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Saturday, November 29, 2014

A Year in the Secret Garden Book Author Interview

A Year in the Secret Garden - Blog Tour Button. Enter to win $100 Amazon GC. Ends 12/7.
Have you entered the $100 Amazon gift card giveaway yet associated with the A Year in the Secret Garden book? That giveaway is running through December 7th. Here, we have an interview with author Valarie Budayr.
Valarie Budayr
Please tell us a little bit about yourself and how you got started writing.

I'm originally from Portland, Oregon where I think writing is in the water. My background is in Music and I was a professor of music for 15 years in various places on the globe. After my third child was born I retired my music career and have enjoyed raising my children. I've always loved books. In 2002 I started a Mother/Daughter book club where I would bring our selected reading choice to life. This transitioned into starting a blog called Jump into a Book where I create or link to extending activities which relate to a specific book title. My writing career started by blogging. I had a "mommy" blog called A Place Like This. In 2010 a family of foxes moved into my front yard. Everyday I would photograph them and observe how the mother was raising her young family. Every Thursday I'd post about our fox family to update our readers. 10,000 people from all over the world would show up on Fox Dairy Thursdays. Soon they started asking if this would be a book and that's when my writing career began in earnest.

What other books have you published?

As an author I've published "The Fox Diaries: The Year the Foxes Came to Our Garden", and "The Ultimate Guide to Charlie and the Chocolate Factory". As a publisher, I've published "The Waldorf Homeschool Handbook" by Donna Ashton.

Do you write full time? If not, what is your primary occupation? If so, how hard was it to get to the point where you could write full-time?

My life is writing and books in one capacity or another. I write every single day. It depends what day I'm on as to what I'm writing. Certain days I write blog posts, other days I'm writing my next book project, and then I write freelance articles as well and have specific days I work on those. I wear several different hats. I'm a publisher, a writer, and a reader. My full time literary life just evolved little by little into a full time job.

Where did the premise for the Secret Gardens book come from?

The illustrator on A Year in the Secret Garden is the very talented Marilyn Scott-Waters. We had wanted to do a project together for a very long time but could never really narrow down anything. One day we were just having one of our usual fun Skype sessions when we discovered that the Secret Garden was both our favorite book as children. Immediately upon that discovery we started talking about an activity guide to go along with this classic tale.

How long did the Secret Gardens book take to write and do you have any writing rituals to keep you on tract while writing?

The actual writing of the book took about 3 or 4 months with the re-writes and edits. I have different writing rituals for each book. For this book I wrote it month by month. Before I would start writing, I'd make a list of what I'd be writing about that day and then I'd list all of my favorite things about that specific month. I'd then make Mary, Collins, and Dickons list of favorite things about that specific month. The "favorites lists" became a bridge between my life and the characters lives.
I see you're involved with Multicultural Children's Book Day. How did you get started there? What's this winter's event looking like compared to last year?

I'm one of the co-founders of this event along with Mia Wengen from Pragmatic Mom. We created this book holiday based on a reaction we had to an article written by Jason Lee of Lee and Low books. We discovered that 37% of the United States is of a multi-cultural diverse nature but only 3% of the books being published reflect that. Mia and I decided that we wanted to celebrate those 3% of the books being published. Both Mia and I are and live in multicultural families.
This winter's event is much bigger than last years. In our second year we currently have 110+ bloggers who will be reviewing books, 10 co-hosts, and 11 sponsors. We also are collaborating with The Children's Book Council and raising money with First Books to put multicultural titles into inner city schools. All are welcome to join us on January 27th 2015. To find out how you can participate you can visit our website

Have you ever thought about releasing The Ultimate Guide to Charlie and the Chocolate Factory as a dead tree book or even for Android tablets? And why or why not?

We hope to have a print version of The Ultimate Guide to Charlie and the Chocolate Factory out in 2015. The e-version of this book is formatted and distributed by Kite Readers. They do not have plans at this time to release for Android tablets.

What book is next on your horizon to write?

There are several books in the works for 2015. "Into the Egypt Game: A Year in Ancient Egypt." It's an activity/travel guide into Ancient Egypt. I wrote this for my inner 10 year old. It's the book I would have wanted at that age. Another book coming out is "Dragons are Real". We have a very talented and special illustrator on this book in the way of Michael Welply. Marilyn Scott-Water, the illustrator on A Year in the Secret Garden, and I are working on a Wizard of Oz guide and then in October I have a Norse Activity Guide book coming out. There is lots going on but it's all very inspiring and fun.

Do you have any favorite authors to read? How much has their influence affected your writing?

I don't have any exclusive favorites but two stand out in my mind. The first being Roald Dahl, and the second being J.R.R. Tolkien. I've greatly related to both of their writings and I think both have influenced my writing in some way.

Any parting thoughts you'd like to share?

John thank you so much for inviting me to spend some time here on your blog. I'm greatly honored. Wishing all of you many happy reading moments.

*Read my Disclosure


  1. Thank you so much for hosting Valarie as part of the "A Year in a Secret Garden" Blog Tour, John. It's fascinating to hear how Valarie's life slowly morphed over time to be a publisher and writer. It's funny how these things happen. I'm very excited by her upcoming projects - the Egypt project in particular! Can't wait!