Intimate Conversation with Michelle Morgan Spady
The author, Michelle Morgan Spady, is a retired child care center owner, and teacher of English and Computer Technology. Ms. Spady loves reading and writing and tells many of her stories from her memories of days in the classroom and on the playground. She says that her writings are enriched by the illustrations provided by her artist son, whose love is in creating characters for her to develop in her stories. They work as a mother and son team.
With the formation of their company, ‘B’Artful’, dedicated to promoting emerging artists and writers and the release of their third book together, the duo are on a roll. Michelle Spady and Bradford O. Spady co-produced "An Artist and His Obsession", "7 Days 2 Tell" and the anti-bullying tale, titled: ‘ShoozyQ and the AB Crew in Bully on the Playground’. Ms. Spady lives in McLean, VA with her husband and son.
BPM: What motivated you to sit down and actually start writing this book?
I work with children all the time, and throughout many of my interactions with them, I am always conscious of the way they talk to each other and the way the solve their problems. I used to get very involved when my son would come home with stories of how he had been "over-powered" or "bullied" by some kid. One day this poem came to me and I wrote it down. I found some of my son's characters that he had drawn that I thought would fit the story perfectly. That's what got me started on the idea of writing and publishing a book.
BPM: What motivated you to become an indie author?
I like challenges, and I have been keeping journals for years saying that one day I was going to write a book. I still have not penned the book that I have had in my heart. for years There is a story that I want to tell. Right now, I'd like to help my son launch his career for storytelling and drawing.
BPM: Does your upbringing or life experiences inspire your writing?
Yes, all the books that we have published so far have some relevance to either his or my upbringing. The book 7 Days 2 Tell about college groups and hazing, is more about teens having to make a moral decision as to whether they should snitch on the fraternity and what they witnessed, more so than the act of hazing. ShoozyQ about bullying and An Artist and his Obsession is about relationships and friendships.
BPM: Do you write full-time? Do you write every day? Do you have a special time to write?
No, I wish I could write every day. I love writing, but because of our business there is so much more to do once we've finished a book project. The publishing process can be daunting and overwhelming, then there's the marketing.
BPM: Where do your book ideas come from? Are your books plot driven or character driven?
My son, Bradford came up with the idea of his first book "An Artist...". ShoozyQ..." and "7 Days..." were my idea. We write about what we're interested in. We don't want to be "pigeon-holed" into any one category. He likes to draw characters first and then write stories around them. I help him a lot with the writing, so it is challenging for me sometimes to have to come up with a story that he has already "drawn". He is of course, visual and he can draw a whole story. I have find the narrative.
BPM: Introduce us to your current work. What separates this story from the millions of other books on the shelves? Is this book available in digital forms like Nook and Kindle?
Well ShoozyQ and the AB Crew is a book about a group of kids who play on the playground every day and there is a bully who taunts them. One day ShoozyQ decides to stand up to the bully and she gathers her friends and tells them to follow her, she has an idea of how to get the bully to change his ways and just play with them instead. Without giving away the whole book, she uses positive words.
What makes our book different is that it is "written in poem format, the book uses vibrant illustrations, and a good dose of positivity to encourage children to look at bullying from another perspective. ShoozyQ and her “crew” persuade a schoolyard bully to change his behavior without being mean and abusive themselves – something that is often overlooked in books with an anti-bullying message.
“We include activities so that educators can get the discussions going with children. It’s important to keep the ball rolling after the story is over, and really get to the root of what the kids have learned from ShoozyQ’s experiences." It is available on Kindle and IBooks.
BPM: Give us an insight into your main characters. What makes each one so special?
Because our characters are "cartoony" their very fun. My son, allows me to name them most of the time, so by the time we have completed a story we feel as though we know each one. My favorite character in the ShoozyQ book is the little African American girl named Kiana. She's got personality and she wears red cow girl boots. I went out and bought me a pair the character motivated me so. Actually, we have plans to promote Kiana little more after we get the ShoozyQ book off the ground.
BPM: Can you outline some areas where your characters dealt with issues that are in current affairs?
In this book it's all about bullying, even hazing is about a form of bullying. ShoozyQ shows that children on both sides of bullying incidents need help. Everyone wants to help the victim or the kid who's been bullying, but not a lot of attention is shown to the bully or the bystander. As adults we should openly talk to our children about bullying before it happens. Studies show that children between 3-5 are most impressionable, and this age sets the foundation of how we will interact with people in general as we grow. Parents should never ignore bullying behaviors, and should model and teach their children about empathy, (the number one emotion most bullies don't have), kindness, compassion and positivity.
BPM: What topics are primarily discussed? Did you learn anything personal from writing your book?
On a personal level I felt it an honor to work with my son. He never ceases to amaze me. He has always struggled with learning differences, and before we started working together, I did not realize how creative, and smart he really is. He knows a lot about a lot of things. It is truly a joy to work with him. We both challenge and learn from each other.
BPM: What would you like for readers to take away from your writing? How do you go about reaching new readers?
ShoozyQ and the AB Crew in Bully on the Playground - First and foremost for our last book we'd like for them to leave with a better understanding of what bullying is all about and how taking a different approach to resolving conflicts can be very beneficial to the bully, the bullied and the bystander. I hope that the awesome illustrations that my son provides will motivate people to want to check us out.
BPM: What defines success for you, as a published author? What are your ambitions for your writing career? What would you like to accomplish after the book is released?
This is like a third, maybe fourth career for me already. I was a former teacher, a systems analyst and major account sales rep in a Fortune 500 Company and my husband and I have owned a company which once had a multi-million dollar contract with a state lottery for 13 years. At this stage of the game, success for me is seeing my son accomplished at whatever it is he'd like to do. We want to continue writing books for awhile and I'd like to see us accepted as serious authors and illustrator in the business. My son would like to see some of his characters in an animated featured film production.
BPM: Where do you find your daily inspiration or muse?
My son is my daily muse. He is so passionate about what he loves to do and that is drawing. He draws from the moment he wakes up in the morning (afternoon) till the wee wee hours of the night (morning). He makes me want to produce something, and help him.
BPM: Were there any challenges in bringing this story to life?
No, everything went pretty smoothly since this was my second self-published book. The process wasn't as daunting as the first, but yet challenging to dot all of your "i's" and cross all of your "t's". It makes it easier when you write the story yourself, illustrate the book yourself, and publish. You have total creative control over everything. There are some pros and cons to that. Of course, in self-publishing you are totally responsible for the product that you put out. The good, the bad, the ugly. You can't blame anyone for mistakes. No margin for error.
BPM: What are your expectations for this series of books?
My son is working on another book now and we are thinking of making it a series. As far as this one goes, we'll just market it and its message for as long as we can. Anti-bullying!
BPM: What are your goals as a writer? Do you set out to educate or inspire? Entertain? Illuminate a particular subject?
My goal is to inspire other writers and my son other artists. Our business B'Artful LLC hosts workshops and events for emerging authors and artists to enhance their creative skills. We talk about it on our website.
BPM: What would you say are the main advantages and disadvantages of self-publishing?
I think the major advantage is that you have total control over your product. You can get it out as soon as you want or as late as you want. The disadvantage is, if you don't know the process you can miss some steps and then NOT have a quality product. It is up to you to find graphic designers, editors, copyright your material, buy all that you need to publish in paperback, hardback and ebook.
BPM: Are there any areas of your writing career that you wish you could go back and change?
Not yet, I do wish that I had started sooner in my life. I think I would have many more books published by now.
BPM: Is there anything else you would like to add that I haven’t included?
Just that, if there are any parents reading this I'd like to say to them to always listen to your children. I found some papers from when my son was in kindergarten he wrote that he would be an artist when he grew up. He used to draw "stick drawings", but look at his work now. I'd like to think a lot of his growth came from us as parents nurturing his interest in art, and it hasn't stopped. He's 20 years old now, and we are still following him and his dreams. If you have a book you're thinking of writing, don't hesitate, go for it! You never know.
Michelle Morgan Spady, Author & Publisher B'Artful, LLC
B'Artful Website: http://www.bradspadyart.com
ABOUT THE BOOK
Written in poem format, ShoozyQ and the AB Crew in Bully on the Playground uses vibrant illustrations, and a good dose of positivity to encourage children to look at bullying from another perspective. ShoozyQ and her “crew” persuade a schoolyard bully to change his behavior without being mean and abusive themselves-something that is often overlooked in books with an anti-bullying message. The colorful drawings and simple, effective language all tie together to make ShoozyQ an exciting read for kids, and a learning tool for parents and teachers. There are activities at the end of the book for parents and educators to practice with the children.
Purchase ShoozyQ and the AB Crew: Bully on the Playground
ShoozyQ and the AB Crew in Bully on the Playground
ShoozyQ and the AB Crew in Bully on the Playground
ShoozyQ and the AB Crew in Bully on the Playground
General Education-Picture Book for K-4th grade. Available at Amazon.com, IBooks, Kindle, IngramSparks, CreateSpace & B’Artful.com for bulk discount