Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Don't Tell me I have a Hippo's Fat Behind

I’ve been reflecting lately as to what children’s authors strive to convey to their readers. And I’ve come to the conclusion that bringing the love of reading to the most reluctant readers is a major goal. Sit back, relax, and enjoy getting to know one hilarious children’s author from down under, Margot Finke. WARNING: DO NOT under any circumstances be drinking a beverage while reading Margot’s laugh out loud interview for your drink will surely splatter your keyboard and screen.

DMc: Please share with our readers how you became a children’s author?

MF: When we first came to the US (Oregon) I wanted my three kids to remember their birth country, so every night I would point to the map of Aussie animals on their bedroom wall and say, “Pick an animal and I’ll tell you a story about it.” When I became a teacher’s aide, I took the map to school and began telling classes about Australia and all the wonderful critters there. Eventually I had to write the stories down, because kids would complain that I kept giving different endings to the stories. I used to forget how I ended it the last time – duh!! So that’s how it all started.

I had always written “stuff,” but never seriously. Overnight, writing became my passion. I would get terrific ideas in the middle of the night, sneak out in the dark to the bathroom, where I kept paper and pencil, and scribble away so the ideas would not get lost by morning. As soon as my head hit the pillow my brain churned out story ideas. I lost a lot of sleep, but gained many cool story ideas.

When I bought a computer (my first PC) I was thrilled out of my mind. Like so many beginners, I was sure I would be published by next month. Eons of rewrites, rejections and frustration later, I finally made it. YEA!! Patience, rewriting and hard work are a writer’s best tools. Throw in a little talent and luck, and you WILL get there eventually.

DMc: What or whom inspired you to write with the reluctant reader in mind?

MF: Oh, that was first-hand experience, mate. Our son, David, was a reluctant reader. Nagging, threats, bribes. . . nothing worked. Then I found the Hardy Boys series, chock full of the things his macho little heart craved. He read every one and begged for more.

I was determined to write “stuff” that would appeal to the “frog down the neck, gross underarm noises, and the wacky humor” boys loved. And I’d throw in a fast pace and some cool adventure as well.

My “Rattlesnake Jam” does this for the picture book crowd,

And coming soon is “Taconi and Claude, Double Trouble.

This MG Aussie adventure is for boys, and takes place on a cattle station in the Queensland outback, near where I grew up. There’s Taconi, a young aboriginal boy, trying to help his dad keep his job as station “cookie,” and his chatty cockatoo, Claude – always ready with a succinct one-liner. A crazed emu makes Taconi a hero, while Dreamtime Spirits and a magical kingfisher feather add to his problems. All this is topped off by a humdinger of a Corroboree, and as much snake, goanna and witchetty grubs a boy can eat.

DMc: Please share with us your latest release(s).

MF: This is for girls. Told in rhyme, and lots of fun, as well as being a useful tool for parents and therapists who want to help children come to terms with big changes in their lives.

Ruthie and the Hippo's Fat Behind

When Ruthie moved, she left all her friends and family behind. She left her old happy self behind too. She sulked, was rude to her parents, and threw tantrums. What had happened to their darling girl? Then, something unexpected surprised her, and the happy Ruthie returned. Find out what made Ruthie feel her old self again?

**Parent-Teacher guide included

Sample Verse:

"Young Ruthie's mood changed overnight, her smiles slunk off in gloom.

She wouldn't talk to Mom or Dad. She refused to leave her room.

Her parents scolded, begged and coaxed, but Ruthie paid no mind,

Her moods grew big and ugly - like some Hippo's fat behind."

Author: Margot E. Finke

Illustrations: KC Snider

** Snider is a well known fine artist who regularly shows her work in galleries, as well as known for her book illustrations.

Print ISBN 13: 978-1-61633-059-0

eBook ISBN 13: 978-1-61633-060-6

Where to buy:

Guardian Angel Publishing (GAP)

Margot Finke –

** A Personal Autograph comes with each hard copy bought from Margot's website + a bookmark.

SOON available from Amazon, B&N, Target and more.


DMc: I had the opportunity to read and review Rattlesnake Jam. Where in the world did you come up with such a hilarious story?
MF: That was on a particularly frazzled night. I crept into the bathroom and wrote it all down in one sitting. Maybe I shouldn’t have had that extra glass of wine before bed. Or maybe I should drink MORE? Who knows? But Gran and Pa have great boy appeal, so that’s a good thing. And it gave me the opportunity to find real honest-to-goodness rattlesnake recipes on the internet. Some of them are in “Gran’s Kitchen” page:

DMc: Beyond writing you offer a critique service. Please share with us what a writer should/would expect from your service.

MF: My Manuscript Critique Service, + lots of other help for new writers, can be found in the Website Directory on my home page: I offer personal guidance. This involves many comments, suggestions, and written examples where necessary.

I like to read a manuscript first, before I quote a set fee, because my fee depends on how much help a manuscript needs. This is something the client and I chat back-and-forth about, until we are both happy about what I propose + my fee. Clients can contact me any time during the process with questions.

Critique Details are listed under the heading of Picture Books + MG and YA Manuscripts.

There is a helpful “What to Aim For When Writing,” article at the beginning of the page, and links to other writing help and advice. At the end of the page are payment and other instructions, plus Testimonials. Writers wanting to craft tighter stories could also read my “Musings” Column in the Purple Crayon, and on my website, “The Secrets of Writing for Children,”

Nothing makes my day more than hearing that one of my clients had their book published. A big “YEA!” moment indeed!!

DMc: A signature request I like to ask every author, illustrator, editor, etc., I interview is for the individual to share with us a tidbit form their lives that the reader will find either humorous or surprising. Margot, can you please share one with us?
MF: Oh dear, I can hear the skeletons in my closet rattling in anguish!! Hmmm. . .

Here goes: When I moved here some years ago, I discovered there was Aussie English, and then there American English. As a teacher’s aide, in an upper midgrade class, I once asked if anyone could lend me a “rubber.” In Australia, an eraser is called a rubber. My teacher friends (and a few knowing students), never let me forget that one.

Naked and blushing, I want to thank you for doing this really fun interview, Donna. I appreciate the chance to bring “Ruthie” into the limelight.

“Ruthie” is now available through Amazon (no cover yet):

And through GAP too:

POWELS, the great Pacific Northwest bookstore, now also has “Ruthie” up online + cover:


  1. Great interview! Thanks for sharing. Learned some new things about Margot!

    Margot's books are on my ever growing TBR book list!

  2. Thanks for the great interview, Donna and Margot. That's one funny cover, Margot. :-)

    The book is hilarious!

  3. Margot, what fun it is to learn about your journey as a writer (and while learning American English, too!) -Nancy

  4. Thanks for the interview,Donna!
    And thanks Margot for sharing the LOL story of how 'Rattlesnake Jam' came to be written!:D
    I would love to review 'Ruthie'!

  5. Dearest Donna,

    I laughed so hard after reading this awesome interview! Thanks for helping me start my day with a happy grin. Huge congrats,to Margot. Margot I know how you feel , I remember when I first came to America saying things that gave my teacher and classmates a good hearty laugh. Thank you for sharing your journey to publication, you have inspired me in a profound way.
    Nicole Weaver

  6. Took a break from working to read your interview. Thanks for the laughs, Margot! I was picturing you huddled in the bathroom with your paper and pencil. I keep mine by the bed with a flashlight.

    Wonderful interview, ladies!

  7. Margot is just the best, great interview. I so love getting to know more about her, her books and her writing career. I am glad to have met her through the Childrens' Writing Coaching Club because she has opened my eyes to writing verse. Thanks for sharing.

  8. Margot, you are a treasure of children's writing information, and your articles on writing are the best.

    Ruthie sounds wonderful and funny.

    I too seem to aim at boys, primarily, and they do seem to be more difficult readers.

    Donna, a great interview.

  9. What fun! Thanks ladies. I love Margot and her rhyming stories. There is nothing better than good rhyme!

    I highly recommend Margot critiquing service. She has taught me soooo much. Thanks, mate.

  10. Wow, all you ladies have written such nice things about Ruthie and me.

    Thanks a bunch, mates. Each of your comments gave me great pleasure.
    Today my feet won't touch the ground!

    Thanks Donna - you did me proud.

    Books for Kids - Manuscript Crits.

  11. Terrific interview. So fun and I found out a lot about Margot! Thanks Diane and thanks Margot. The book looks great! K.C. is so talented.

  12. Super interview, Donna. And let me tell you, when you order books from Margot you get the best, plus extras sometimes. She went all out with cards in addition to the books I ordered for my grandkids for Christmas.

    Interesting to read more about you, Margot.

  13. Thank you one and all for stopping by today and visiting with Margot. She certainly is a hoot!

    Margot, it was an honor hosting you today.

    Best wishes to all,

  14. Margot is a fun and funny writer. Lots of kids will love her books.

  15. What a great interview! Loved the opportunity to get to know Margot a bit better. Sounds like another great book to add to my bookshelves!

    Nancy, from Realms of Thought…

  16. Margot, I had to laugh about the 'rubber' story. When I was in Spain, I met a young Australian woman who told me the following:

    She'd been touring Rome with a group of students from the Catholic Seminary there. At the end of a long afternoon, they all sank gratefully into chairs at a sidewalk cafe, and my friend announced,
    "Golly, I'm knocked up."

    I still smile every time I think about it.

  17. Margot, I only with I could hear you talk, instead of read what you have to say. I bet you have an accent that is enchanting as you are! Thanks so much Donna, for highlighting this delightful author!


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