Wednesday, January 20, 2021

Meet Debut Children's Author Leigh Ann Gerk on I Read Book Tours


Carpinello's Writing Pages is pleased to participate in Leigh Ann Gerk's I Read Book Tour. Leigh Ann is a Colorado (my home state) author promoting her debut non-fiction story. Tour stops are listed further down. Don't forget to enter the Giveaway!

First, here's a bit about Leigh Ann:
Leigh Ann Gerk MA, LPC has been in the counseling field for over eleven years. She is certified in Pet Loss & Grief Companioning and the founder and owner of Mourning to Light Pet Loss providing individual and family counseling for anyone grieving the loss of a pet. She currently offers 3 free pet loss support groups in Northern Colorado and is excited to branch out and offer more. Having grown up on a farm, Leigh Ann's childhood playmates included baby calves, horses, bunnies, dogs, and 32 cats that set up house in a boxcar that also served as her playhouse. This upbringing introduced her, at a very young age, to the human-animal bond and instilled in her a deep understanding of, and love for, this extraordinary relationship. Leigh Ann and her husband, Andy, live in Loveland, Colorado, and are the proud parents of identical twin daughters, Heather and Heidi. Their family is made complete by their first grandchild and their cherished therapy dog, Gracie.

Why did you pick to write books for Children?
I chose to write books for children because I love the simplicity, innocence, and gentleness that often accompanies them.  I also appreciate beautiful illustrations that complement a story. I have always had a lovely rapport with children, and I relate really well with them. I’m often told that I’m a “kid at heart” and I think that, in and of itself, has led me in this direction.  

What types of books do you like to read, and what do you do when you are not writing?

I love to read mysteries and autobiographies.  I particularly love an autobiography that shares the journey of someone who has had a difficult start in life, but through determination, hard work, and perseverance, accomplishes more than they ever dreamed possible. I am founder and owner of “Mourning to Light Pet Loss,” where I counsel grieving pet families as a licensed professional counselor. I facilitate 3 free pet loss support groups in northern Colorado.  

Tell us about Dear Brave Friend and how the story came to be.

My book, Dear Brave Friend, began long ago when I was just a little girl growing up on a farm. I have wanted to write a children’s book ever since I started playing “teacher” as a young girl. I knew my life on the farm with all the wonderful animals who became my best friends would one day be in my story; I just didn’t know how. After I started counseling grieving pet families, the “how” magically appeared.  I worked with children who didn’t understand what they were feeling. I worked with parents who were afraid and hesitant to talk with their children about really difficult subjects like pet loss, death, dying, and sadness.  From working with these grieving pet families, I realized I needed to write a book that would help children and parents maneuver through the difficult journey of pet loss, which is often a child’s first significant loss and an important time for parents to teach and role model healthy grieving. My childhood memories and feelings helped guide me to write a book that children could easily relate to and understand. A parent myself, I understood how to create windows of opportunity within the story to promote meaningful conversations between children and their parents.

Here's a peek at Dear Brave Friend:

This gentle and heartwarming story captures the love between a boy and his dog, and the sadness that follows after his cherished dog passes away. Written in the form of a letter from the dog to the boy, the letter shares relatable, real life examples of how the boy (and therefore anybody who has lost a dear pet) may be feeling and suggestions on what he can do to help himself get through this most difficult time. The letter also touches on simple acts of kindness that can follow the reader throughout his or her lifetime. The message in this story is applicable to young and old, girl or boy, and to any family pet that has stolen your heart. Story starters, drawing pages, and a place to add pictures of your own beloved pet are also included in the back of the book.

How do you go about researching for your stories?

I combined my childhood memories and experiences with my counseling skills and training to create a story that was not only easy for children to understand and relate to, but also educational.

What’s next for your writing? Are you working on a new story?

Yes, I am developing two books that I plan to start writing within the next few months. Both are on pet loss and I can’t wait to get started!

What advice do you have for other authors?

My advice to other authors is to keep on going even when you feel discouraged or feel like giving up. There will be many bumps along the way to writing and publishing your book, but the reward of completing a book that contains your heart and soul, your words, your thoughts, and your dedication is worth every single bump. The feeling you get when you physically see your book for the very first time, feel the cover, smell the newness, and see your name on the front – is a very gratifying feeling. And to think people will want to purchase a book that contains so much of who you are is very humbling. For me, knowing that Dear Brave Friend can help grieving pet families brings me a huge sense of satisfaction and peace, and makes me forget I had any bumps at all.

Anything else you want readers to know?

Yes, thank you for asking! I would like to share with readers that Dear Brave Friend won an International Book Award last year through the Next Generation Indie Book Awards. The INDIE Book Awards is the largest international awards program for independent authors and publishers.  I was so honored that Dear Brave Friend won in the category of Children’s/Juvenile (Non-Fiction) and placed as a finalist in the Animals/Pets category.  Receiving this amazing award has given me a wonderful opportunity to reach out and help more grieving pet families, which is where my passion lies.

Where can readers find you and your books?

Find more information about me, Dear Brave Friend, and pet loss:
Dear Brave Friend is available for purchase on Amazon.

Tour Schedule:

Jan 18 – Nighttime Reading Center – book review / giveaway
Jan 19 – Book World Reviews – book review / author interview
Jan 19 - Laura's Interests – book review / guest post / giveaway
Jan 20 – Cover Lover Book Review – book review / giveaway
Jan 20 - Carpinello's Writing Pages - book spotlight / author interview / giveaway
Jan 21 – Rockin' Book Reviews – book review / guest post/ giveaway
Jan 22 – Locks, Hooks and Books – book review / giveaway
Jan 25 – I'd Rather Be At The Beach – book review / giveaway
Jan 26 – Book Corner News and Reviews – book spotlight / giveaway
Jan 26 - The Momma Spot - book review
Jan 27 – Reading is My Passion – book review
Jan 27  - Reading Authors Networkbook review / giveaway
Jan 28 – Bound 4 Escape – book review / giveaway
Jan 29 – Jazzy Book Reviews – book review / guest post / giveaway
Feb 1 –Books, Tea, Healthy Me – book spotlight / author interview / giveaway
Feb 1 - Welcome To MLM Opinion’s Reviews  - book review
Feb 2 – Splashes of Joy – book review / guest post / giveaway
Feb 2 - Library of Clean Reads – book review / giveaway
Feb 2 - Lisa's Reading – book review / giveaway
Feb 3 – Adventures of a Traveler’s Wife – book review / author interview / giveaway
Feb 3 - Pick a Good Book - book review / author interview / giveaway
Feb 4 – Pawesome Wisdom – book spotlight / giveaway
Feb 4 - I'm Into Books – book review / giveaway
Feb 4 - Deborah-Zenha Adams - book spotlight / guest post / giveaway
Feb 5 – Stephanie Jane – book spotlight / giveaway
Feb 5 - The Pen and Muse Book Reviews  - book review / giveaway
Feb 5 - Because I said so and other adventures in Parentingbook review / giveaway

Rafflecopter Giveaway:
$25 Amazon Gift Card courtesy of the author of DEAR BRAVE FRIEND (1 winner) (open to customers) (ends Feb 12)


a Rafflecopter giveaway