Tag Archives: 4RV Publishing

Shawn Simon, Author of Stepping into a New Role: Stories from Stepmoms

Stepping into a New Role: Stories from Stepmoms by Shawn Simon

“Shawn Simon, Author of Stepping into a New Role: Stories from Stepmoms” by Joan Y. Edwards

Today I  have the great pleasure of interviewing author, Shawn Simon.  Welcome, Shawn.

Thank you, Joan. It’s wonderful to be here with you. Congratulations to Sarah Maury Swan. She won a copy of my book by leaving a comment before midnight April 28, 2020.

That’s awesome. Thank you. We’ll put the details of the drawing after your interview. Everyone’s anxious to hear about you and your new book, “Stepping into a New Role: Stories from Stepmoms.” Let’s get started.

  1. Where were you born? Inglewood, CA (Yep, I’m an actual Southern California native. Lol

  2. Where was your favorite place to live as a child? I actually enjoyed living in our apartments in Santa Monica, CA. My brother and I played with all the kids who lived in apartments nearby. We like to say we grew up playing in the alleys behind the apartment buildings in Santa Monica.

  3. Did you have a favorite place to read a book as a child? Where and why? No particular favorite place, but I was definitely, and still am, a book worm. My dad and I were just saying the other day how this isolating time is probably much easier for avid readers. I have read so many books during these last few weeks.

  4. How do you keep yourself physically fit? I have three small dogs, so I walk them a few miles every day. I also take barre classes and I love Orange Theory, a newer cardio and strength training workout in our area.

  5. What do you do when you think about giving up? That’s a good question. What makes we want to give up is feeling over-whelmed. So, I try to chunk all I need to do into smaller sized pieces. If I break things down into manageable bites, so to speak, I can typically accomplish what I set out to do.

  6. Do you set goals for yourself as a writer? What helps you reach them? Do you reward yourself when you reach them? I do set goals for myself. I mark them in my calendar as my “to do list.” I also belong to three writing groups. We read to each other when we meet, so knowing I need to read a story keeps me accountable. I haven’t rewarded myself when I reach a goal, but I like that idea. I’ll have to think of a good reward.

  7. Do you consider yourself a risk taker? Why? In certain areas, yes. I think setting out to write a book, actually completing it, and then jumping through the hoops needed to get it published is all fairly risky. I’m proud of myself for reaching this milestone.

  8. If you go to an amusement park, which ride do you go to first? Which ride do you ignore at all costs? At my age, the only amusement park I like is Disneyland. I love the feel of Disney and the old rides, like Pirates of the Caribbean, the Haunted Mansion, It’s a Small World, etc. The rides I avoid are any that spin. Those make me sick every time.

  9. What is your favorite genre to write? Why? I love to write non-fiction inspirational stories. It started with writing my stories about my experiences as a stepmom, but when I met other stepmoms struggling with similar challenges, I thought, “Why not write their stories, too?” I enjoy talking with people and hearing their stories. It’s therapeutic and supportive. I think of my book as a stepmom support group in writing.

  10. What’s your favorite book? Why? Picking just one is hard. I suppose my favorite children’s book is Shiloh. I cry every time I read that one. A favorite classic is To Kill a Mockingbird. Three favorite newer books are The Fault in Our Stars, A Man Called Ove, and Don’t Let Me Go. I also love the Chicken Soup Series. I find the stories to be uplifting and inspirational. I liken my book to that series, except my stories are emotionally deeper. And they’ve never published one for stepmoms, so…

  11. When did you decide to become an author? I’ve always toyed with the idea of writing a book. But when I became a stepmom and shared my challenging experiences, I kept hearing, “You should write a book. Your stories are so inspirational.” I believe when you hear something several times, you need to listen. So, I listened.

  12. Please name Authors or Books that inspire you. As I said, the Chicken Soup books have inspired me. I also like reading memoirs, such as the heart-wrenching book, The Glass Castle.  My favorite fiction author is Catherine Ryan Hyde. I find her writing style to be refreshingly unique.

  13. Who or what has been the most help and inspiration to you as a writer? My husband has supported and encouraged me on this journey, believing in me every step of the way. My writer friends I’ve met have been an incredible source of positivity. All of my friends believed in me when I told them I planned to write a book. My pups are my muses when I write, snuggling in next to me, snoring lightly. Somehow that spurs my creativity.

  14. Stepping into a New Role, Stories from Stepmoms, your first book has been released by 4RV Publishing. Tell us the story behind your book. I foolishly thought being a stepmom would be easy because I work with kids. Kids love me. When I found myself single again at the age of thirty-eight, I figured I’d most likely meet someone with children. I never felt the need to have kids of my own, so I thought being a stepmom would be ideal. Did I mention it was a foolish thought? Step-mothering was not easy at all. Many factors never crossed my mind: the grief the kids felt due to their parents’ divorce, them not wanting another mother figure, me being further proof their parents would not be getting back together. None of those concerns entered my mind. When I looked for books to help, I found several self-help, academic type books, but I don’t care for books like that. I prefer stories from real people struggling with similar issues. I want to hear first-hand how they handled the challenges they encountered. I found no books with stepmom stories, so I decided to be the first to write one.

  15. How many places did you submit to before being successful? I think I queried around twenty-five agents and four publishers that do not require an agent.

  16. How long did it take to get it from submission to publication? That’s a good question. It took much longer than I expected. My contract tentative release date was February 2016. And here we are, four years later. However, I must say, I’m actually happy to have had the extra time. During these four years, I have joined many writing groups and have learned new writing techniques and styles, all of which have improved my writing. Because my book’s release was delayed so long, I was able to revise and edit several times before the publishing date. Had they not taken so long, I would not have been able to do so. My book is much better for having had the time.

  17. Tell us about the book cover.

Stepping into a New Role: Stories from Stepmoms by Shawn Simon

The book cover was designed by Aidana Willow-Raven from 4RV Publishing. I love that it is not academic looking, that it’s more fun and playful. To me this reflects the style of the book. The cover relates to the first story that launched the book.

  1. Links to purchase Stepping into a New Role, Stories from Stepmoms: The best price is from 4RV directly, but it is available on my website, Amazon, and Barnes & Noble, as well.

Purchase at:

  1. Shawn Simon’s website: StepmomShawn.com,

  2. Amazon https://www.amazon.com/Stepping-into-New-Role-Stepmoms/dp/1940310962/

  3. Barnes and Noble https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/stepping-into-a-new-role-shawn-simon/1136816236?ean=9781940310954

19. Are you writing other books? Tell us about them. I’ve already written a book for stepdads that needs to be edited and revised.  I’m also working on a second book for stepmoms. In addition, I’ve just started working on a book about people with differences. I was born with one arm, so I know what it’s like to feel odd and left out. From working with kids with learning differences, I realized their stories are similar to mine. This prompted me to include all kinds of differences in this book, which will be a similar style to my step-parenting books. It will include my stories as well as the stories from the people I interview. My goal is to shed light on people identified as different in the hopes of helping the world see we are more alike than we realize.

20. What has been the most exhilarating moment as a writer, so far? Seeing my book on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and on the 4RV site. Even better, holding my book in my hand. It’s quite an accomplishment to go from thinking about writing a book to actually completing it. And then having it published feels pretty darn good. 

  1. Do you outline and plan your plot first or let the characters develop their own plot as you write? Since I’m writing true stories about people’s experiences, the stories unfold from what they share. I record the interviews and then transcribe them to help with the process. Some people hand me gift-wrapped stories just in their telling. They are naturally gifted story tellers, which makes my writing process easier.

  2. How do you know your manuscript is ready for submission to an editor or agent? That’s tough to answer because as writers we never feel our manuscripts are ready to submit. But I’d say it is essential for the manuscript to be well edited before submitting, and I’d highly recommend the editing be done by someone other than the writer.

  3. Do you plan to self-publish or are you going the route of traditional publishing with an agent?  I’m not sure what my plans are for my next books. I did meet two agents at a writers’ conference who are interested in my differences book. I plan to follow up with both when I’m further along with the writing and when my book proposal is completed.

Shawn Simon, Author

About Shawn Simon

Shawn Simon, MA, is a Board Certified Educational Therapist who works with children. Therefore, when she met the man of her dreams, who just happened to come with a couple of kids, she thought being a stepmom would be a breeze. She was wrong. However, as someone born with only one arm, she’s learned to overcome obstacles. Thus, she knew she could face the challenges of step-mothering. Shawn is published in the Association of Educational Therapists’ Journal and is an award winning inspirational speaker in her field. She lives in Southern California with her husband, two step-kids, three rescue dogs, and one sixteen-year-old cat. Shawn is currently at work on more books for stepfamilies.

Website: https://www.stepmomshawn.com
Twitter @ShawnSimon44

Thank you for letting me interview you today, Shawn. Thank you to everyone who stopped by to talk with Shawn and me. 

Thank you to the 143 people who read this blog post. Three readers left a comment on Shawn Simon’s interview before midnight April 28, 2020:
1. Melanie Robertson-King
2. Sarah Maury Swan
3. Paulette Hannah

Random.org chose number 2, therefore, Congratulations, Sarah Maury Swan, you won a free copy of  Stepping into a New Role, Stories from Stepmoms! Hip Hip Hooray for all 3 commenters and those who read  Shawn’s interview.

Sarah, I will give Shawn your email address so she can get this book to you.

Be safe.
Stay well. 

Never Give Up
Joan Y. Edwards, Author
Copyright © 2020 Joan Y. Edwards

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Valuable Tips for Artists/Illustrators from Aidana WillowRaven

Aidana WillowRaven

Aidana WillowRaven, Cover Artist/Illustrator/Graphic Designer

“Valuable Tips for Artists/Illustrators from Aidana WillowRaven” by Joan Y. Edwards
Thank you, Aidana for doing the cover for Joan’s Elder Care Guide published by 4RV Publishing on April 15, 2016, for sharing it on your website, blog, and social media. I am honored that you agreed to let me interview you for my blog.

You’re welcome, Joan. I’m looking forward to it.
Let’s get started.

  1. Where were you born? Harlingen, Texas, USA
  2. Where was your favorite place to live as a child? Why? That one is really hard to say because everywhere I lived had it’s own influence on me as a person and eventual artist.
  3. Did you have a favorite place to draw as a child? Where and why? I rarely drew as a child. I wasn’t good at it so usually quit in frustration. 
  4. Where is your favorite place to draw now? My favorite places change depending on my mood, but it’s also a convenience issue.
  5. How do you keep yourself physically fit? Me? Fit? I love your sense of humor.
  6. What do you do when you think about giving up? I don’t. I have a big stubborn streak, lol.
  7. If you go to an amusement park, which ride do you go to first? Which ride do you ignore at all costs? Rollercoaster!!! I like water rides, too. Anything fast is fun, but I even enjoy monorails and slower activities.
  8. Would you share 3 covers that you designed? It’s hard to pick a favorite, especially since I work with so many genres, but here are three more recent favorites for three different genres: Weaver of Dreams, A Family for Leona, and Honourable Lies. Your covers are amazing.
    Weaver of Dreams Cover
    by Aidana WillowRaven


    A Family for Leona, cover by Aidana Willow-Raven.
Honourable Lies Cover by Aidana WillowRaven

9.What is your favorite novel? Why? Again, with the impossible questions, lol. I’m going to have to go with a favorite series rather than a single book. I think I’ve reread the entire Wheel of Time series, by Robert Jordan, more than any of my other books in my library.

10.What is your favorite picture book? That’s easy … Alice in Wonderland

11. Do you set goals for yourself as an artist/illustrator? Do you reward yourself when you reach them?  Goal? Yes. Rewards? Who has time? I just keep going. lol

12. What are three craft books about drawing and illustrating that you recommend for study by other artists/illustrators? That really depends on what genre and style one’s goal is as an artist. For me, I study anything Michael Whelan does. I also study the works of Todd Lockwood and Frank Frazetta and too many others to list. I don’t want to limit anyone to any three books, though. I study all I can from many genres and styles. I even take pictures of book covers I like at the grocery store to study later, lol.

13. Where is your favorite place to visit? Why? Downtown Memphis. There is such a vibe that I’ve never felt anywhere else I’ve lived or visited. That same vibe is probably why there are so many songs written about it, too. But even the swamps in Memphis have a wonderful mystique.

14. Did they have art courses when you were in High School? We had one art class a week, which I all but failed. The art teacher told me, in front of the entire class, that I had no talent and apparently art was not my ‘thing’, lol. In my art teacher’s defense, my Mom said pretty much the same thing, and even my best friends in high school, reuniting with me decades later via Facebook, were all like, “Sooo… Where did this art thing come from?” As a result, I don’t believe in abstract terms like ‘talent’. I believe in drive, determination, training, and skill, which anyone can acquire when the first three are part of the recipe. I like that you believe in drive, determination, training, and skill rather than being born with the talent. I admire you and your determination to be an artist.

15. When did you decide to become an illustrator? Why? After my second failed marriage, I was really into epic fantasy books and found myself fascinated with the cover art. I started recreating book covers with visuals I felt better portrayed the stories. Next thing you know, I was standing at a college registrar’s office wondering what major to study, and the only thing I could think of was wanting to create book cover art. Floored EVERYONE who knew me that I chose to study fine art.

16., Who or what has been the most help and inspiration to you as an illustrator? Michael Whelan

17. Where do you get your ideas for your illustrations? The books, music, movies, everything … lol.

18.What are you illustrating now? I keep several projects going at once, so that’s hard to answer.

19. What has been your most exhilarating moment as an artist/illustrator? When Michael Whelan, my idol, actually responded to one of my tweets, lol. I know that made your day.

20. Does research help your illustrations? How? Absolutely. I like to be as accurate as possible. One time, I even found a discrepancy within the text that contradicted the period and culture. The author and publisher made the necessary correction to the text. 😀 They were lucky to have you working on this project for them.

21. What are your top ten tips for illustrators? Study, Study, Study, Draw, Draw, Draw, Paint, Paint, Paint … repeat 😀 

22. What are three marketing tips for illustrators? Get used to talking about your work on social media. Also, never give up. Keep looking until you find your place.

Connect with Aidana through links on her website:  http://willowraven.weebly.com  

Aidana WillowRaven, tradigital artist (hybrid artist who combines traditional training and techniques with digital tools and applications) and mother of three, trained in Fine Art, Studio Design, and Animation at NSU and ODU. WillowRaven works with traditional publishers, as well as, independent authors. In addition to her freelance business, she’s Art Director and VP of Operations at 4RV Publishing.
Working in most genres, from picture books to novels, she has illustrated and/or designed over 500 books and ebooks since 2007 through her company, WillowRaven Illustration & Design Plus, in Memphis, Tennessee.
Thank you again, Aidana, for letting me interview you for my blog. You are amazing!

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Never Give Up
Joan Y. Edwards, Author
Copyright © 2016 Joan Y. Edwards
Flip Flap Floodle Will this little duck’s song save him from Mr. Fox?
Joan’s Elder Care Guide A guide to help caregivers and elders find solutions.