Today, Feathered Quill reviewer Ellen Feld is talking with Michelle Blanshei, author of Boo-Boo the Shih Tzu: Boo-Boo NO!
FQ: Tell our readers a little about yourself. Your background, your interests, and how this led to writing a book?
BLANSHEI: Raised in Northern California, Michelle is a late bloomer to the publishing world, and can still be found working full time for a non-profit, helping rural communities across the Western United States (RCAC) as an Assistant Director of Events.
Michelle has always had a love for dogs, and throughout her life has had many breeds, but the Shih Tzu is her favorite. Boo-Boo the Shih Tzu is a real life not so perfect puppy that makes Michelle smile and laugh every day.
Michelle is a mother of two adult children, and can be found hanging with them, taking long walks, practicing yoga, and visiting the mountains to be with her guy, playing golf, or paddleboarding. (All activities include Boo-Boo)
FQ: Have you always enjoyed writing or is it something you’ve discovered recently?
BLANSHEI: I've always wanted to write a children's book, but needed the inspiration. My dog Boo-Boo was the inspiration I needed. I also had some self doubt too, but I put that aside and discovered how much I loved this process and I already have 3 more books written. At 62 years old, I am learning, growing and developing as a person, writer, and mother, partner and friend.
FQ: Tell us a little about your book – a brief synopsis and what makes your book unique.
BLANSHEI: Boo-Boo the Shih Tzu is a mischievous silly puppy. Boo-Boo wants to explore the world but is constantly getting into trouble and his mom and dad are always saying Boo-Boo NO!!
Boo-Boo will steal your heart with his sweet disposition, big brown eyes, wagging tail, big personality, and sense of adventure. Boo-Boo the Shih Tzu- Boo-Boo No!, is a wonderful, charming story of a not so perfect puppy.
What makes this book fun, is the repetition of saying: BOO-BOO NO! In future books the repetition will continue: GOOD BOY BOO-BOO! HAPPY BIRTHDAY BOO-BOO!
FQ: What was the impetus for writing your book?
BLANSHEI: Boo-Boo is my real life puppy, who is 11 months old, and he is a cartoon character in everything he does. He makes me laugh and smile and gives me so much joy everyday. I had to share Boo-Boo's charm with the world.
FQ: Please give our readers a little insight into your writing process. Do you set aside a certain time each day to write, only write when the desire to write surfaces, or ?
BLANSHEI: My writing process is simple. I write first thing in the morning. I try to write a few pages at a time. My writing is either done on paper or on the computer. I just dump my thoughts down and them move them around and play with words. Since these books are meant for early readers, and toddlers, its more about bringing the antics to life with illustrations.
FQ: What was the hardest part of writing your book? That first chapter, the last paragraph, or ?
BLANSHEI: For me the hardest part of writing, was fear that no-one would like it or buy it. My age group (60's) are grandparents now. So, I put fear aside and just wrote it. I know the children's book market is very saturated and competitive, but Boo-Boo is pretty special and I couldn't wait to share his craziness.
FQ: The genre of your book is Children's Picture Books. Why this genre?
BLANSHEI: The genre of this book, Boo-Boo the Shih Tzu is children's picture books, ages 1-4. Illustration and pictures tell the story of what a trouble maker my puppy is. I am a reader, and I love fiction, mostly murder mystery and historical fiction. But I read just about anything. I have always been a reader, and had a love for books. I love children's books so much.
FQ: Do you have any plans to try writing a book in a different genre? If so, which genre and why?
BLANSHEI: Ive always wanted to write a book series about Little League, for early readers. I even have a title, but can't seem to get any traction on it: Joey, and the Great Debate. We will see where it goes.
FQ: Who are your favorite authors?
BLANSHEI: I have several: 1. Dr. Suess - pure magic and both my kids loved the rhyming. 2. J.K. Rolling. - The Harry Potter Series was so creative. The imagination was so captivating. 3. Agatha Christie. Others include: Nora Roberts, John Grishman, Sydney Sheldon, and James Patterson.
FQ: Which do you find easier, starting a story, or writing the conclusion?
BLANSHEI: Since my stories are so simple, it really doesn't matter, but I think starting it is easiest.
FQ: As an author/writer, what famous author (living or dead), would you like to have dinner with, and why?
BLANSHEI: Dr. Suess is who I would love to have dinner with. He just knew what kids wanted to hear. His stories were magic. The Cat in the Hat, Green Eggs and Ham and Oh the Places You'll Go. Come on...these were all so fun for toddlers and both my kids learned to read with Dr. Suess book.
FQ: What is your all-time favorite book? Why? And did this book/author have any influence over your decision to become an author?
BLANSHEI: My all time favorite book, hummm that is a hard one. I have so many books that I just loved.
As a child, my favorite books were Nancy Drew.
As a teen, my favorite books were Danielle Steel.
As a young adult my favorite books were Sydney Sheldon
As a young mother my favorite books were Dr. Suess
and as an older woman, I read everything.
FQ: Where do you think you’ve improved the most in your writing process and ability and how do you think you have evolved?
BLANSHEI: Well, I think I know my audience, little kids. Bright colors, pictures tell the story and funny antidotes and make kids laugh and smile. Repetition, rhyming, color, is also important.
FQ: Is this the first book, the second, etc. in the series and how many books do you anticipate writing in this series?
BLANSHEI: This book is the first of a series and I have no idea how many more Boo-Boo books I will write. I currently have Boo-Boo's Birthday and Good Boy Boo-Boo written, and my illustrator has both books and is working on them currently. I also have Boo-Boo's Big Brother, Yogi, Boo-Boo Goes to the Vet, Boo-Boo the Ghost (Halloween), Boo-Boo's First Christmas.
FQ: Tell us a bit about the series. Do you know where the series will take the characters or are you working that out as you go along with each book?
BLANSHEI: Each Boo Boo book with follow the same pattern - a description, a photo and a repetitive saying, such as Boo-Boo No, or Happy Birthday Boo-Boo!. This is great for early readers.
FQ: Do you see your series going longer than originally expected? More stories to write than originally planned?
BLANSHEI: Yes, Boo-Boo the Shih Tzu is ever evolving and he is quite the character. I can foresee many options for growth and additional stories.
FQ: Where did the idea for your story come from?
BLANSHEI: The real Boo-Boo is a cartoon character, 100%. His daily antics are silly, and his face is just so darn adorable. He is a story waiting to happen.
FQ: Did your family & friends encourage you to write your book?
BLANSHEI: My friends and family encourage me every day and totally support me. They encouraged me continue and ask me about my progress. They also offer suggestions. They are my biggest fans.
For more information on Boo-Boo the Shih Tzu: Boo-Boo NO!, please visit the author's website at: www.michelleblanshei.com/