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Saturday, February 24, 2018

Interview with Tim Benson, filmmaker and storyteller -part 4

Hi Everyone,
Today I'm welcoming back Tim Benson, amazing filmmaker and storyteller for another part of his interview. We'll get right to the questions.


Do you have a favorite character from one of your stories? 

Oh wow, I have so many favorites....but for brevity sake, I’ll wittle it down to two that I’m especially fond of:  

Calvin, (in “The Bike”) is a 10y/o boy who starts his own lawn care business. He’s on a quest to buy the Retro Rocket - his DREAM bike. He’s saved for over 6 mos and is getting close. This is a special boy. 

And of course, Mia, (in “Cupcakes”) She’s a beautiful soul and takes on the most formidable of foes. Girl Power!
I bet I'd like both of them, too, Tim. No doubt they're fun to meet.
Do your stories have a message? 
I tell stories that celebrate children and families and the relationships that knit us together. I explore our vulnerabilities, our fears, our strong will, and our enduring hope and dreams for the future. My characters are ethnically diverse and showcase the fact that we are all human with the same basic wants and needs. I tell stories about grit, determination and perseverance. When all is dire and it looks like there’s no way, we must fight on. Never give up. 
I'm sure your characters have many fans, Tim and I l love the "Never give up" message.
What are your long-range goals? 
My 5-year plan is to continue writing and directing my own films, both animation and live action. My next project after Cupcakes, will be a short live action film, The Bike, which I will produce and direct in my home city of Rochester, NY. My longer-term (and dream creative venture) is to write/direct feature length animated films. 
I hope you achieve all of your goals, Tim. My bet is you will.

Is there anything else you’d like to add?
Sure, I guess one more thing before we sign-off....I’d like to encourage all aspiring artists (whether it be writers, painters, singers, musicians, etc.), that it’s NEVER too late to express yourself in what you have passion for. I started my creative journey in the middle part of my life, but I (God willing) still have another 40 years of writing and filmmaking to pursue. 
So, my message is...if you’re not currently working on your craft, I urge you to START today. Just do ‘something!’ Something small. Something that may seem inconsequential. Something as simple as writing down a story idea that’s been bouncing around in your head, or sketching a doodle, or sitting at the piano and seeing what happens. Give yourself a chance to realize who you were created to be. 
I’ll leave you & your readers with a great book recommendation: “The War of Art, Break Through the Blocks & Win Your Inner Creative Battles,” by Steven Pressfield. It’s a must read for ALL creative types. By the way, I have no stake at all in the book. [laughs]. I just like it and recommend it highly. 
Thank you, Deanie, for the opportunity to talk with you and to share my story. It was a pleasure. We’ll see you at the Cupcakes premier.
You're welcome, Tim. We've had a great time. It's been my pleasure to meet you.
copyright 2018: Deanie Humphrys-Dunne

Interview with fabulous children's author, Cindy Shirley!



Hi everyone, Today we're welcoming wonderful children's author, Cindy Shirley. It's a pleasure to chat with her today. We'll get on with the interview.



When did you realize you wanted to write children’s books?
I first began thinking about writing a children's book after our granddaughter was born. She is now four years old and she is the main character in my Christmas book, Doodle and the Magic Christmas Float. My husband and I have designed Christmas floats for the past three years to promote my business. Our family enjoys this tradition every year! 
Wait until she's a little older so she understands more about what happened. You already have much to celebrate together.
How do you get the ideas for your books?
Two years ago, our float won the best holiday float out of 83 participants. After the parade, we came home and had to take all of the decorations and lights off of the trailer. It almost made me cry LOL. I told my husband this poor little guy was the star in the Christmas parade and now will sit in the backyard all alone. The trailer actually belongs to a friend of ours and he leaves it out in the weather all year long until we borrow it again. So, that started the whole idea of writing a children's book. Doodle and the Magic Christmas Float was created. 
The other books that I have written or actually based on my family. The characters are illustrated from their photos

Tell us about each of the books you’ve written?
My personal childhood experiences of being bullied in school for having red hair and freckles, was the basis for Diesel the Body Guard: No Bullies Allowed!. The boy in the story really did call me those names and was very mean to me until I took a stand and fought back. Let's just say a handful of rocks makes a big difference when you deal with a bully. LOL. But the bullying ended as a result of me standing up to him.
Diesel is a real rooster and belongs to my sister. He is very protective and made a perfect body guard in the story. I mixed my story with a little bit of fiction and Diesel the Body Guard: No Bullies Allowed! was created.
Also, both of my books in the new series of The Fabulous Life of Minnie The Sassy Chick, are also based on a real chicken that belongs to my sister and my nieces. Minnie is their pet and actually takes a bath and has her feathers blown dry. It is hilarious! You can also find videos of Minnie on YouTube. When my sister shared one of these silly videos, my mind took off and the new series was created. I also own a business called Let's Pretend Spa Parties. We do in home spa parties for girls age 4 to 16. You will see elements of these sweet and sassy parties in the new Minnie book.    
Your books are all amazing. You should be proud of all your talent.
Do your books share messages?
 The story lines in each one of my books are filled with wonderful lessons for elementary school aged children. I try to include messages about friendship, compassion, responsibility, and respect for others.
You have lots to share with children.
Are you working on any projects now?

My new book, Go-Cart Gertie is about a young girl who wants to race go- carts. When her older brother makes the statement, "you're a girl and girls can't race!" The challenge is on! It’s about not backing down from a challenge and also about equal rights for girls. This story is hilarious when the girls versus the boys in the Gilbert family. This includes her grandmother who plays a very important part of encouraging Gertie to prove the boys wrong. 

Hopefully this book will be released in April. It's different than my other books and I'm excited to see how well it's received. 
Best wishes on your new venture.
What else would you like to share?
All four of my books have received five- star reviews from Readers Favorites and readers in general. So I guess I'm on the right track. Lol. 
My very first book that I self- published was Diesel the Body Guard. It won a silver medal in the 2017 Readers Favorite International Book Competition, and was the Gold certificate winner in the Human Relations Indie Book Awards. It also earned an Honorable Mention in the 2017 ATAI Awards. I am so proud of this wonderful book and hope it helps kids learn how to deal with bullying in school. 
Who is your favorite children’s author?
My favorite children's author is Beatrix Potter. I have a huge collection of Peter Rabbit memorabilia. I have collected these items for years. I think her characters are adorable and the illustrations are beautiful. She's definitely my favorite children's author. 
Thank you again for spending time with me today, Cindy.
My pleasure, Deanie
 Copyright 2018: Deanie Humphrys-Dunne

Friday, February 23, 2018

Celebrate the small things


Hi Everyone,
How was your week? Hope it was lovely. What are you celebrating this week?
Remember this blog is here so we all can celebrate big and small things because sometimes the small things are the best. Stop by LexaCain.blogspot.com and see what's happening.
Here's what we're celebrating:

  • We had a couple of really warm, spring-like days. Can't wait for more of them to get here.
  • the Olympics have been fun to watch.
  • Making good progress toward republishing my book, Charlene the Star and Hattie's Heroes. We revised it and added another illustration, with a new cover.
Hope next week is a good one for you. Looking forward to hearing your news.

copyright 2018: Deanie Humphrys-Dunne

Website: www.childrensbookswithlifelessons.com

Coming Soon!  Charlene the Star and Hattie's Heroes


Monday, February 19, 2018

Interview With Storyteller/Filmmaker, Tim Benson -part 3


"Hi everyone, Today we're welcoming filmmaker/ storyteller, Tim Benson for part three of his interview.

What project are you currently working on?
re you currently working on? 
We are currently in production of my inaugural short animated film, Cupcakes. Cupcakes was inspired by my volunteer work with the Ronald McDonald Charities and tells a story of Mia Gonzalez, a 5 y/o dynamo superstar who opens a cupcake & lemonade stand to benefit her sister who has leukemia. 

The making of Cupcakes has been quite an adventure and I’m still amazed by how much work/time it takes to produce 6-7 mins of 3D animation. It’s been an incredible learning opportunity for me with quite a steep learning curve as the technical rigor and complexities of animation are just mind-bending. I’ve been so fortunate to work with some brilliantly talented animators/artists who amaze me every day. It’s almost surreal for me as a writer to finally see my characters coming to life on the screen. So amazing. 
I'm sure you're keeping up with the learning curve, Tim. it sounds like you and your team are enjoying your work a great deal. No doubt, Cupcakes will be a huge success. I love stories that promote good values.

When will Cupcakes be completed?
The film will be completed later this year and will be released in early 2019. We will submit to film festivals around the globe and will hold the film premier and gala with all proceeds benefiting Ronald McDonald House Charities. We can’t wait to share this story with the world. 
Best wishes with it, Tim. Please give us updates when Cupcakes is released.

How can we learn more about your film?
You can visit the Story Giant Films website under the Cupcakes page to learn more. 

There you can read the film script and get the latest film production updates. As a side note....we are currently in development of the official Cupcakes website, which we will launch this spring. 
That sounds very exciting, Tim. We'll all want to keep up with your progress with Cupcakes.

Thank you for spending time with me again today, Tim. As always, it's been an honor.
My pleasure, Deanie. I'm looking forward to our next visit."
Copyright 2018; Deanie Humphrys-Dunne

Friday, February 16, 2018

Celebrating the Small Things

Hi everyone,
Sorry I"m so late with posting. I was busy with a project all day. Anyway, hope you enjoyed your week, including  Valentine's Day. What are you celebrating this week?
Here's what we're happy about;

  • My book, Charlene the Star and Hattie's Heroes is nearly ready to be re-released in a new version. There's a separate post about it on this site.
  • I received a big surprise this week. Someone nominated me "Children's Author of the Month" for Wild Fire Magazine! The funny part is, when I first got the notification on Facebook, I thought it said, '"Wildlife Magazine" and  I thought it was a mistake. Why would someone feature me in Wildlife Magazine? :)
  • The Olympics- I love watching them, but it's disappointing that some of the US figure skaters have been having a tough competition so far. It's one of my favorite things to watch.
That's the news for now. Wishing you all a great week. Be sure to check out LexaCain.blogspot.com to see what everyone's been cheering about. Hope you had wonderful celebrations.
copyright: 2018 Deanie Humphrys-Dunne

website: www.childrensbookswithlifelessons.com

Thursday, February 15, 2018

Coming soon: Revised version of Charlene the Star and Hattie's Heroes!







Hi everyone,
I have exciting news to share today. One of my books, Charlene the Star and Hattie's Heroes, will be released soon in a revised version. Hattie the adorable red chicken, helps her animal friends to solve problems. She is adorable, dressed in her bright, colorful bonnets. This is the second book in the "Charlene the Star" series.
From the back cover:
     Charlene the Star was known for her jumping skills and ability to win in horse shows. But in this adventure, she wants something exciting to do in her spare time. What will Charlene and her friends do for their new career?  What is Wooliam’s specialty? Does his dream come true? Young readers will enjoy this amusing tale, told be the adorable animal characters.

Excerpts from reviews:
     “One way to positively influence our children is to expose them to good books that are engaging, entertaining and fostering healthy approaches toward life. This is exactly why I highly recommend Deanie Humphrys-Dunne's lovely book "Charlene the Star and Hattie's Heroes”, which enchants and entertains while it promotes wonderful traits and virtues” ~Amazon review-SRM Reviews

“Charlene the Star and Hattie’s Heroes is a book that would appeal to young horse lovers and animal lovers…It's about helping others, working hard, setting goals, doing your best, and being a gracious winner or loser.-from review by Sherry Ellis

“This is a perfect book for children; it lets them see how other people with challenges and obstacles persevered due to their determination to succeed.” ~ Amazon review by Joyce Mitchell

 “This is an exceptional story for children of all ages.” ~ Amazon review by Janice Spina

Illustration by Holly Humphrys-Bajaj from Charlene the Star and Hattie's Heroes.

Website: www.childrensbookswithlifelessons.com

Wednesday, February 14, 2018

Interview with Stroyteller/Filmmaker Tim Benson Part 2

 Welcome back, Timothy Benson. Let's continue with part 2 of your interview.
Can you give an example of this technique from one of your stories?
Sure, okay. Let me see....I observe a group of children jumping around in a bounce house at a b-day party (a couple of my children included therein). This bounce house floor kinda looks like giant bubbles woven together. Those bubbles actually remind me of giant larva. Then my mind jumps to...Kids jumping on giant larva? Then...Why are there giant larva in a nest on the forest floor? How did they get there? This sole image (and resultant questions) was the catalyst that started churning my imagination and spawned a complete story about three middle schoolers who race to save a city under siege after a greedy extermination company's genetic experimentation goes horribly wrong. Yes, Giant Mutant insects! Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs meets Arachnophobia. This is my sci-fi/adventure screenplay, HATCHED, which came about because I stopped at the bounce house. 
You are so blessed with an amazing imagination. It's amazing that you can start developing a story idea from something as common as a bounce house.
How did you get into animation?
My ventures into animation came about through my compulsion to see my stories animated on the screen. Trying to sell animation feature speculative screenplays to Hollywood proved difficult...ummm...almost impossible.....okay, no luck yet, I’m still trying!! The big studios don’t buy, they cultivate stories from within. The smaller studios want you to bring production dollars with your script. My agent couldn’t get any traction. I was frustrated. No one was interested in HOOKED. How could that be? 
There were so many times I thought about giving up, or considered writing for live action, or in a different genre, but THEN came my watershed moment. A notion occurred to me: 
What if I wrote, produced and directed my OWN short animated film? It could be a pathway to break into the animation world. A means to becoming a “produced” writer. And a way to share my vision for the screen with the world. I was all in. 
It's amazing when we get those intuitions that change everything, isn't it? You must've been elated.

Thank you for participating in the second part of our interview, Tim. It's such fun learning more about you and your career.
You're welcome, Deanie. It's been a pleasure.
for more on Tim's work,  please visit this link:


copyright 2018: Deanie Humphrys-Dunne