on their journey.

I have been in the presence of children of all ages with insecurities, dealing with loss and more. So being with them essentially inspires me to write for them.

What has been your most rewarding experience since publishing your work?

You should have seen my face when I read this question. Big bright smile!

Hands down the most rewarding experience thus far, was when a lady messaged me and explained that she had shown my book cover to her daughter and her daughter loved it because Isabel looked like her!

That almost made me cry, because I wanted that. I firmly believe that representation matters, and I took a lot of time ensuring that Isabel looked the way she does, so little girls who look like her can see themselves, know that they’re beautiful and can do anything they put their minds to.

Isabel is meant to inspire all, but in that moment, all the work was worth it.

What advice would you give to authors just starting out?

Find a mentor. My mentor Felisha Bradshaw has so much to do with how I got here.

Join author groups on social media. Essentially be ready to learn a lot and align yourself with people who are doing it successfully for guidance.

Reach out to someone, authors are nice people lol. Just ask the lady that started it all for me, this very special blogger here lol.

You will be surprised at how many things you don’t know that you don’t know.

Photo courtesy of Djennicia Francis via Facebook

Is there anything else you’d like your readers to know about you?

All my books are meant to be read aloud, because I believe that reading out loud is the foundation of public speaking. This is another love of mine.

I’m currently a speech writer and public speaking coach for pageant queens. I am currently developing a program to help children build public speaking skills and I look forward to sharing it with you all.

I am a vocalist, dramatist, and pageant queen. Additionally, as mentioned before, I have a You Tube Series dedicated to words. It’s called Wonky Wacky Words.

There I introduce my audience, to the Wonkiest, Wackiest Words that actually exists and words with mega cool meanings.

Its for all ages so check it out and get wonky with me lol!

YouTube: https://youtu.be/rm3L8vpACko

What message are you sharing in your books?

It’s all about mental health. The mind is the most essential part of what makes us, us and what makes us succeed.

Unfortunately, though, insecurities, negative self-talk, negative environments, and in general poor mental health practices, hinder us immeasurably.

So, my dream is to equip children with the tools they need to keep their minds healthy and happy.

My mission is to: “Teach our children to Master Their Mind, so they can Master Their Realities.

In this I can see them excel academically, financially, and truly be free human beings.

What are your favorite books?

I am a huge fiction fan! Both Young Adult and Adult Fiction tinkle my fancy.

My all-time favorite book series is The Vampire Huntress Legend by L.A Banks.

If you could create an author’s group with writers from any time period, who would you invite?

L.A. Banks lol (I’m sure you saw that coming), Felisha Bradshaw, this awesome blogger right here.

P.C. Cast- and I’d ask her where is book 4 of the Tales of a New World Series? and Tomi Adeyemi.

I’m pretty sure there are more but those are who I can think of right away lol.

Who has influenced your writing the most?

As it pertains to my children’s books, I’d have to say my students. Their troubles and triumphs keep my creative juices flowing.

In general, maybe my mom, I want to use all my talents to create a better life for her.

When you’re not writing where can we find you?

Reading, watching Japanese Anime, or doing Karaoke.

I’m also usually in church or at a church event, teaching or hanging out with friends and family.

P.S. Food would most likely be involved in most if not all of those. I LOVE FOOD.

A movie producer wants to turn your book into a movie, and you get to make a cameo. What would you do in the movie?

I would be Isabel’s mom. Encouraging her every day to speak into being everything she desires for herself.

I would speak life into her, every day, making sure that my little Issy knows how powerful and loved she is.

An elf named 12-25 approaches you. He’s sneezing, wheezing, coughing and there’s a strange tattoo of a snoring dog on his cheek. What do you do?

Did you say Elf? OMG!

Normally I would offer the poor dear some tissue and ensure that he was ok. Then we’d have to talk about Santa of course.

Eventually, I’d ask what inspired the tattoo and since when did elves start getting tattoos. But, its 2021…. and Covid-19… so I’d most likely head for the hills, because Lord alone knows what magical Covid-19 could do.

What are your most effective marketing strategies?

I am still figuring this out, so if you have some advice, feel free to share them.

Do you have a website/Facebook page, etc?

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/speak_peek_childrens_books/

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/speakpeek/

Phone:  +1-868-760-5699

Email Address: SpeakPeekTT@gmail.com

Amazon Author Page: https://www.amazon.com/~/e/B08NCGPZL6

Where can we find your books?

The book is available on Amazon in both E-Book and Paperback.

Additionally, if you live within Trinidad & Tobago, it can be ordered directly from me, however on Book link http://www.amzn.com/B08N9ZSFQB

Thank you, Djennicia, for spending time with us and sharing your story. We wish you continued success and lots of luck!

Djennicia’s Featured Book

Available On Amazon

Come spend a day in the life of little Isabelle Ink as she asks every living thing “What do you see in the Mirror?” Endearing Isabelle Ink is a remarkable little girl who believes in the magic and power of Positive Affirmations!

So imagine her surprise when she hears her best friend saying negative things about himself! What will Isabelle do?

Come dive into “In The Mirror” to find out, as we teach our Children, to Master Their Minds so they can Master Their Realities. This book is written with Mental Health for Children in mind.

It aims to foster Self Love and help children develop Emotional Intelligence all while featuring Diverse Characters.

It also comes with Affirmation Games for Families and Classrooms alike, to truly bring to life the lessons learned!

Coming Soon: The Next Best Cupcake By Rebecca Greene

Available April 2021!

Get ready for some messy baking fun!

The Next Best Cupcake is about a boy named Dylan who is diagnosed with a tree nut allergy. Dylan loves cupcakes more than anything!

But one day, Dylan eats a cupcake with pecans, and has an allergic reaction. He is told by his doctor that he now has a tree nut allergy and he can no longer eat his favorite bakery cupcakes. What will Dylan do?

He decides to face this challenge with determination and resilience and takes on the challenge of baking his own allergy-safe cupcakes at home that get his classmates cheering.

Special features of this book include a discussion guide with conversation starters to spark meaningful discussions and an original, top 8 allergen-safe cupcake recipe that kids can bake at home.

Align Ourselves Book Tour

Available Today On Amazon

Book Excerpt:

“Your Grace,” they all heard Grace say, “Your wonderful sister has returned.” 

Aria could almost hear the smile in her voice. 

“I see that,” the young man at the front of the room said. His voice was deep and gravely. Aria found it a little scary, if she was honest. 

“And why is it that my sister returns days later than expected,” he asked. Aria could hear him getting up, his chair scraping the floor. 

“Unforeseen complications, Your Grace,” Grace said. Aria was sure that she was smiling now. She could hear him coming down the steps towards them.

She decided to look up. 

He walked towards Grace. When he was standing in front of her, he reached down and offered her his hand. She grasped it, and he pulled her up. And to Aria’s surprise, he hugged her.

Grace wrapped her hands around his neck while he placed one hand on her back and the other on her head. He kissed her cheek before letting her go. 

“Are you okay? Did everything go smoothly,” he asked in a quiet voice.

“Yeah, it was fine,” Grace said. 

He nodded and finally looked past her to the group of people kneeling in the center of the room. 

His eyes landed on Aria’s first. She dropped hers to the ground a second later. 

She heard him take a few steps towards her. He stopped right in front of her. She decided not to look up.

He stood there for a few moments before moving on, walking around the group in a circle. When he was in front of Aria again, he spoke up.

“What the hell is this,” he asked.

Still, Aria didn’t look up. She was pretty sure no one else did, either. 

“I said the exact same thing,” Grace said, joining the king at the front of the group. 

“They’re a bunch of children,” he said, with a little edge to his voice. “Look at them. Not a single one of them can be over the age of twenty. These are the people that the Terra just had to get rid of? As if they’re some great threat,” he said. 

“Apparently,” Grace said. 

“How have they survived? They’re practically skin and bones,” he said like this was some sort of trick. Aria could feel anger replacing her fear. “And you couldn’t have soaked them in some water before bringing them here? They’re absolutely filthy,” he said. 

Aria could feel herself getting tense. Her knee was starting to ache, but she didn’t dare look up. Not just yet. 

“This is their leader,” Grace said.

The king took a step towards Aria. He put a hand on her chin and pushed her head up, making her finally lift her eyes from the ground. 

“Aria…” he said, sounding her name out. “Aria from under the ground. Rise,” he said. 

She stood up; she wasn’t sure how. Her legs felt like jelly. Being closed off in this room, with nowhere to run, made her feel like she was back in that tiny dirt room, trapped. 

He studied her face for a few minutes. 

She felt her cheeks flame under his scrutinizing gaze, aware of how dirty she was. 

“Tell me, Aria, from under the ground, how has such a little girl managed to survive all this time? How has a child convinced brutal warriors not to kill her and her friends? How have you caused so much trouble for the Terra that they would be desperate to be rid of you?”

Something about his tone and the mockery in his eye made Aria angrier than she’d ever been. 

“I don’t know…but perhaps you will find out,” she said before she could stop herself. 

But the king only smirked. 

“Perhaps I will,” he said.

About The Author:

Adrianna is a 28-year-old wife and stay-at-home mom to her 1-year-old baby boy. She comes from a large Mexican American family and was born with Cerebral Palsy.

She also holds an MLIS degree and greatly enjoys getting to tell people she’s a librarian.

Facebook – facebook.com/authoraschuh

Instagram – authoraschuh

Twitter – author_aschuh

Goodreads –  https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/55885124-align-ourselves

Author website – adriannaschuh.com

Bookbub – https://www.bookbub.com/books/align-ourselves-by-adrianna-schuh