Tag Archives: Kimba

Author Interview With Book Club Reading List

I’m thrilled to have another interview posted, this time with the Book Club Reading List web site. 482 people recommended it on their Facebook pages. Who knows what that means in real life, but Kimba and I are happy for whatever attention we can get for our new book! I should add that we would love to Skype with any children’s book club that is reading “Why Kimba Saved The World” for free. The text of the interview is pasted below. Enjoy!

Author Interview – Meg Dendler

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What inspired you to write this book?

I have been writing for years, but this particular story was inspired by the real life Kimba. She is such a kook and is constantly into something. I love her beyond reason in that way that only crazy cat ladies can truly understand. As a child, I had heard a story about cats being aliens and communicating through mirrors with cats on earth, so it didn’t take much for me to start imagining Kimba being a part of that. She and her sister, Hiro, spent the first few months of their lives living in our bathroom, so I just let my thoughts about what they might be up to in there when we were gone run wild.

What topics in your book or background do you think book clubs would find interesting?

“Why Kimba Saved The World” is a children’s book, but I have had many adults read it and be just as interested in Kimba and the choices she has to make. We all have things we want to be free from, to feel independent, but that freedom comes with challenges of its own. It’s not always all we thought it would be. What if that freedom meant hurting someone else? Kimba’s decisions echo the same ones we all face in our lives.

Tell us about your career outside of writing and how it influences your writing.

I spent many years working with and later teaching young children — preschool, kindergarten, and early elementary. I have been certified to teach in two states and hold a Master’s Degree in Early Childhood Education. Language Arts and Reading were always my specialties and favorite parts of the curriculum. I always spent way too much money on books when I went to teaching conferences and loved reading them aloud in class and at home to my own daughters. Any time I am working on a book, I try to think about how it would be received by a child just listening to it — not yet able to read it him or herself. For a book like “Why Kimba Saved The World,” it is important to walk that line between the child being able to read it independently and an even younger child listening to it aloud and being absorbed by the characters.

Describe your style of writing?

I consistently lean toward third person omnipotent, the outside source who knows what everyone is thinking and sees all as the narrator. It isn’t that I went through different ways of presenting the text and ended up with that one, it is just what is comfortable for me as a writer. Both the sequel “Vacation Hiro” and an unrelated book “At The Corner of Magnetic and Main,” which I am working on now, have that same style. I also test my text against that read aloud-ability scale that I mentioned earlier. I read paragraphs out loud and edit them when it doesn’t flow well or I find myself naturally using a different word or phrasing than what I originally wrote. I helps me catch mistakes in the text too.

Which authors have inspired you?

I am very blessed to have a mother who loves books. When I was in elementary school, bedtime stories included T.H. White’s “The Once And Future King,” “Watership Down,” and Anne McCaffrey’s Dragonriders series. She continued to read aloud to me long past when I was an independent reader, and that is so important. It allowed me to “read” books that were still a bit beyond me but had amazing vocabulary and stories. We also had all of the Wizard of Oz books (by Baum and his daughter), the Laura Ingalls Wilder series, Beverly Cleary, Roald Dahl, Judy Blume, and Madeline L’Engle. After reading “A Wrinkle in Time,” I insisted that everyone begin calling me Meg (my nickname at the time was Molly), and it stuck. It’s probably not surprising to hear that “Socks” was one of my very favorite books growing up. I read it dozens of times. As a teacher, I grew to love newer authors like Don and Audrey Wood, Lois Lowry, and Jean Craighead George. When I tried to read aloud “Charlotte’s Web” to a group of first graders a couple of years ago, I couldn’t make it through the part where Charlotte dies without crying. To say out loud that she was all alone at the end was so heartbreaking. Now that’s great writing!



Author Interview With Meg

I was thrilled to do the following author interview with the Book Marketing Buzz Blog web site. Here’s the text of the interview with a link to the blog at the end.
Interview With Author Meg Welch Dendler
1.      What type of books do you write? Picture books, middle grade readers, and so far one more YA style book is in the works. “Why Kimba Saved The World” is my first published book, but there are two others on the way for 2014.
2.      What is your newest book about? “Why Kimba Saved The World” is about a pampered house cat who wishes she could be wilder and have more freedom, until she suddenly learns that she is really part of an alien race and has a whole huge destiny and big adventures expected of her. It’s exciting at first, but she has some life-changing choices to make about what is important and where her loyalties lie.
3.      What inspired you to write it? The main character is based on one of the cats in our house, Kimba. I had grown up with the idea that cats might just be aliens — my mom read lots of science fiction — so it wasn’t much of a stretch to wonder if that was true of Kimba too. That led me to wondering what would happen if the young Kimba of my imagination was put in that situation of finding out how big her life really could be. Later books in the series will focus on the different characters and how they deal with their own challenges in coming to terms with their alien heritage.
4.      What is the writing process like for you?  My head is all full of good ideas, and I usually have the story totally complete there, but it is very hard for me to put down a first draft. That’s not terribly uncommon, but it is very frustrating. Once I get most of the story on paper, I do better with the elaborating and editing process. That part is fun, but the first draft is like house cleaning — I know I have to do it and I’ll regret it if I don’t, but I come up with lots of ways to avoid it. Setting a release date for the sequel has kept me on task this time round. My office is in a room without windows in our basement, which can be kind of depressing when the weather is nice, but Kimba hangs out with me, and I have a huge collection of Disney mini-plush toys that watch and encourage me too.
5.      What did you do before you became an author?  I have been writing since I was a little girl, and I did freelance work for many years as an adult. I worked for over 10 years as a certified teacher and moved around over almost all of the grades when opportunities came up. Teaching was great fun, and I’m still in touch with many of my students, but writing is where my heart lies.
6.      How does it feel to be a published author? Magnificent. For many years it seemed out of reach because I just didn’t have the right connections or the time and money to go to lots of conferences and meet people. I’m so grateful that through the freelance work I have done over the years I did know the right people to serve as book guides and help walk me through the nitty-gritty of taking a manuscript and making it look professional and just as wonderful as every other big publishing house book on the shelves. Knowing that I have the control to keep doing that over and over without having to send out dozens of letter selling myself is amazing.
7.      Any advice for struggling writers? Write, and then write some more. If you have a book in your head, go for it! But also be sure to get input from people around you that you respect. Join a critique group. Go to conferences. Sometimes I get the best idea on how to tweak a story or “bling” it up some just by listening to others talk about their work. And pay an editor if you are self-publishing. Pay someone to help you make the best cover you can. You MUST have a good cover! If it doesn’t look professional in the end, it won’t matter how good your story is. Make it great!
8.      Where do you see book publishing heading?  Ebooks and self-publishing are clearly the future of book publishing. How to navigate through the influx of books that will hit the market that way is the tricky part. I’m grateful to be in on it during the first few years of the boom so that I can establish myself as a quality writer and stand out from the coming pack. There may be a ton of not so great books that manage to see publication in that way, but it is also a fantastic way for unknown writers to make their mark. I hope I can be in that second group for a long time to come.
To learn more about Meg and her book, “Why Kimba Saved The World” (Serenity Mountain Publishing), check out www.megdendler.com.

See the full article and other information at: Book Marketing Buzz Blog     

The Book Reviews Game

Now that “Why Kimba Saved The World” is settling into the business of getting noticed and sold, I am forced to enter into a whole new world of self-promotion. Normally, whatever publishing house bought your book would take care of all of this nonsense. It would tell you where to show up for a book signing or event and make all the calls and connections for you. Self-published authors have to pay for this service or do it themselves. Paying for promotional work is very pricey (and rightly so, it’s nasty, time-consuming work). Promoting and selling a self-published book can feel like one big game, and it sort of is. Knowing how to play is the key. Thank goodness I have a degree in Public Relations.

Back in the late 80’s when I completed that degree, the game was very different. It was more about working for big corporations and writing press releases to help promote or cover up something. By the time I was in my last year, I knew I didn’t really want to do that for a living. It was just a core group of classes that I really enjoyed. Lots of English, Journalism, Creative Writing, and Technical Writing. I never worked a day as a publicist (I went back to school to earn a teaching degree), and I never thought I would. Until now.

Most afternoons when I sit down at my computer to face the challenge of how to get my book noticed and appreciated, I hear Queen singing “Play The Game” in my head. It is a very elaborate game, so I’m grateful for the generous spirits along the way who share their advice freely. I have links to them in my blog roll already, but I should give a shout out to Katie Davis and Joanna Penn. Both of them offer lots of products and seminars and blogcasts you can purchase for in-depth information, but they are also free with the freebies. If you are in the same boat as me and need to know how to play this book promotion game on your own for as little cost as possible, start with these two women. They will give you enough fodder to stay busy for many months. I have never met either of them and have no vested interest in whether or not you purchase their products. I just highly recommend them.

My current game is to get book reviews. This is VITAL if you want to play the amazon.com rank and algorithm game. No one knows exactly how it all works, and they seem to be changing the game from month to month so you must stay up to date on what they like and don’t like, but the big #1 whammy to get better rankings is reviews. They don’t even have to be fantastic reviews. It seems to be very much about quantity and who those reviews are from. My first target was the top 1,000 ranked reviewers at amazon.com. Yes, it was a lengthy process, but I made sure that anyone I was in contact with was willing to review children’s books. In the end, out of 1,000 I made contact with 28 of them. Three responded and agreed to be sent a copy and do a review. I’m not sure if that is a great percentage or not. It does not feel like a home run, but it’s something.

Now on the agenda is getting in touch with bloggers who do book reviews. Again, I’ve taken a big list from a web site, narrowed it down to potentials, and now I am going through one site at a time. Sometimes it is immediately clear that the site would be a bad fit. Books on vampires or romance novels (or worse) filling the pages are a good hint. Out of the first 30, I’ve send requests to 7. One has responded enthusiastically and already has the epub file to review. Many times you just submit an author interview format which may or may not be posted. We shall see where that all leads. It’s not an amazon review, but it’s web traffic and may lead to more later.

It’s a game. It is not for the timid or the part-timer. Self-publishing allows for wonderful opportunities for so many people to get their books out into the world. Getting them into people’s hands is a different matter altogether. So I get up every day, write my 1,000 words on “Vacation Hiro,” and then I spend a few hours playing the game of finding an audience for my first soul book baby in a vast sea of children’s books. But this game is just the opposite of “War Games” — if you don’t play, you can’t win. So onward I go.

And here’s a fun Kimba picture because everyone loves cute cat pictures.

Kimba Napping With Mickey Mouse

Kimba Napping With Mickey Mouse


If you are just getting started with a children’s book promotion, I highly recommend “How To Promote Your Children’s Book,” by Katie Davis. I have not even made it through all of The Creative Penn’s free blogs and audios, but I’m sure her stuff is great too.

Writing (or Procrastinating?) the Sequel

For the month of April, all other writing work is being set aside so I can give my full attention to Book 2 in the Cats in the Mirror series, “Vacation Hiro.” This time Hiro takes the lead and gets mixed up with the alien cats in the mirror. Those rascals have found just the right way to play on her emotions and sway her to their side of things — at least for a while.

I must admit, for me personally as a writer, the first draft is the most painful and wrenching process. I have read over and over that many authors feel this way. Once I get that first draft done and start elaborating and adding on and editing, I am in heaven, but putting it all down for the first time is laborious. It doesn’t matter how detailed my notes are. I can know exactly where I want the next chapter to go, but I still have to set a timer when I sit down at the computer to make sure I stay on task for a set amount of time and get it done. An expert at this type of stalling might even say that taking the time to write this blog post is a perfect example of doing something else very important-seeming instead of writing another chapter. I am generally not a procrastinator,  except about the laundry, but I can get very busy doing all kinds of work other than the next chapter with very little problem at all.

But I promise to be diligent. My husband, Scott, will keep me on track. This is his baby’s book, after all. And I have a stack of notes for Book 3 that can only be tackled once I know exactly where Book 2 will end up. So I push onward. My hope is that next spring when I hit the festivals and art fairs in town I will have both Kimba and Hiro’s books to sell. That is the joy of self-publishing. Once you have the text ready to go, the rest of the process can be completed in a couple of months. No one can put that text together but me, so I’ll get back to it. You’ll never guess who is waiting in the mirror for Hiro in the next chapter. So excited!!

But wait. Is that the dryer I hear buzzing…?

Hiro is dreaming of a book about her on the computer.

Hiro is dreaming of a book about her on the computer.





Kimba and My Disney Toys


Kimba and her Disney friends

I freely admit to loving stuffed animals. If you’ve read “Why Kimba Saved The World,” you know that I have quite a collection of Disney mini-plush toys, and Kimba loves them as much as I do. Back in our Houston house, she had a bed up on the shelf with them, and it was her favorite spot to sleep. She also has a little game she plays with them. Every night, when all the humans and the other three cats go to sleep (yes, Hiro, Samantha, & Tabitha have adjusted to a human sleep schedule), Kimba runs the house and plays with the stuffed animals. She jumps up on the bookshelves where they are displayed, picks her favorites for the night, and carries them around the house, singing. It actually sounds more like she is saying “Hello?”. She loves to bring them upstairs and leave them outside my bedroom door, but most recently she has been bringing them to my daughter. This is a new development. And I caught it on video. In my next book, I think I’m going to have to include this. Click on the photo, and it will take you to YouTube so you can watch her nighttime antics. Crazy cat.

First Sold Book and 21st Century Friendships

This morning, I put pen to inside title page of my first sold copy of “Why Kimba Saved The World” and signed it to my dear friend Annette Bridges. I had several orders to fill today, some of them even from family, but Annette’s order was the first I received. It only seemed fitting that she should get the official “first copy.” Annette and I are the epitome of a 21st century friendship.  I’m not sure how we first connected, but we bonded over a shared love of writing. She recommended me as a columnist for www.religionandspirituality.com, and I loved the year or so that I wrote “Spiritually Significant Cinema” for them. It gave me the chance to not only go to every movie preview showing in town, but also to interview the likes of Kirk Douglas, Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson, and Sylvester Stallone. Unfortunately, another job I held at the time felt these columns were a waste of my time and highly discouraged me from continuing. So I let it slide. But my friendship with Annette continued. We have kept in touch through the social magic that is Facebook. These days, as we both move into the book self-publishing game, we have begun reading and previewing each other’s work. But here’s why I think we are a perfect example of a modern friendship–we have never actually met, face to face. The power of the internet allows us to chat freely through email and follow each other’s life-journeys over Facebook. Just because I have never been in the same room with this friend doesn’t mean I don’t feel just as close to her as folks I worked side by side with for years.  It doesn’t matter where in the world we end up, I have a feeling that we will still be in touch 20 years (and hopefully dozens of books between us) from now. As people who respect each other often do, I’ll share my friend’s web site so you can check out her delightful book, “The Gospel According to Mama.” I’ve already read a preview of the sequel and written a heart-felt endorsement. As my first sold copy of “Kimba” whisks its way through the mail to Annette (along with 3 other copies she ordered),IMG_5990 I will share her web page link as the first of many people I highly recommend.



Graphic Artist Shout Out

It seems appropriate to give a moment in the spotlight to the graphic artist who conceptualized and created the cover art for “Why Kimba Saved The World”-Leslie Hollinger Vernon. Her work was arranged through my publishing super-helper, Carol Hohle, so we never spoke directly. (I hear that Leslie has just had a new baby, so mazel tov on that too!!) In the beginning, I even had a totally different concept in mind with the image of Kimba reaching up and touching a mirror (which will make sense once you have read her story). Where we ended up, including just the exactly right color of purple for the background, is so much better. Cover art, especially in children’s books, is HUGELY important. Based on how Leslie’s work was purchased, she is not credited in the book itself, but I wanted to make sure her name is out there somewhere. Well done, Leslie!! You will be hearing from me again.

Paperback Available!

I’m thrilled to announce that paperback copies of “Why Kimba Saved The World” are now available at amazon.com! If you go to the “Kimba” page at my site, you will find links to purchase it from amazon, or you can buy a signed copy from me directly (which comes with a free bookmark). Sadly, the ebook version is still having some issues, so if you want to read it that way just hang in there a couple more days so you can get a really clean and pretty copy. It is amazing how difficult the conversion and ebook process is, and I’m grateful to have professionals helping me out there. It has really been a labor of love to see this book through so much that is normally handled by a publishing company, but I had grown tired of getting responses like “very creative, but not right for our list at this time” — if I got any response at all. Even more often, I found that good publishing houses are closed to anyone without an agent to submit for them. So…thanks to modern technology and amazing folks like Carol Hohle who know their way through the maze of book creation, I was able to share this fun story with the world myself. I hope you enjoy sharing it with all of the young people in your life…. and that you enjoy it yourself.