Friday, April 26, 2013

Susanne Jacoby Hale, author of Shades of Gray

Author Bio:
SUSANNE JACOBY HALE, a former drop-out prevention teacher in a New York City high school, earned a master's degree from New York University in education and creative writing. Although, when she began teaching in the real ACE program, depicted in Shades of Gray, she had no idea that it would change her life forever. Having been out of the classroom for a few years, Jacoby Hale still felt the need to make a difference in the lives of students. Shades of Gray is semi-autobiographical.

Title: Shades of Gray
Author: Susanne Jacoby Hale
ISBN: 978-1-4620-6102-0
Page count: 347
Genre: fiction
Price: $20.95

Tell us about your book:    In inner-city New York, horrors lurk in the unruly hallways of Malcolm High School. As in-school riots and gang violence consistently envelop the classroom, Olivia Dalton attempts to teach her students while simultaneously directing a drop-out prevention program that embraces an ever-increasing group of at-risk students. Left with little hope she will ever have children of her own, Olivia becomes entrenched in her students’ lives, partly out of love, but also out of an unconscious desire to avoid her own internal anguish.

Meanwhile, Olivia’s devoted husband, Tom, is having trouble facing his own disappointments in not being able to create a family. In an effort to protect Olivia, he attempts to hold her back from the one place she feels useful and fulfilled—her career. But despite her husband’s efforts to quell her desire to help the troubled and confused, Olivia presses on and believes in change, even in the face of her students’ continual mistakes and poor choices. Neither Tom nor Olivia have any idea that everything is about to change when an unassuming gift is left at their door.

Shades of Gray is the profound story of one woman’s unpredictable journey to the truth, new beginnings, and a kind of love she never knew before.

How long did it take to write the book?
My book started as a series of short stories. Somewhere along the way, it occurred to me that they could all be melded together. At that point things started to move, but the whole process was years – with a few breaks in between.

What inspired you to write the book?
Shades of Gray is semi-autobiographical. I actually did teach in New York in a dropout prevention program and loved every day of it. The students, the program, the stories that touched my life stuck with me and were undoubtedly my inspiration. I learned as much from those kids as they may have from me.

Talk about the writing process. Did you have a writing routine? Did you do any research, and if so, what did that involve?
I write best when left alone. After I stopped teaching, I was fortunate to have time after my own kids left for school each day. That is when I write. At the same time, I carry a pad and pen at all times, because I am constantly reading and people watching and never know when something or someone may strike me. It could be as simple as a word that I can envision describing a character. I love words.
As for research, yes, I did some.  Although I was familiar with infertility from friends and family, I had to learn more about adoption. The internet is incredible. You can literally read people’s stories firsthand. People share just about anything in a blog.

What do you hope your readers come away with after reading your book?
I hope Shades of Gray can play a part in eradicating people’s notions that color matters. The idea that we are all the same underneath is real and when people begin to see the world in shades of gray, literally, it will be a much more peaceful place. This is more of my overall message, but if I were to break it down, I am hopeful that educators will be inspired to bring the love back into their classrooms and that people who want children will realize that inter-racial adoption is not just for celebrities.  There are too many children right here wishing for forever families and they don’t care what color they are. Love doesn’t come in colors.

Excerpt from book:

First three chapters are available for download at:

Where can we go to buy your book?
My website:

Any other links or info you'd like to share?

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Viji K. Chary, Mom's Choice Honoree of Porcupine's Seeds

Author Bio:
Viji K. Chary was born in India and immigrated to the United States at the age of two. Her passion for writing stories began in elementary school and has evolved from coaching children in various activities including gymnastics, classroom activities and creative competitions. Her stories have been published in Highlights for Children, Ladybug Magazines, Hopscotch for Girls and many more. Recently, her first picture book, Porcupine’s Seeds received the Mom’s Choice Award.

Title: Porcupine’s Seeds

Author:  Viji K. Chary

ISBN: 978-0983801849

Page count: 28

Genre: picture book
Price: 11.99
Tell us about your book:
My latest book is Porcupine’s Seeds. In this book, Porcupine longs to grow beautiful sunflowers in his garden, just like Raccoon. When Raccoon give Porcupine seeds, she says that all they need is soil, sun and water. But growing sunflowers is not easy for porcupine. 

Porcupine's Seeds also connects to early elementary science curriculum.

How long did it take to write the book?
The idea of writing this book came to me years after the incident that inspired the story. I really don’t remember how long it took to actually write it. I imagine writing the first draft would have taken a few weeks. It is the revisions that take months. It takes time to adjust sentence structure, character development and the flow of the story.

What inspired you to write the book?
When my son was four, we planted seeds in small pots. As he went inside the house, he tripped over the threshold, and the soil and seeds scattered. This incident sparked a story idea that became Porcupine's Seeds.
Talk about the writing process. Did you have a writing routine? Did you do any research, and if so, what did that involve?
Every day is different for me.  I write out a ‘to write’ list at the start of the month. On the weekends, I plan my work for the week. I begin with the most time-consuming work first. Some days, I am writing for an assigned story, and other days I focus on applying for grants or work on marketing. If I am working on a non-fiction piece, I do all the research first. This can take a lot of time – finding the resource, reading, taking notes on all the sources. There are also WIP stories to work on. Occasionally, there are days for reading and analyzing target magazines.

What do you hope your readers come away with after reading your book?
Porcupine’s Seeds has beginning science concepts. But it also shows Porcupine’s perseverance at a task that does not come easy to him. I hope that readers some away with that character growth as well. 

Excerpt from book:
Wh-whee! A strong spring breeze swirled through the garden, and the seeds tumbled away.


Where can we go to buy your book?
Porcupine’s Seeds is available at

Any other links or info you'd like to share?
Please visit my website, for more information.