Benjamin Birdie wants to fly like all the other birds, like he was meant to! But his mama tells him he isn’t quite ready yet. Benjamin doesn’t listen, and tries to give flying a go but falls all the way down from the top of the tree to the forest floor. Now Benjamin Birdie must ask for help from all of the other tree-dwellers to get back to the top of the tree. Charming rhymes and colorful illustrations bring this story about friendship to life and teach the importance of coming together to help someone in need. Children will learn about different exotic animals, what makes each of them special and how each of their unique qualities help get Benjamin back home to his nest!
Hello book lovers! Today is a day where I will be writing another author spotlight for a well-accomplished author whose work I have loved. As you know book lovers I love learning about authors and the inspiration behind their work, it fascinates me and adds to the depth of the book because the reader will be able to better understand it. That is how the author spotlights were created because I soon discovered that you lovely readers ALSO love learning about author’s, so I am excited to tell you a little bit more about author Michael Dotsikas whose book Benjamin Birdies First Flight charmed me and my children from beginning to end. I personally would recommend this book to all of those that love adorable children stories with adventure and poignancy but really the book can be read by anybody as it is flawlessly written and highly enjoyable. With today’s author spotlight for Michael, a biography of the author and an interview between me and Michael will be shared, and I hope that you book lovers enjoy reading it! To kick this off here is an author bio about the wonderful Michael!
Michael Dotsikas is the creator of Benjamin Birdie – the little bird with a BIG dream! Michael was born in Greece and immigrated to the U.S. with his family when he was four, and now lives in Manorville, NY with his wife, Dina, their blended family of five amazing children and two precious pups. In addition to his passion for creating stories for children, he is a technology consultant, founder and owner of Business Systems Consulting, a leading NY technology firm that provides premium computer consulting services to small and mid-sized companies. Traveling and spending time with family and friends are favorite pastimes.
Now, how wonderful does Michael sound?! Michael is a truly exceptional writer and I hope that you lovely readers have a read of Michael’s work because you will not regret it! Please see below an interview between me and Michael, I hope that you enjoy Michael’s answers to my questions, they are incredible and provide some great advice too!
Could you please tell us readers about your book and what inspired you to write your book?
On a daily basis we are all faced with challenges in our lives; some small, some big. We can overcome a lot of these challenges if we demonstrate kindness to one another and be considerate of our differences – just like Benjamin Birdie and his tree-dwelling friends inBenjamin Birdie’s First Flight.
Benjamin Birdie’s story is very relevant in today’s world. We currently live in very divisive times. Politics continue to divide our nation, including our families, friends and media outlets.Benjamin Birdie’s First Flight teaches us that we could overcome divisiveness and contention with one simple attribute– kindness.
The animals in Benjamin Birdie’s First Flight represent humanity—different species of animals co-existing on this one tree. The tree represents our earth, or our nation, or our community. Just like the different animals in the book, we (humans) are all very different―with diverse nationalities and cultures, unique characteristics, dissimilar values and belief systems. What we can learn from Benjamin Birdie’s First Flight is that even with our differences we can still peacefully co-exist by displaying kindness and compassion towards one another and by helping each other in times of need. These behaviors will allow us to achieve anything we set our minds to―success, love, peace, and ultimately happiness. A kind world is a beautiful world.
The inspiration for Benjamin Birdie’s story came when my children were very young. We found a small robin’s nest in one of the trees in our backyard and noticed that one of the hatchlings had fallen out of its nest and was laying on the ground helpless. As I placed the hatchling back in its nest, my children asked what would have happened to the little bird if we weren’t around and how would it have gotten back to its nest. That sparked my imagination to write Benjamin Birdie’s First Flight.
What would your advice be for aspiring writers?
Read as many children’s books as possible and study the diverse writing techniques that different authors use (i.e. foreshadowing, repetition, alliteration, rhyming, etc.).
Write down all your ideas, even if there’s no clear story at the idea formation stage. Come back to your ideas on a regular basis and expand and modify as needed.
Many stories and ideas come from everyday experiences, so try to capture a moment/experience in time and write about it.
In your opinion, what is the most important thing about a book?
I love books/stories that engage readers of all ages. There’s nothing better than a children’s book that is enjoyed by both child and adult and engages them in conversation throughout the reading process.
What is your writing process like?
I don’t have an established writing process, but I feel I am most focused and do my best writing when I don’t constantly get interrupted or are distracted by the minutiae of everyday life. Benjamin Birdie’s story was predominantly written on the train―during my commute into my office in Manhattan from my home on Long Island. During the one and a half hour commute I turned my phone ringer off and eliminated all disturbances around me and just focused on writing. I used a notepad app on my phone―phones are mini-computers these days!
What kind of research do you do, and how long do you spend researching before beginning a book?
I did a tremendous amount of research for Benjamin Birdie’s First Flight. I made sure to use animals that lived exclusively on trees or where trees played a big role in their daily lives. In addition, I wanted to raise awareness to the plight of endangered species and only used animals that are endangered, threatened or vulnerable. I spent months researching approximately 40 different animals―finally narrowing them down to the 17 animals in the story. Lastly, I wanted to introduce readers to various exotic animal species―ones that they might never have heard of before―like the cuscus, tarsier and kinkajou.
Do you have a set schedule for writing, or do you only write when you feel inspired?
I do not have a set schedule for writing because I’m involved in so many diverse things. In addition to writing children’s books, I own and run a computer consulting company; my wife and I started a publishing company to assist other indie authors; and I mentor other aspiring children’s book authors and edit/critique their works. My focus is to balance these tasks as carefully as possible. I do allocate a couple of hours each day to write and promote my works. When I’m inspired by a new idea or story, I tend to write for longer stretches during the day.
Do you read much and if so who are your favorite authors?
I definitely read lots of children’s books! I do not have a particularly favorite author, as there are so many great ones out there. In addition, I love to read non-fiction books―especially science books on space and technology―and personal growth books.
Lastly, when can we readers expect to read more wonderful books from you?
I’m very excited to announce that Benjamin Birdie’s sequel, Benjamin Birdie and the Tree Dwellers is being released on October 9, 2018 (and is available for pre-order on Amazon.com & barnesandnoble.com. I always envisioned Benjamin Birdie to have many adventures and I’m extremely proud of this sequel. It’s a truly inspiring tale and I can’t wait for everyone to see what happens to this little bird and his tree-dwelling friends. There are several more Benjamin Birdie books on the horizon, with book #3 in the series coming out in 2019. In addition, I have co-written a fun children’s book with an author from Australia. It’s called Where are Shayla’s Socks. It’s an amusing story about a pair of socks that go missing. We plan on selling a pair of socks with every book and donating another pair of socks to homeless shelters. Look for its release in the first half of 2019. And, lastly, I have several more manuscripts that I’m working on from board books to picture books to middle grade chapter books. Very excited!
Its official book lovers, I am obsessed with Michael! If you have liked what you have read about Michael and are interested in learning more about Michael and reading Michael’s work, then please do have a browse of the links below and be sure to have a read of the preview too! You will not regret it.
Goodbye for now book lovers,