Tag Archive | reading

Becky Villareal – Books for Children

becky

Today we welcome Becky Villarel,

 Born in Dallas, Texas to missionary parents. 

“As the fourth of five children I was often left to my own devices to entertain myself.  So inventing new stories became my passion at a very early age where I would create small books out of any scraps of paper I could find around the house.

“For twenty years I taught in the Dallas Independent School District.  For the past ten years I have been completing family research on my mother’s and father’s families. The grandmother of two I enjoy writing and spending time with my family.

“As an elementary teacher and ten-year veteran of genealogy, I have been able to enjoy not only working with children but finding out about my family history.

One of the books you wrote, Gianna the Great, is an interesting book. Tells us about it.

“Gianna just wants to know about her ancestors, but she has to join an after school history club to do it. Now, she’s about to embark on a journey that will change everything she thinks she knows about her family. becky first boookAknaXBL._SX326_BO1,204,203,200_

The mother is both unwilling and unable to give her information on her father.  Finding out information is a big part of the story.  In the beginning of the series, she doesn’t want her daughter digging up old bones because of how her own mother reacted when she was expecting Gianna.

What was your primary reason for writing the books?
“To encourage children to explore their ancestry.  This would mean actually talking to their grandparents to get information.  In today’s society, so few families take the time to talk to one another anymore and I was hoping to begin these important conversations.  When the older members of our families pass away, that link to the family history is often lost.
“The use of Multicultural books in and out of the classroom in this day and time is imperative  when so many children are coming from multi-racial and multi-cultural backgrounds. The need for them to see their reflection in books is one of the ways to encourage them to become life-long readers and learners as well.”
Tell us about the Genealogical Research.
“Genealogical research is taking what you know about your family and searching for what you don’t know.  It begins with discussions with  parents, grandparents, and any family members who might have information; this includes pictures and stories.  After this information is put together, you can begin an actual family tree (see attached) this is where it becomes like a puzzle. What piece is missing, a name, date of birth, or place of birth?  These records can be found online many times through Family Search.org that has one of the largest databases available free of cost.   There is also the National Archives and Genealogy Departments available in the larger libraries.  As the tree grows, so does the bank of information that can be put together in book form and given to relatives.
“By learning about my family history, I found out why my hair is the color and texture it is, why I have an overbite and why I have a very strong, determined nature that can take me through the many trials of life.  It is because of my ancestors and the resilience they
have shown that I am who I am.”
Then you wrote, Halito Gianna.: The Journey Continues. Tell us about it.
“On her  journey, she was able to access online information and find out things she never envisioned. However, many of the questions she has remain unanswered until in the new book, Halito Gianna: The Journey Continues Gianna Saldaña finds out about connections she never knew existed.” becky second book41R488IPoBL._SX331_BO1,204,203,200_
Why did you get into writing and researching this information.
“I have been a family genealogist for over ten years now and have researched ways of finding out obscure information online.  When my own children began to ask questions, I knew I needed to have the truth in hand.  This gave me the idea of Gianna who is modeled after one of the students I worked with who is bright, articulate and curious.
There is a third book currently in the hands of my wonderful agent Jessica Schmedlier who works with Golden Wheat Literary Agency that promises an even better journey!
Becky, thank you so much for visiting today and telling us about these wonderful books.
These are great books for parents to get for their children.
Be sure and visit Becky at:
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Once A Judge–Goldstein-Now Author

authorphoto_debrahgoldstein  Debra H. Goldstein is the author of Should Have Played Poker (A Carrie Martin and the Mah Jongg Players Mystery) that just released in April and the book, Maze in Blue.

Are you still a sitting judge?

No. Although I remained a sitting federal Admaze-in-blueministrative Law Judge after my first book, Maze in Blue, was published. I decided to step down from the bench and pursue my passion – writing.

 

Do you
draw from the cases you have presided over? 

At this point in my writing, I haven’t felt comfortable drawing from the cases I presided over, but I occasionally use bits and pieces from my past experiences for scenes or steal characteristics from people I have met during my legal career.

For example, in my first published story, Legal Magic, two lawyers think a courtroom is empty.  Suddenly, they hear the voice of the judge who is to hear the case fill the courtroom like God speaking on the mountain. Looking around, they realize the judge is lying down behind rather than sitting at his bench. This exact scenario happened to me when, as a litigator, I appeared in front of a judge who injured his back, but wanted to continue hearing his docketed cases until the date of his scheduled surgery.  Because he couldn’t sit, he placed a cot behind the bench and held court lying down.  Eerie as the actual experience was, it was a perfect scene to incorporate into a story.

I think that is probably the most unusual thing I’ve heard a judge do, and I agree, it is eerie but funny. Might make a good trilogy!

What has been the biggest surprise to you in writing a novel?

The biggest surprise is actually hearing the characters’ voices – especially if I start veering from where they think the story should go.

Has developing plots and scenes been easier for you because of your experience?

For me, plots and scenes grow out of my imagination spurred from chance encounters, overhearing a conversation, reading a news headline or almost anything enhanced by my various life experiences. My legal experience is especially helpful in fleshing out twists that involve courtrooms or issues of law.  It makes it possible for me to avoid common fictional legal mistakes and to know odd things that might move a story along.

My writing reflects the totality of my life experiences rather than simply my legal career. This becomes clear if one analyzes the character of the protagonist, Carrie Martin.  She is a young corporate attorney whose father moved into the Sunshine Village Retirement Home because he has mild dementia. Although what happens to Carrie on the job never happened to me during my first legal job with a major corporation, I pulled upon that experience as the starting point to write about Carrie’s responsibilities, challenges and interaction with co-workers. In the same way, I used my mother-in-law’s reaction to the initial stages of Alzeheimers, research I did when a family member was considering moving into an assisted living facility and memories of my mother’s long term Mah Jongg game to make the story realistic.

poker  Your newest book, Should Have Played Poker, tell us where the idea came from.

Writers are always told to write what they know.  In my case, I started thinking of my relationship with my mother.  Unfortunately, it makes for a boring story to say my mother desperately wanted a daughter, loved me unconditionally, and encouraged me in everything I did.  Consequently, I decided to write the opposite of what I knew – a story about a woman whose mother abandoned her when she was a child and how that impacted her as she grew into adulthood. This concept opened up doors to the characters who helped raise her, her internal and external emotional ability or inability to relate to others, and her reaction to how her father’s dementia will eventually change their relationship.  The problem at this point was that Carrie’s life story was pretty heavy.  I needed a counterbalance for the story to be enjoyable for the reader.  As I thought about it, I remember the retirement home Mah Jongg players I used in my first published story, Legal Magic, and realized they would be the perfect comic foil for Carrie.  Once they came into the picture, the story flowed.

Tell us about your main characters in that book and how you chose them.

The main character in Should Have Played Poker is Carrie Martin, a twenty-nine-year-old corporate attorney who is precariously balancing her job and visiting her father in the Sunshine Village Retirement Home. After having abandoned her family twenty-six years earlier, her mother returns and leaves her with a sealed envelope and the knowledge she once considered killing Carrie’s father.  Before Carrie can discover what is in the envelope or why her mother returned, her mother is murdered at the retirement home where Carrie’s father lives.  When the detective assigned to her mother’s case, Carrie’s former live-in lover, doesn’t seem to be doing much, Carrie feels compelled to intervene in the investigation.  Needing help, she enlists the Sunshine Village Mah Jongg players to help her sleuth.  I chose to use the Mah Jongg players because each has a separate personality but together they come together as a family – something that is important to Carrie.

What is the one thing you enjoy most about writing?

The most fun of writing is creating a story that entertains readers, but while I enjoy the process of seeing a story unfold from my imagination, I also am having a blast interacting with readers and other authors.

What authors do you like to read?

Of all the questions you’ve asked me, this is the most difficult one to answer.  I love to read and read everything I can get my hands on, but that means I have no one favorite author. Recent authors whose books I have enjoyed include Kristen Hannah, Linda Rodriguez, Hank Phillippi Ryan, T.K. Thorne, Janet Evanovich, and Jane Mayer.

What’s next for Debra H. Goldstein?

For the next few months, I will be traveling and speaking to book clubs, libraries and other groups about Should Have Played Poker. I am in the process of revising a new book, One Taste Too Many, that I hope will find a home in 2017, and I recently signed a contract for a new short story to appear in Alfred Hitchcock Murder Magazine.

01-sw-cover-july-2016-rev There is an excellent interview article about you in Southern Writers Magazine’s July/August issue. An interesting excerpt to me was…“T wo days after graduating early from the University of Michigan, Debra H. Goldstein went to the Big
Apple with two goals: obtain a job in publishing and get on Jeopardy. “In case things didn’t work out while I pursued these goals, I spent each evening during the first
few weeks typing applications to enter law school in the fall”. If you would like to read the interview visit  http://www.southernwritersmagazine.com/subscribe.html and order the July/August 2016 edition. Or email annabelle@southernwritersmag.com and order it.

I read your book, Should Have Played Poker and enjoyed it very much as did my husband. Looking forward to your next book.

Thank you for visiting. 

Be sure and visit Debra Goldstein at http://www.debrahgoldstein.com/ she will be delighted to hear from you. If you want a good read, order her books.