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FULL EPISODE: August 11, 2022

August 11, 2022

Meet Western Mass philanthropist Harold Grinspoon, who found a second act as a contemporary sculptor inspired by nature and found objects.Then, children’s author/illustrator Diane deGroat chats about her career and her latest release, The Adventures of Robo-Kid.And, we visit Miss Adams Diner, an historic Berkshire County eatery with a new lease on life thanks to local entrepreneur Pete Oleskiewicz.Finally, founder Ayanna Crawford shares how Take

Meet Western Mass philanthropist Harold Grinspoon, who found a second act as a contemporary sculptor inspired by nature and found objects.Then, children’s author/illustrator Diane deGroat chats about her career and her latest rele

Meet Western Mass philanthropist Harold Grinspoon, who found a second act as a contemporary sculptor inspired by nature and found objects.Then, children’s author/illustrator Diane deGroat chats about her career and her latest release, The Adventures of Robo-Kid.And, we visit Miss Adams Diner, an historic Berkshire County eatery with a new lease on life thanks to local entrepreneur Pete Oleskiewicz.Finally, founder Ayanna Crawford shares how Take

Meet Western Mass philanthropist Harold Grinspoon, who found a second act as a contemporary sculptor inspired by nature and found objects.

Then, children’s author/illustrator Diane deGroat chats about her career and her latest release, The Adventures of Robo-Kid.

And, we visit Miss Adams Diner, an historic Berkshire County eatery with a new lease on life thanks to local entrepreneur Pete Oleskiewicz.

Finally, founder Ayanna Crawford shares how Take the Mic boosts girls’ confidence and self-esteem by teaching them public speaking skills.

Meet Western Mass philanthropist Harold Grinspoon, who found a second act as a contemporary sculptor inspired by nature and found objects.Then, children’s author/illustrator Diane deGroat chats about her career and her latest release, The Adventures of Robo-Kid.And, we visit Miss Adams Diner, an historic Berkshire County eatery with a new lease on life thanks to local entrepreneur Pete Oleskiewicz.Finally, founder Ayanna Crawford shares how Take

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Behind the Scenes at Harold Grinspoon Sculptures (Digital Exclusive)

August 11, 2022

Curator Madeline Calabrese gives us a behind the scenes look at how the team Harold Grinspoon Sculptures creates unique pieces of art that are visible throughout the Pioneer Valley in parks, town greens, and college campuses. Learn more about Harold Grinspoon in our full feature on the philanthropist and sculptor. Read the full transcript:Madeline Calabrese, Curator, Harold Grinspoon Sculptures: In the beginning it was more, "How does this all wo

Curator Madeline Calabrese gives us a behind the scenes look at how the team Harold Grinspoon Sculptures creates unique pieces of art that are visible throughout the Pioneer Valley in parks, town greens, and college campuses. Lear

Curator Madeline Calabrese gives us a behind the scenes look at how the team Harold Grinspoon Sculptures creates unique pieces of art that are visible throughout the Pioneer Valley in parks, town greens, and college campuses. Learn more about Harold Grinspoon in our full feature on the philanthropist and sculptor. Read the full transcript:Madeline Calabrese, Curator, Harold Grinspoon Sculptures: In the beginning it was more, "How does this all wo

Curator Madeline Calabrese gives us a behind the scenes look at how the team Harold Grinspoon Sculptures creates unique pieces of art that are visible throughout the Pioneer Valley in parks, town greens, and college campuses. 

Learn more about Harold Grinspoon in our full feature on the philanthropist and sculptor. 

Read the full transcript:

Madeline Calabrese, Curator, Harold Grinspoon Sculptures: In the beginning it was more, "How does this all work?"

What's all the products we need? How long do they last? Who -- who do we need for help? Where do we do this?

They don't become a sculpture until we put them up, and this property is the staging area.

At the moment, curating is matching the best sculpture with the best exhibition opportunity. Sometimes, we're evaluating properties that have contacted us that they would like some of his sculptures. So, we visit the property together and it's making the connection with what they're about and what his sculpture is about.

Sometimes, the sculpture matches is better than the name of the sculpture, so we're -- I always offered them the option if they want to change the name. But nobody's taken that yet.

He only loans them. He doesn't sell them. He doesn't need to. He just enjoys the whole process.

Curator Madeline Calabrese gives us a behind the scenes look at how the team Harold Grinspoon Sculptures creates unique pieces of art that are visible throughout the Pioneer Valley in parks, town greens, and college campuses. Learn more about Harold Grinspoon in our full feature on the philanthropist and sculptor. Read the full transcript:Madeline Calabrese, Curator, Harold Grinspoon Sculptures: In the beginning it was more, "How does this all wo

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Contemporary Sculptor Harold Grinspoon

August 11, 2022

Businessman and philanthropist Harold Grinspoon has always had a love of nature — especially trees. Grinspoon is fascinated by the bend and reach of fallen branches, logs, and charred tree stumps.  But it was a downed cherry tree in his own backyard that stirred him to what he calls a “personal awakening” and a late-in-life vocation as a sculptor.  Producer Dave Fraser brings us his story. Go behind the scenes at Grinspoon’s workshop in this digi

Businessman and philanthropist Harold Grinspoon has always had a love of nature — especially trees. Grinspoon is fascinated by the bend and reach of fallen branches, logs, and charred tree stumps.  But it was a downed cherry tree

Businessman and philanthropist Harold Grinspoon has always had a love of nature — especially trees. Grinspoon is fascinated by the bend and reach of fallen branches, logs, and charred tree stumps.  But it was a downed cherry tree in his own backyard that stirred him to what he calls a “personal awakening” and a late-in-life vocation as a sculptor.  Producer Dave Fraser brings us his story. Go behind the scenes at Grinspoon’s workshop in this digi

Businessman and philanthropist Harold Grinspoon has always had a love of nature — especially trees. Grinspoon is fascinated by the bend and reach of fallen branches, logs, and charred tree stumps.  

But it was a downed cherry tree in his own backyard that stirred him to what he calls a “personal awakening” and a late-in-life vocation as a sculptor.  

Producer Dave Fraser brings us his story. 

Go behind the scenes at Grinspoon’s workshop in this digital exclusive segment. 

Read the full transcript:

Zydalis Bauer, Connecting Point: Businessman and philanthropist Harold Grinspoon has always had a love of nature, especially trees in all forms, being taken with the bends and reach of fallen branches, logs, and charred tree stumps.

But it was a downed cherry tree in his own backyard that stirred him to what he calls a personal awakening and a late-in-life vocation as a sculptor. Producer Dave Fraser brings us his story.

Harold Grinspoon, Artist: You can see the natural beauty of this piece of wood.

Dave Fraser, Connecting Point: Well-known for his work as a philanthropist, Harold Grinspoon became an artist less than ten years ago, working mostly with reclaimed wood from downed trees and branches from all over the country.

Today, in his nineties, Grinspoon, who suffered from throat and tongue cancer in the early 1980s, is having the time of his life watching his ideas blossom into reality.

Harold Grinspoon: It's very joyful. It's very refreshing. You always want to keep your mind sharp and going, if possible. And sometimes your body gets aged little bit, but if you are blessed to have a mind and work with it...

Dave Fraser: His sculptures have risen out of a life of creative ventures in both business and establishing the Harold Grinspoon Foundation, which provides literacy and heritage for Jewish children.

People close to Grinspoon say he is always thinking about the next impactful item or sculpture he can create.

Madeline Calabrese, Harold Grinspoon Sculptures Curator: His creative mind is always thinking, so he'll browse antique shops.

He browses through Brimfield Fair and certain items catch his eye. "Oh, this can be a top." "This can be a point of interest; this could be a great base." And he buys them up and brings them to the shop.

And he mentioned today he had 12 new ones in his mind and... that’s exciting and it shocks me sometimes he's way ahead of me and I don't even know, they're not on paper yet.

Dave Fraser: A lifelong nature lover, Grinspoon began retrieving unique specimens of wood while on hikes that he took all around the world.

But it was at his home in Longmeadow that his inspiration for tree sculptures was born.

Harold Grinspoon: I think seven or eight years ago, there was a cherry tree that fell down in my backyard. A big, massive, high cherry tree. It was curved.

So, we had that up and quartered it and it came out to be very nice. And then we just kept on going, and now we're doing lots of other things besides wood.

Dave Fraser: Recently, he has moved into working with stainless steel spheres and rods, glass globes, and other found objects.

Even old bicycles have made their way into one of his works.

Harold Grinspoon: Simple concept. Wow! Bicycles! I was waiting for Paul. Just scattered all over the place. It's beautiful.

Dave Fraser: Grinspoon's towering sculptures are the result of intensely collaborative efforts that marry his vision, reflected in his preliminary sketches, with the logistics of sourcing, transporting, transforming, and preserving fallen trees.

He established an indoor-outdoor studio space at an Agawam corporate property, where his charitable foundations are based. The trees are allowed to dry for as long as eight months.

Harold Grinspoon: Probably it takes over a year-- years’ time for the concept to the finished product, because you're going through several pieces at one time.

As you go through them, you're changing your concept, you're changing your idea. You're always moving the idea around.

Dave Fraser: Although its creation came late in life, Grinspoon's art has been percolating over many years.

"I've spent a lifetime evolving as a person," he says, "attempting to grow and expand my thinking and capacity for caring and generosity and being present in the moment. Art has ultimately been the gift that unlocked more understanding than I could have imagined."

Harold Grinspoon: When you're out in nature, physically work out, it's these endorphins. I guess that's the right word, endorphins? They take over.

And if you're a cranky old guy, you become a smiley, wonderful human being.

Madeline Calabrese: He's the mixture of, you know, aging out and yet being vibrant.

He's fighting against time. And he wants to make the most of every single moment and day that he has. And it's -- it's -- it's a great way to live.

Businessman and philanthropist Harold Grinspoon has always had a love of nature — especially trees. Grinspoon is fascinated by the bend and reach of fallen branches, logs, and charred tree stumps.  But it was a downed cherry tree in his own backyard that stirred him to what he calls a “personal awakening” and a late-in-life vocation as a sculptor.  Producer Dave Fraser brings us his story. Go behind the scenes at Grinspoon’s workshop in this digi

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Take the Mic Helps Girls Master Public Speaking Skills

August 11, 2022

After helping her young daughter build on her public speaking skills, Ayanna Crawford realized that learning this skill set would benefit other young girls as well.  Soon after, Crawford founded Take the Mic, a program that helps children build their confidence and self-esteem by learning the art of public speaking.  Now in its 8th year of programming, Crawford joined Zydalis Bauer to share more about the program and its impact. Read the full tra

After helping her young daughter build on her public speaking skills, Ayanna Crawford realized that learning this skill set would benefit other young girls as well.  Soon after, Crawford founded Take the Mic, a program that helps

After helping her young daughter build on her public speaking skills, Ayanna Crawford realized that learning this skill set would benefit other young girls as well.  Soon after, Crawford founded Take the Mic, a program that helps children build their confidence and self-esteem by learning the art of public speaking.  Now in its 8th year of programming, Crawford joined Zydalis Bauer to share more about the program and its impact. Read the full tra

After helping her young daughter build on her public speaking skills, Ayanna Crawford realized that learning this skill set would benefit other young girls as well.  

Soon after, Crawford founded Take the Mic, a program that helps children build their confidence and self-esteem by learning the art of public speaking.  

Now in its 8th year of programming, Crawford joined Zydalis Bauer to share more about the program and its impact. 

Read the full transcript:

Zydalis Bauer, Connecting Point: After helping her young daughter build on her public speaking skills, Ayanna Crawford realized that learning this skill set may be something that other young girls needed, as well.

Soon after, Crawford founded the Take the Mic program, which offers sessions for children to build their confidence and self-esteem by learning the art of public speaking.

Now in its eighth year of programing, Crawford joins me to share more about the program and its impact.

Ayanna Crawford, Take the Mic: When my daughter was in third grade, she'd come home, you know, nervous -- sort of crying almost -- about the fact that she wasn't ready to present her project because there was a portion of her project that she had to present with her peers. And so, I said, "Oh, no! We can't have that."

So, I just sat her down. We talked a little bit, you know, about public speaking. We talked a little bit about, you know, her fear and then ways that she could use in order to do this presentation.

So, with that being said, I knew that there is probably other students that might have needed some help. So, we actually formed a little group, and we got a couple of her friends, and we did a couple of like mock presentations just to kind of help them.

And she soared. Now she's going to be a senior in high school, and she not only speaks in public, but she's confident.

Zydalis Bauer: And so since 2014, this program has helped so many children and young adults build on their public speaking skill set.

Why is this such an important skill set to acquire and then foster?

Ayanna Crawford: We know in business and school and all types of work that we do, you know, the fear of public speaking, right? The fear of speaking to people that you might not know, the fear that you might not say the right words, right? The fear of not coming across clear and concise. And so, we all have that fear.

And so, it's important that we start early in schools and in, you know, early childhood centers talking about public speaking, because it's it affects every walk of life that we get involved in -- whether you work at the grocery store, whether you work in a college, whether you are a teacher, a professor, you know, working with what you do as a -- as a host of a TV show. You know, everything that we do has to do with speaking.

And so, we want to make sure that we are helping not only young people, but those that might need some understanding on how do you have those tools, how do you have great ways of sort of, you know, pausing, taking a moment and breathing and saying, "You know what? Let me reevaluate or let me take a moment and figure out what I want to say."

Zydalis Bauer: You touched on that really nicely, you know, kind of bringing the point that it doesn't matter what career you choose, public speaking is important.

I was actually really shy growing up and so, when I first decided to pick this career, I remember, you know, having to do public speaking, being like, "Why am I putting myself in this position?" But not really realizing that this is a good skill no matter which pathway you take.

So, can you talk about how the confidence of public speaking helps build self-esteem? Why do they go hand in hand?

Ayanna Crawford: That's a great question! And I think for our program in particular, what we found was that, when girls have confidence in what they are saying, when girls have a message to say that they're passionate about, that builds their self- esteem. That makes them feel that not only what they're saying that they believe in it, but they convey it to -- to whomever they're speaking to.

And so, in anything that anyone does, if you're passionate about something and you understand the idiosyncrasies of what you're saying, and you yourself are very commanding of that message, then it comes across that way.

Zydalis Bauer: So, Ayanna, you currently are working as the state rep for Orlando Ramos, and you've also had a very successful teaching career in the city of Springfield, as well as being very involved in the community.

So, tell me, how were you able to build your confidence and grow your skillset in public speaking?

Ayanna Crawford: That's a great question! And I kind of think about that in terms of my mother, my father, my aunts, my uncles, my grandmother, and the works that they did.

My mother was a nurse for 40 years. You know, she had to convey messages. She had to talk to people. Whenever we would go to the grocery store, I thought my mother knew everybody in the world because everybody in the world would always stop my mother in the grocery store and she would stop her grocery shopping and have a conversation and talk to whomever she talked to. And she would always -- for me as a child, she would be warm, she would be smiling, she would have eye contact, and she would always pause and listen to the other speaker.

And so, that was sort of my interaction. How do you interact, for one, in terms of when you're talking to people? But my mother was always caring when she talked and so, I saw that early on. It was it was a warm feeling that I recall growing up and wanting to have that for myself and then wanting to be able to teach that to others.

Because I think there's an art to public speaking, there's an art to conversations, and there's an art to listening, because I think we often don't do enough of that, right? We don't listen enough.

And so, if we listen more than we'll be able to share a message of hope to others because of what we hear from them.

Zydalis Bauer: And Take the Mic is -- has after school sessions as well as summer sessions, and you describe it as a fun and interactive environment.

So, can you walk us through what a session looks like and how are you able to really encourage these young adults and students to open up and be themselves during these programs?

Ayanna Crawford: In the beginning, it's sort of a little tricky, but we get them engaged. So, what we do is we allow them to do icebreakers. We know that icebreakers are a way to let your hair down a bit, get engaged, and get really sort of active.

And once we do that, then we sort of start off with our initial class, which is our introductory to public speaking. We do a PowerPoint presentation, we have the girls do interactive activities, role playing, and also, we give them some additional activities to do to showcase their public speaking. We might have them read a poem; we might have them read a tongue twister. We might have the read a short essay, you know, something to engage them and get them excited.

And then also within the program, we have a creative writing class, we have a computer class, we have a nutrition class that we do with the girls. We also have what to wear, what not to wear, health and beauty, because we believe that all those components, with your presentation and what you're saying, also conveys a message, too. You know, and how you take care of yourself is also going to exude some of that positivity and that -- that understanding in terms of your presentation.

And so, we also have guest speakers at each of the days that we are scheduled. So, we have professional women speakers that come and share not only their careers, but also how public speaking has impacted their lives and their careers. And so, it's a wonderful thing to hear from other women in other perspectives and how public speaking has come about for themselves.

And then we have a ceremony at the end, where each girl will be able to present a topic of their choice on community service project, and they present it to their peers. And we all get to listen to the skills and their presentation at the end.

Zydalis Bauer: I can only imagine how powerful that presentation at the end must be, seeing the transition and the transformation of these children.

What has been maybe one moment from an individual or a group that you've worked with that has really stuck with you in a moment of transformation that you've seen?

Ayanna Crawford: You know, it goes back to my first initial program, and my first initial program was what we called a seminar. It was a one day Take the Mic seminar. We had about 45 girls.

There was two girls that weren't sure if they wanted to come. They were very, very shy. Even in their peer groups with their friends, they didn't really talk at all, nothing. And after our program, the parent and the friend said, "Oh my goodness, my friend is talking. She loved your program! It was almost as if you cured her from being shy. She loved it!"

And so, from that day on, she gradually gained more confidence in her own public speaking. She became a better speaker with her friends and her school and her parents. And for that reason alone, I knew that I needed to continue to do that. And that was in 2014.

Zydalis Bauer: And so now, eight years later, here we are still talking about this program.

How would you like to see it grow and what is the future of take the mic?

Ayanna Crawford: I think that we need to have a public speaking course in our schools. I believe that public speaking should be started at a very young age, whether it be first grade, second grade, but embedded in the curriculum.

I believe every child and every school around the country should have and offer a public speaking course. And I would love for Take the Mic to be in every school, in every district around the country. The skills that they gain as a public speaker is going to be so beneficial for them in the future.

After helping her young daughter build on her public speaking skills, Ayanna Crawford realized that learning this skill set would benefit other young girls as well.  Soon after, Crawford founded Take the Mic, a program that helps children build their confidence and self-esteem by learning the art of public speaking.  Now in its 8th year of programming, Crawford joined Zydalis Bauer to share more about the program and its impact. Read the full tra

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The Adventures of Robo-Kid Author/Illustrator Diane deGroat

August 11, 2022

Award-winning author and illustrator Diane deGroat has worked on over 150 books — and she can now add one more to her list.  Her latest release, The Adventures of Robo-Kid, takes readers on an inspiring journey of what it takes to be a hero, by telling the story of a child living in the real world who encounters a comic book character. The book touches on topics such as anxiety and explores the courage that it takes to cope with those emotions.  

Award-winning author and illustrator Diane deGroat has worked on over 150 books — and she can now add one more to her list.  Her latest release, The Adventures of Robo-Kid, takes readers on an inspiring journey of what it takes to

Award-winning author and illustrator Diane deGroat has worked on over 150 books — and she can now add one more to her list.  Her latest release, The Adventures of Robo-Kid, takes readers on an inspiring journey of what it takes to be a hero, by telling the story of a child living in the real world who encounters a comic book character. The book touches on topics such as anxiety and explores the courage that it takes to cope with those emotions.  

Award-winning author and illustrator Diane deGroat has worked on over 150 books — and she can now add one more to her list.  

Her latest release, The Adventures of Robo-Kid, takes readers on an inspiring journey of what it takes to be a hero, by telling the story of a child living in the real world who encounters a comic book character. The book touches on topics such as anxiety and explores the courage that it takes to cope with those emotions.  

Zydalis Bauer spoke with deGroat to learn more about her books and her career. 

What tools does an author/illustrator need in her tool belt? Explore the tools of the trade for a modern illustrator in this digital exclusive clip.  

Read the full transcript:

Zydalis Bauer, Connecting Point: Award-winning author and illustrator Diane deGroat has worked on over 150 books, and she can now add one more to her list.

Her latest is entitled "The Adventures of Robo Kid," and it takes readers on an inspiring journey of what it takes to be a hero by telling the story of a child living in the real world who encounters a comic book character. The book touches on topics such as anxiety and explores the courage that it takes to cope with those emotions.

I spoke with deGroat to learn more.

Diane deGroat, Illustrator/Author: I was always that kid in the classroom that was "the artist," you know, growing up, because I always loved to draw and that was my thing. I love to draw and paint and art.

And even at a young age, I knew that I would be an artist when I grew up in some way, shape, or form.

Zydalis Bauer: One thing that I thought was really ironic about your story is that you didn't grow up as much of a reader. You didn't really read too many books but--

Diane deGroat: Ooh you're not supposed to say that! Yeah, I do tell the kids when I visit schools that I was not a reader. I did not like to read. I was a pretty good student, but I only read what I had to read. No, I didn't like to read.

I liked looking at the pictures. I loved books and I just love turning the pages and looking at the pictures and the art and saying, "Wow, I wish I could do that."

So no, it was only until much later, even as a grown up where I became a reader and I learned that I had to become a reader before I could become a writer.

Zydalis Bauer: No, and that's really interesting because I was going to say, after doing 20 years of illustration, you decided to try your hand at writing.

Diane deGroat: Yeah! I thought I knew so much about books and had read so many other authors books to illustrate their stories, I thought, "Well, how hard could it be?"

Well, I found out it was hard, and I found out I was not a very good writer. So, I did all the right things: I took classes, I practiced, I joined a critique group, but most of all, I started reading and reading good books. And that's how you learn about good writing, is reading good books.

So, I really worked at it to become a writer and it wasn't easy. Illustration was really easy, but writing -- and it's still hard. It's not natural for me, so I have to work at it.

Zydalis Bauer: So, this book takes us on an inspiring journey where a real boy -- his life is intersected by a comic book hero.

So, tell me more about the book and some of the adventures we will go on within it.

Diane deGroat: Well, it starts out with Henry is the boy and he has some self-esteem issues and is afraid, in this case without giving a lot away, it's about swimming in the deep water. And he's afraid.

And also, at the same time, the comic book character we see at the bottom of the book what his life is. And he needs a -- he needs a break. His life is boring. So, he climbs out of the comic and ends up right in the boy's backpack! And comes just at the right time, so that Henry feels that if he's with him, he could do anything.

So, it's a matter of, I think, having the right attitude and feeling you could do something with a little encouragement if you didn't have that before. So -- so, I think it's positive thinking, that would be the lesson in the book. Yes.

Zydalis Bauer: So, you've mentioned that when you're illustrating a book, you are always learning something new.

And being that this style of book was new, and it was a different kind of creation for you, what did you learn about yourself through this experience?

Diane deGroat: Well, it was a totally different medium. If I hold up the book, you can see the boy’s part is a very soft pencil drawing and the comic book part is a line drawing, looks like an ink drawing.  But really, it's not pencil, it's charcoal. And it's not a line drawing, it's digital art in the computer.

So, I've been using Photoshop for quite a few years to incorporate it into even my "Gilbert" books. You can't tell, but there is digital art in there, and also the "Charlie the Wrench Dog" books -- there's some digital art, but you can't see it.

So -- but I love using Photoshop and I love charcoal as a drawing medium. I do a lot of figure drawing and I just love it! So, I combine the two things and I figured out, "Well, this is very different because everyone's telling me I have to come up with a fresh style." And I was really getting tired of watercolor, so hey! Why don't I try this?

So, I was able to combine the charcoal drawings, scan them and put them in the computer and then color it in with digital color and combining the two, and there you have it!

Zydalis Bauer: So, speaking of all this drawing in the digital and the combining, it brings me to one of the most frequently asked questions that children always ask you, which is where do you get your ideas?

And for me, as somebody who's not an artist, it's...I always love to ask the question, like, how do you conceptualize these drawings? Where do they come from? What's your process like?

Diane deGroat: Well, to get the drawings, I first have to get the story, of course! And it is very strange because I wear two different hats. When I'm writing, I wear an author's cap and when I'm illustrating, I wear an artist's cap, like I was drawing for somebody else's book. But in this case, it's for mine.

In this case, I had to actually do both at the same time, because the visual was such an important part of the writing. So, I would just make rough sketches as I'm writing it. And -- and the text is really just dialog. So, really the illustration was much more important than the writing of the story.

But once I had the idea and the story, then I could handle it visually.

Zydalis Bauer: So, you've been very open even in this interview about dealing with some challenges, dealing with rejection, trying to get better at certain crafts.

So, how were you able to handle any of that negative feedback and what advice do you have for others when it comes to courage, perseverance and not giving up?

Diane deGroat: Good question! Up until recently, I didn't have any negative feedback. I've always been working continuously for all those years, and it was only after I invested about the last 20 years into the Gilbert and the Charlie books that I -- and then when I finished, I realized I was out of the loop. It was much, much harder and the field had changed.

So, it was with perseverance and finally getting an agent also for the first time that really helped me. It's not easy, and for someone even to break into the field now, it really takes perseverance and I think being knowledgeable with social media is absolutely vital, even if, us old folks we say, "We just don't want to deal with that," you know?

We just felt that if your work was good, it would get published. But that's not the case anymore. You really have to do research, you have to promote yourself, and you have to reach out to your audience instead of just sitting there and waiting for them to come to you. Really important.

Award-winning author and illustrator Diane deGroat has worked on over 150 books — and she can now add one more to her list.  Her latest release, The Adventures of Robo-Kid, takes readers on an inspiring journey of what it takes to be a hero, by telling the story of a child living in the real world who encounters a comic book character. The book touches on topics such as anxiety and explores the courage that it takes to cope with those emotions.  

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