Sunday, December 1, 2013

Why Are Destiny And Faith Biracial?

A few days ago a fan asked me the million dollar question. Okay, maybe it's not a million dollar question, but it's definitely one worth answering. 

Why are Destiny and Faith biracial?

I could answer this in many ways. I choose this one.

I was eight. I wasn't popular. Most of the kids didn't even notice my existence. I still remember the day clearly in my head.

"We're going to be having a new student tomorrow. Her name is Hope. She is going to sit next to Teddy.

I tried to picture Hope in my head. Another kid who would be mean to me. Another kid who would refuse to acknowledge my existence. Another kid who would make fast friends with all the popular kids. Another kid who wouldn't like me.

The next day came and I got to meet my new seat mate.

"Hi, I'm hope," she informed me.

"I'm Teddy," I responded shyly.

She didn't stop talking to me after that. We talked more and more every day, until the teacher eventually separated us. I was never in trouble in class until Hope came along, but I had never had a true friend either.

We spent each recess together, began going back and forth to each other's houses, and were bullied together. For different reasons, though.

I was the weird kid. Hope was biracial. Her mom was white and her dad was black. Due to her race, Hope spent a lot of time being caught in the middle. She wasn't quite white enough...or quite black enough. She was forced to choose role models who were outside her "race".

We spent a lot of time writing and drawing. I would illustrate her stories, and we would dream up new ideas together. One of these ideas would be Fillie and Lillie, the inspirations behind Destiny and Faith.

We talked about the twins a lot. When we were eighteen I realized that I needed to settle on a look if I was every going to publish a book about them. We mulled over a couple different options. 

"I want to make them biracial," I decided.

"Are you sure?" Hope asked.

"Yeah, I want to make them biracial like you. I want biracial kids to have role models. And be able to read books about other biracial kids. The book doesn't have to be about being biracial."

"It might be controversial," Hope warned me.

"That's okay," I told her.

And that is the short story behind why Destiny and Faith are biracial. 

Because biracial kids need role models too. 

Because not every main character has to be white, or even black. 

Because biracial children do exist. In fact, there are lots of them.

Because even if you're not biracial, you can still read about and have fun with biracial characters.

Because they just are.

Faith rocks her natural curls.

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Book Signing And Release!

I will be doing a book signing on release on December, 14, 2013. I will have copies of my newest book Destiny And Faith's Summer Adventures as well as a few copies of Tell Me How You Say Good Night and Destiny And Faith Go To Twincentric Academy in case anybody hasn't read the first book yet!

I will be willing to sign any book you buy or any book (that I wrote) that you bring in. Feel free to take bring your cellphone cameras for pictures.

Link to the facebook event:

Friday, November 22, 2013

Review And A Giveaway

"Wrap your mind and heart around a good story," is the motto for Marilyn Panton's blog Storywraps. We can definitely get on board with that motto! 

Marilyn Panton's blog is cute and adorable with lots of great books and reviews. There is plenty of information, but the site is not confusing at all. That's why we thought Marilyn would be a perfect reviewer for Tell Me How You Say Good Night.

Well, Marilyn also decided to do a giveaway with the book. 

It is signed by Angie Dickens.

It is signed by Teddy O'Malley (that's me.)

And it is a limited edition cover. (Alistair wrapped in blankets)

"Who doesn't love an adorable, sweet puppy?  Who doesn't like a snuggly bedtime story while you're all curled up in your bed with mommy reading to you, cuddling with you and getting ready to say good night?  These furry, puppy beauties will warm your heart as you flip the pages and see those adorable faces looking back at you with their big brown eyes.  They make you want to reach into the book and give each one a big hug!  What makes this book unique and stand out from other bed time stories out there?  Let me tell you."

Continue reading this review and check out the giveaway on Marilyn's blog!

P.S She's also posted the first three pages of the book for viewers of her blog to sample.

Saturday, November 16, 2013

Selling Books At The Lunch Table: A Crash Course In Self-Promotion

When I had just published Destiny And Faith Go To Twincentric Academy, which as I mentioned earlier is my first book, I really had no idea how to promote myself. But I did have a lunchbox.

A lunchbox? You're thinking. What does a lunchbox have to do with self-promotion?

For me, it had a lot to do with self-promotion.

I bought a plain pink lunchbox to take food and a drink to my job as a CNA. The lunchbox was plain, pink, and boring.

I drew Destiny and Faith on the front and back. Then I wrote lines from their books in the space left over.

Every once in a while I would catch someone staring at my lunchbox. One or two people pulled it closer to them to read the writing. Many people asked questions.

“Did you decorate your lunch box?”

“Yes, those are your characters?”

“Yes, they're from my book, Destiny And Faith Go To Twincentric Academy.”

“Oh, you're a published author,” they would say with enthusiasm as if they'd just stumbled upon some kind of gold.

“Yes, I'm an author.” I'd respond. Then we'd talk about my book. This resulted in sales many times.

And that's how I built a small group of followers for Destiny And Faith and my future books.

The lunchbox had proved valuable. Word spread throughout the building and I was soon bringing and boxes of books and distributing them on lunch break.

Life was good. Eventually, I would learn that word of mouth was only the beginning, but it was a great crash course in self-promotion.

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

My First "Book Tour"

On June 13, 2013, I convinced my mom to go walking downtown with me. We took a few copies of the books with us.

We visited the library. After oohing and ahhing over the cute puppies in Tell Me How You Say Good Night, they graciously accepted my donation of a copy.

We visited AJ's Fashion And Beauty Supplies. We had been here once before. We had talked to AJ and he had agreed to carry a few consigned copies of both my books. I provided him with a few copies of Tell Me How You Say Good Night and the only copy of Destiny And Faith Go To Twincentric Academy that I had left.

He bought Destiny And Faith and two copies of Tell Me How You Say Good Night for his own grandkids.

Then he added the remaining books to the display.

With a borrowed outfit from the store, I posed as Julia's Twin which was a whole lot of fun.

In order to help promote the store, I stood outside as Julia waving to cars that went by. I didn't expect to receive much response, but a few people waved back or honked.

After AJ's, we moved on and went to visit The Book Shop on Main Street. The Book Shop's owner, Carl Miller, graciously offered me a spot to carry consigned copies in the store. The books could stay there as long as they needed! He cleared a spot on the front display where the books could easily be seen. 

I was so excited, I had my mom take a picture.

At this point, I really couldn't help feeling a bit like a celebrity.

We took my photo outside of The Book Shop, and I promised that I would post the photos of the shop on my Facebook and website and encourage people to check out the shop.

If you live in Poplar Bluff, Missouri or are simply vacationing here, I do highly recommend The Book Shop and Aj's Fashion And Beauty Supplies. 

They are both great shops with very friendly people working in them!

Monday, November 11, 2013

Tell Me How You Say Good Night: My First Picture Book

In February 2013, my rescue dog gave birth to six beautiful puppies. I took lots of pictures. 

After Alistair became sick and died on April 9, 2013, putting the pictures together to make a book became a grief project. It was part of my healing.

Eventually, I decided on the theme of saying "Good Night" in different languages. My mom, Angie Dickens, and I began working together on the project. She helped me think of cute, rhyme-y stuff to say and picking the best pictures. 

We turned out to be a great team.

In May 2013, Tell Me How You Say Good Night was released. I was so excited that I immediately had my mom take pictures of me holding the book. 

I learned something new. The photographs got way more attention than simply posting the cover and linking to Amazon. 

Also, I had joined the ranks of picture book authors. My road had expanded, become wider.

New doors were open to me.

Sunday, November 10, 2013

6 Reasons Why I Put Put Off Blogging (and why you shouldn't)

I didn't think I had anything to write about, because I wasn't some big, successful NYT bestseller yet. But the truth is...we begin at the beginning. I realized that I could write about my experiences and trials learning to write, getting published, and getting my book noticed. We can all appreciate stories about how others initially marketed their books whether you were selling books at the lunch table like me or passing them off on people as birthday gifts (which isn't actually a bad idea by the way)

 I didn't think anyone would read it.
Ever heard that expression, "If you build it, they will come."? Well, it's pretty much true. But you can't just build it. You have to build it and make it interesting. If you're one of those people who is like I was and you're saying to myself, "No one will read my writing" you need to change your line of thinking. For every person in the world who has something to say, there is someone waiting to hear it. Believe me. It's true. You're not boring. Being a writer isn't boring. It's a wonderful journey and guess what! We all share your pain! You're trials and tribulations? Your fellow authors who will end up reading your blog have probably been there and we can probably relate. This leads me to...

I have nothing to share.
If you're a write (and I'm assuming you are one) then I think it's safe to also assume that you've written something. If you've written something then you can share excerpts of it on your blog. You can share a first chapter of your published blog or illustrations from an upcoming book. If you're not published you can share bits and pieces of your writing, potentially get feedback, and maybe even gather a following. How cool would that be? Very cool! If you read blogs (which you should if you're thinking about starting one) then you probably have (or will end up having) a favourite blogger. I have a few. It's always fun to read their posts because you enjoy their writing style and in some ways you might even feel like you know the person. 

Blogging is passé. (Okay, I didn't think this one, but I've heard it)
Blogging is by far, not passé, and not only is not passé, it's a great way to reach out to people you might never touch otherwise. Many others are doing it. Some give out writing advice. Some review books by other authors. Some talk about the trials and tribulations of the author's life. Some are a mixed-bag. A blog is different than a website. It reaches out to people in ways a website can't. It's interactive. Commenting on posts and hearing replies from the author really bring the two worlds together. If they want to know something about your book? They can ask you. If you are not sure what direction to go next? Ask your readers.

I have no experience in the writing world. If you have ever written anything then you have some experience in the writing world. The "writing world" is not limited to NYT best-sellers like Stephen King or Janet Evanovich. They are simply part of the writing world. That little kid writing stories and illustrating them on notebook paper? She's a writer too, and she also has experiences to share. Nobody is more or less a writer because they are or aren't published or because of the way they published. We're all in the same boat and I think most of us have the same goal. Our own private island and jets? Um, well, those would be nice, but the one I'm talking about is the goal to get our stories read.

I'm not writing a non-fiction book.
When I was first searching the web for advice to new authors and came to the inevitable part about starting a blog (this piece of advice is in almost every article for new authors there is, I think) they always suggest writing on your topic of knowledge. If you've written a science book then blog about science-y thing or if you've written a book on architecture you could talk about building things. But I didn't write a science book or an architecture manual. I wrote a few children's books. What I didn't realize at the time was that I wasn't limited to talking about the subjects of my books (though that's a great idea), but I could also talk about my life and experiences as an author. I could tell people about myself in my own voice. And it was a wonderful realization.

Did you put off blogging? If so, why? What advice do you have for writers who want to start a blog but are putting it off?

Saturday, November 9, 2013

First Chapter Excerpt From Destiny And Faith Go To Twincentric Academy

Teddy O'Malley

Destiny And Faith

Go To

Twincentric Academy

First Edition

Copyright © Teddy O'Malley

All Rights Reserved

Chapter 1

The Academy

“Destiny! Faith! I have something important to tell you girls!” my mother called from downstairs.
“What do you think she wants?” I asked.
Faith shrugged. “I just hope it's not something I did. Race?”
“Yeah!” I agreed. Faith and I raced down the stairs. She won only because she cheated.
“Girls, please sit.” Mom pointed to the chairs. Our four-year-old sister Olive sat near her, crashing her toy airplane into her muffin.

“Your father and I have made an important decision. We wanted to let you girls know about it and see what your thoughts and opinions are.”
Faith and I turned and gave each other an “uh-oh” look. When Mom wanted our thoughts and opinions it usually meant something not-so-good was coming up like her deciding to send us to our old Aunt Hazel's house.
The only thing Aunt Hazel let us eat was chocolate chip pancakes. I love chocolate but that was a little too much pancake for me!
Mom must not have known how to word it because she simply pushed a brochure towards Faith and me.
The headline read

Twincentric Academy
Where twins reign supreme!

I grabbed the brochure, opened it and read, “Give your twins the benefits they deserve. Twins are not like singletons. They have special twin needs. Our school supports important twin issues such as twin bonding, twin telepathy, and twin development. No other school pays special attention to twins like Twincentric does!”
“What do you think, girls?” Mom asked.
Before Faith and I could give our opinions she threw in, “I have already enrolled you girls for second grade in Twincentric so I hope you'll like it.”
“I don't know,” we both said. We looked at each other, both of us contemplating a school that paid special attention to twinship. It was true our first school did not.

There teachers had made a few attempts to separate us. They even asked us to “please stop dressing alike”.

~End of Excerpt~

You can also download a PDF copy of the excert from my website.

You can purchase Destiny And Faith Go To Twincentric Academy on Amazon too!

Saturday, November 2, 2013

How I Got My Start

It was a quiet afternoon. I had just finished about ten pages worth of story and illustrations. Smiling proudly, I handed them to my mother. “Here, go and get these published.”

My mom didn't want to disappoint me, so she agreed. But the truth was, she didn't know anything about the publishing industry. I didn't either. I was only nine.

In the meantime, I kept writing and illustrating, hoping that I would be able to publish my books one day.

When I was fourteen, I had a computer in my room for the first time. Now I had easy access to learn about the publishing industry. I opened a search site and typed in “publish your book”. Several results came up. I was overwhelmed.

After reading the first two sites, I felt a little sick to my stomach. This was going to be a long, grueling process. And I might never become an author. That thought alone terrified me. I decided to write some more and worry about the research later. I didn't look up publishing again for almost two years.

When I was sixteen I moved to New Port Richey, Florida with my family to be closer to my grandmother. My grandmother, who was an artist herself, saw my raw talent and began working with me, teaching me art, and giving me constructive criticism on my stories. We spent a lot of time at the local library. I delved back into my publishing research. I checked out every book the library had.

This time I read them all. I learned that there were many different routes to becoming a published author. None of them were wrong or bad. All of them had their own trials and tribulations. I learned about traditional publishing, vanity publishing, and later POD (print on demand publishing).

I dreamed, I made lists, and I mulled over the pros and cons of each type of publishing.

When I was nineteen, and barely out of high school, I finished my first book, Destiny And Faith Go To Twincentric Academy. Destiny and Faith were based off of two twin babies I had written about when I was younger (about ten years old) named Lillian and Filana (Destiny and Faith's middle names are a tribute to these original characters)

I wasn't ready to publish the story yet, though. It wasn't ready. I wasn't ready.

I had read that a great start for new authors was to get a short story published in a magazine. So I focused on that. I pulled my short story Bristol's Big Wish out and began cutting the word count until it was acceptable for a magazine submission. When I was finished, it was only 800 words.

I sent it to Highlights For Children without really knowing the criteria for submission. I was rejected. But it was the nicest rejection letter that I could have probably received. The letter mentioned how I was talented and the story was great. It just wasn't a right fit for their magazine. Maybe they were just being nice. I don't know. But I moved on.

Between nineteen and twenty-two I focused on writing fiction for adults. This was mainly romance and mystery romance. It was a whole different ball game than writing for kids. I liked it more and less at the same time.

While I had more freedom of expression, I also had less freedom for creativity. Or at least that's the way it felt. 

At twenty-two, I dug up Destiny And Faith Go To Twincentric Academy and decided that it was time to get it published. My mom was a nurse to a patient who also happened to be a former editor. She looked over my book, edited the grammar mistakes, and thought it was a great story.

In late 2011, we moved back to Missouri, using Poplar Bluff as a landing point. We ended up staying here.

In 2012, I finally finished publishing Destiny And Faith Go To Twincentric Academy with Createspace. I had chosen this route for a few reasons.

One, I wanted to keep all the rights to my book.

Two, I wanted to illustrate my own book.

Three, and most importantly, my father was dying of cancer and I wanted him to see me as a published author before he died.

Destiny And Faith Go To Twincentric Academy came out in January 2012.

My father received his own signed copy. He passed away two months later on March 9, 2012.

But for me, this was just the beginning.