Hi Everyone! Today we start our Author Interviews. I have been looking forward to these. I have several great interviews lined up to come at you over the next few weeks. Let’s all show some support to our author community. Let’s get it started with Ms. Tammi Van Hollander.
NAME: Tammi Van Hollander, LCSW, RPT
PUBLISHED TITLES: Casey’s Greatness Wings: Teaching Mindfulness, Connection and Courage to Children.
Q: Where are you from (City, State)?
A: A suburb of Philadelphia, PA
Q: How long have you been writing?
A:. I finished this book pretty quickly. Although it felt like a long time, it was about 6 months of perfecting the story, illustrations and formatting.
Q: What were your goals prior to writing? How did you becoming an author happen?
A: I always loved writing and wrote poetry in High School. My dream was to be an author and started a book for a large company, but life got in the way and I never follow through with it. The “Back” story of this book has not been told until now. My mother passed away 6 years ago and she told us that we would always be connected by rainbows and butterflies. As a child therapist, I was in session with a tween client who had experienced significant trauma. As a way to help her express her feelings , we colored mandalas. A mandala represents wholeness and it is often a symbol that is utilized to help people focus in on meditation and achieve a sense of oneness. Mandalas can be colored, made, or they are created in the sand tray On this particular day, my client and I both created separate mandalas and it happened to be the year anniversary of my mother’s death. I picked a butterfly mandala to color. We spent time listening to relaxing music, to help quiet the mind and nervous system as we colored and then on the back was a free write for a story to come out of it. I do not often do my own story with the client, but this client always wanted me to do the same activity as her. So, I did, and I began to write and write and write. The Brave Butterfly came to life and I wanted it to be a metaphor of her trauma and how telling her story could free her. After reading the story to her, she took over and began to make parts of it her own. This was a breakthrough in her healing process.
Fast forward 5 years later……In October I took a 5 day intensive training in FirstPlay Infant Massage Storytelling® http://www.mainlineplaytherapy.com/firstplay-r and Kinesthetic Storytelling®. I fell in love with this technique and was inspired to write a kinesthetic story. This is a story that is told on the child’s back. Reading to children is so important and the added element of touch enhances the bonding experience. Dr. Janet Courtney, my mentor helped me with the book process and really inspired me to get the ball rolling. I was connected to The Brave Butterfly, the idea of transformation and mindfulness. I am also a certified trainer in The Nurtured Heart Approach ® which transformed my practice and I really wanted to use the idea of greatness to empower others. Although the story started as a trauma story, I wanted to shift it to a mindful, empowerment story and go deeper to give parents, teachers , clinicians and others tools to ignite greatness, help kids understand their worries, and ways to quiet their busy minds. Casey’s Greatness Wings is for all ages and for everyone. I have had couples do it on each other, siblings, etc. The family can tell the story in a circle doing the story massage on each other’s backs.
Q: What genre(s) do you write? Why?
A: My passion is to inspire children, families and professionals working with children. I love my work and want to spread it with others. I am a national presenter and I am passionate and knowledgeable about my work.
Q: Did/do you self publish or traditionally publish? What was attractive about this option?
A: I self published. I knew I had a following and various ways to promote it independently.
Q: Are you a full-time author? If not, do aspire to be?
A: No, I hope to write more books , but my heart is providing play therapy to my clients in my playroom and presenting workshops to others on my work. I definitley, want to do more work in schools with my book. I am receiving such a nice response from professionals working in the schools using Casey’s Greatness Wings and the activities provided with their students. I have a special section in the back of the book for professionals. There are activities to do with the child or classroom with a list of greatness words.
Q: How many books have you published?
A:. I have published chapters and creative play-based interventions, but this is my first independent book.
Q: What is one thing you wish you had done differently during the process of publishing your first book?
A: So many things……. The big one was that the size of my book made it very hard to publish and I had to change from CS a IS. This was very stressful as I did not know if my book was going to be published. If you were to ask me what was the hardest thing about my book…….the answer would be that there is so much information in it. It is a psycho-educational book, a children’s book, a guide on how to do stories on a child’s back and an activity book. That is a lot of info in one book.
Q: Who are some of your favorite authors?
A: My favorite children’s author is Todd Parr. I love his books. I have a wonderful therapeutic library of children’s books. So many great books that aid in healing children, by offering that safe psychological distance from their problems.
Q: To expand on that, what is your favorite genre to read? I want to be a better reader and make more time to read.
A: Most of my books are psycho-educational and children’s books.
Q: What book or books have influenced you as an author?
A: Too many to list. I think it is really my passion for my work that inspires me and the children that touch my heart every day.
Q: What is your writing process?(time spent writing, planning, performance goals)
A: My writing process was so challenging because I had hand movements integrated into the story. The story was long and there needed to be many edits. I eventually made the story into two parts, so it could be divided up to read to children of all ages.
Q: Do you write each day?
Q: How do you set your writing mood? Is there a routine you follow?
A: No, I wish I had a routine and I highly recommend you having a schedule. Lesson learned for next time.
Q: How long on average does it take you to write a book?
A: From the time I committed to really writing this book, I put my heart and soul into it and it took about 6 months.
Q: Do you prefer paperback, hard cover, or eBooks (reading and writing)? Why?
A: I like to have a book in my hand and never read e-books. I think this is because I read so much to children and we need a physical book.
Q: Who would your dream co-author be? Why?
A: Someone like Dr. Dan Siegel who I admire. I am a huge fan of his work and he has made a massive contribution to the field of parenting, therapy and mindfulness. His work on the brain and helping children to understand how their brains works is brilliant. I am a fan of all of his books.
Q: What will be your next book release?
A: Probably a book on all of my greatness interventions for children to compliment my first book. I also plan for the other characters in my story to have their own leading role. Next, may be the worry elephant, but no spoiler alerts just yet.:)
Q: What are some of your goals outside of writing?
A: Now that I have written my book, my other dream is to one day do a TED Talk. I am heading to India with my daughter this summer and would like to travel more and to continue volunteer service projects in the future. I also have been wanting to do more crisis management work.
Q: What is your biggest obstacle when writing?
A: Organization and time management
Q: Do you have any advice for new authors?
A: It is a lot of work and get as many people to read your book as you can. My clients were so helpful with the hand movements and they were a big contribution to my book. Get some good people in place from your illustrator to your formatter. The process can be frustrating and exhausting and I wanted to quit many times. I figured if my book can help one child or family then I am happy.
Check out Casey’s Greatness Wings on Amazon today https://www.amazon.com/Caseys-Greatness-Wings-Mindfulness-Connection/dp/1643167782/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1529500009&sr=8-1&keywords=casey%27s+greatness+wings&dpID=51iw73XoGzL&preST=_SX218_BO1,204,203,200_QL40_&dpSrc=srch and show Miss Tammi some love. You can also visit Tammi’s website at http://www.mainlineplaytherapy.com/children-s-book. She has a good story here, with a good message.
Check out our next Author Interview when we talk to Kerry Orchard, author of The Adventures in Behaviour Series – How to Tame Dragons and Hush Hyenas.