Meet Featured Author Marsha K. Nowakowski!
Join us for a Meet the Author Story Time on Saturday, May 12 at 1:00pm.
1. Can you tell us a little bit about yourself?
I am a wife, a dedicated mother to three children, and a “grammie” to my grandchildren.
I have spent forty years in the healthcare industry, primarily as a cardiac nurse. My inspiration for writing Matt and Mattie’s Adventures developed from her own observations that patients who recovered more quickly exhibited healthy habits and good attitudes toward life.
As a mother and grammie, I recognized the need for books teaching healthy habits to help young ones develop into successful people who always do their best. Matt and Mattie’s Adventures makes everyday habits fun, balanced, and adventuresome for toddlers.
My own adventures include travel, horseback riding, and reading. I also enjoy golf, baseball games, and sailing with my husband. Every day is an adventure!
2. What do you do when you are not writing?
I have not given up my full time career as a cardiac nurse at Emory University Hospital. I love my Nursing career, coworkers, patients and Emory University Hospital but as I approach age 65, I am looking forward to retirement. My husband and I love to travel and visit our children and grandchildren in Philadelphia and Denver. With a large extended family, we all like to travel the world and do so often together making our adventures of culture and history fun and exciting.
My husband and I look forward to our next adventure in the life of retirement. We are excited to be building a retirement cottage in our own little slice of heaven which happens to be in Montana near Glacier National Park. I really am a country girl at heart who loves the outdoors, animals, and, in particular, horses. I’ve owned and trained several horses, but currently enjoy trail riding with my friends. Because my husband and I have resided in the beautiful state of Georgia for the last 34 years, living in a golf course community with tennis, I have taken part in our country club living over the last 30 years but look forward to a slower, more serene pace of living in Montana, which I often refer to as the last best place on earth!
3. When did you first realize you wanted to be a writer?
Although always a creative child with a vivid imagination, I found myself throughout my nursing career creating projects, flyers, and support information for our patients and staff. After becoming a grandmother, nearing retirement, and taking care of other’s hearts for 35+ years, I decided to follow my own heart. I envisioned doing something that would make a difference and contribute positively to our world. Teaching health and wellness most of my life, it made sense then to follow what I knew best. So my journey to creating the Matt and Mattie’s Adventures series and Toddler Tootsies Take on the Day! started approximately 3 years ago. My belief is that our future lies in creating healthy children with good attitudes to create a healthy world. In reality, the message of diversity, positive attitudes in learning hard lessons and developing habits through good choices can apply to everyone, not just toddlers. My healthcare background provided me the vision that good attitudes will lead to healthy, lifelong habits, thus helping young ones learn confidence and independence.
4. Do you have an upcoming book? If so, can you tell us a little bit about it?
Since my book Toddler Tootsies Take on the Day! just came out in January, I find myself immersed in social media, readings, and book tours. I have many ideas for future books promoting healthy choices that will always cover ten toddler tips about learning life’s adventures. The next book I am working on is called Matt, Mattie, and Murdock the Horse. Because of my own love of horses, I would like to write ten safety tips for toddlers visiting a barn and seeing big horses for the first time. Murdock will be a sad, lonely soul looking for his lost barn when Matt and Mattie come upon him. They become fast friends, find Murdock’s home and soon Murdock is the comic relief in teaching them about safety tips in the barn.
5. Is anything in your book based on real life experiences or purely all imagination?
The educational portion of Toddler Tootsies Take on the Day! is based on facts and observations as a Mom, Grandma, and Nurse. The characters of Matt and Mattie are cute, unique, creative feet characters who represent ten activities of daily living symbolic to ten toes. Just as our toes help our bodies balance, learning the ten life skills will help your child create balance in their own life. Toddlers will learn independence and confidence in a fun, interactive way.
6. What was your favorite part to write and why?
My favorite part of Toddler Tootsies Take on the Day! occurs on the very first page which starts with the toddler’s morning and introduces the idea of having a good attitude each day. I was inspired by my experience as a cardiac nurse and mother, knowing that a positive attitude is key to leading a healthy, productive life. Quality choices define the outcome of our health. Having a good attitude and always doing your best by putting your best foot forward is not a one-time choice made in the moment. It’s a behavior cultivated over many attempts, many days in those formative years through healthy habits. Toddlers have a lot of learning to do and I wanted to write a book of encouragement that makes all the difficult lessons seem easier with rhymes and fun activities. I impress upon young readers important life skills, such as eating nourishing meals and brushing your teeth, through endearing characters, enjoyable illustrations, and easily understood lines. All pages in the book introduce toddlers to routines that could be considered difficult and instead become fun-filled learning activities.
7. Who is an author that has inspired you or influenced you growing up?
As a young child I enjoyed all the fantasy and enchantment found in Christmas books, but as I became a teenager I enjoyed solving the mysteries found in the Nancy Drew series.
8. Do you have any advice to give to aspiring writers?
“If there’s a book that you want to read, but it hasn’t been written yet, then you must write it.” -Toni Morrison
Writing requires a lot of creativity, time, and energy. Even though Matt and Mattie are friends in the book, my husband and I call them “our twins.” They are with us always!
Life is short, so follow your dreams. For me, I waited until my own children were grown and my primary career is now coming into retirement years. Your dreams can come true but it will require patience, rewrites, reworks, and a good publishing team. The title of my book was the single most difficult decision for me. Trying to capture everything your book represents in a creative way can be long and the most thought provoking exercise.
It is exhilarating to create something you believe will make a difference to others while also providing joy. In this case Toddler Tootsies provide a difference in how we look at health, happiness, and choices while giving the joy of learning through reading and interacting with the characters.
As a writer you are vulnerable to criticism and rejections, so you should never give up and develop a thick skin. Remember as Toni Morrison so eloquently stated: write your own story and if has not been written yet, then you must write it!
9. Is there anything that you would like to say to your readers?
I think two things set Toddler Tootsies Take On The Day! apart from other children’s books: The book is about them, the toddler. They recognize each of the ten activities of daily living because this is their day, every day. The book is about them! They can relate to the characters Matt and Mattie, seeing themselves in the book while having fun with some of the choices offered. It becomes an unconscious, fun learning experience for toddlers to learn life skills that follow along with quotes from long ago. Ben Franklin said: “It is easier to prevent bad habits than to break them.” Or from Aristotle: “Excellence is not an act but a habit.” Matt and Mattie help toddlers learn independence and confidence within their own daily activities.
I look forward to meeting you May 12th at The Story Shop!