CBC Interview- Another First

Surviving my First CBC Interview.

I get super nervous about radio interviews, so you can imagine how I felt when my wife told me that I was going to be on CBC radio. The interview was about my donation of two sports wheelchairs, which was made possible because of my book, The X-tails Ski at Spider Ridge. The week leading up to the interview was stressful to say the least, but even with lack of sleep and some sweating, my first interview on CBC radio was a huge success (or so I’ve been told). I’m still too nervous to listen to it and the whole experience is a bit foggy!

To listen to my CBC interview,  click here.

 

 

I’m grateful to everyone who took time out of their busy schedule to listen. My Mom told me she was sweating buckets before I went on the air. I think she was more nervous than me! Another friend told me she had tears in her eyes while listening because she was so proud of me. I appreciate all of the support! Below is a portion of the article posted on the CBC website:

‘We’re all special in our own way’: Prince George author highlights wheelchair sports for kids

By Andrew Kurjata, CBC News Posted: Jan 25, 2017 7:00 AM PT

The author of a popular children’s book series in Prince George is using his platform to teach kids about inclusion in sports.

L.A. Fielding is the creator of The X-Tails, an independently-published series about a group of friends who enjoy biking, surfing and generally being active together.

In one story, the characters meet Rhumba, a zebra in a wheelchair, at a ski hill.

At first, the characters are confused about why she’s there but soon discover she is an accomplished sit-skier.

“She doesn’t have a disability. She has different abilities from them,” Fielding explained to CBC Daybreak North host Robert Doane.

                                                             To read the full article click here.

 

#thextails #cbc #inclusion #wheelchairdonation #lafielding

 

 

 

How The X-tails Donated Two Sports Wheelchairs

On January 24, 2017, a dream of mine came true. I donated two sports wheelchairs to the School District 57 Early Learning Program in Prince George, BC.

These chairs are awesome—lime green, fast, and in a smaller size for young kids! I also donated one hundred signed copies of The X-tails Travel to the Jamboree Jam—a board book I’ve written that is perfect for the young children in the Early Learning Program. Similar to my book, The X-tails Ski at Spider Ridge, the Jamboree Jam board book also has a character in a wheelchair, which is a great way to introduce kids to the use of wheelchairs. Check out the photo below of the two donated chairs!

Canadian author, L.A. Fielding, donates two sports wheelchairs in Prince George, BC.

How it all began: In the fall of 2013, I met Nancy Harris, who is the Northern Coordinator for Wheelchair Basketball and the Let’s Play Northern BC Program. She invited me for a coffee and opened my eyes to the great work being done to promote inclusive physical activity for kids with physical disabilities and mobility limitations. Nancy’s message about inclusion and physical activity aligned perfectly with the X-tails children’s book series. Even though I had several stories already written and waiting to be published, I knew I needed to get my laptop out to write a new story—something different.

As Nancy and I were about to part ways that day, I suggested that if I were to write a new book, I could donate part of the proceeds. I was thinking out loud when I said it, and at the time, I had no idea how to do such a thing, but I meant it. Over the following months, I poured all of my energy into writing The X-tails Ski at Spider Ridge—I wanted this book to be a blast to read, but I also wanted it to have a greater purpose.

50% of the proceeds from The X-tails Ski at Spider Ridge are donated to purchase sports equipment for children with physical disabilities and mobility limitations.

How it works: For every copy sold of The X-tails Ski at Spider Ridge, 50% of my royalties are donated for kids with physical disabilities and mobility limitations, which will provide opportunities to use sports wheelchairs and other recreational equipment.

How you can help: Buying the book is a great way to raise funds, but there are many more ways to help. Perhaps you can sell the book in your store or as part of an event. Maybe you can get the book in your local library. How about having me read at your local school or combining my author visit with a wheelchair basketball event? What about fundraising? The ideas are endless!

In 2017 and beyond, I’m asking you for suggestions. Do you have something in mind—a project that is near and dear to your heart, which aligns with this cause? Click here to contact me with your idea!

Tony Hawk, at 48, makes the impossible, possible!

Tony Hawk AirHave you ever wanted to do something that seemed impossible? I grew up idolizing professional skateboarder, Tony Hawk, so when I learned about his recent accomplishment, I was amazed and inspired! When I watch extreme sports athletes, one question often comes to mind: how did they do that? They make a mind blowing trick look easy. I have so much respect for these athletes because I can appreciate how much time, effort, belief and training they put into their passion.

So how did professional skateboarder, Danny Way, jump over the Great Wall  of China on his skateboard? He is the only person in history to jump the wall in a non-motorized vehicle. Professional BMX’er, Matt Hoffman, broke his high air record in 2015 at the age of 43 (over 26.5 feet). Professional snowboarder, Billy Morgan, landed the first ever Backside 1800° Quadruple Cork on his snowboard. That’s four off-axis flips and five full rotations at the same time! Professional motocross rider, Josh Sheehan, made history with the first triple backflip on a motorcycle. Extreme skier, Julian Carr, set the world record with a front flip off a 210-foot cliff. Now, that seems impossible!  American professional big wave surfer, Garrett McNamarathe, set the world record for largest wave ever surfed (100 feet). And Tony Hawk, professional skateboarder and legend, landed the first ever 900 in the 1999 X-Games. Then on June 27, 2016, at the age of 48, he did it again! If you think you’re too old to achieve your goal, watch Tony Hawk show us that age is just a number.

How have these guys accomplished their challenging goals?

Someone once told me that if you want to succeed in something extraordinary, you need to put in 10 years or 10,000 hours of learning and training to accomplish your goal. I think it’s safe to say these professionals have put in 10,000 hours or more of training to become some of the greatest athletes of their sport.

My goal and dream for my children’s books, the X-tails, goes way bigger than what I’ve accomplished thus far. Watching these professional athletes inspires me to keep on reaching for my dreams. To date, I would say I have invested 5,000 hours into the X-tails. Imagine what I can accomplish with 5,000 more!

My wife, Corrie, has become Charm the Kangaroo!

Have you heard your kids say “I can’t?” I always wonderi where they get those words from. I have two children, ages five and seven and it amazes me how many times I hear those words: “But Dad, I can’t do it.” I’m always reminding them, “Yes, you can. You just have to try.”

One of my favorite parts of writing is creating the message behind my story. The reason I wrote, The X-tails BMX at Thunder Track, was because of the message: Saying “I can” instead of “I can’t.” The story revolves around Charm the Kangaroo. As she’s practicing for the upcoming Thunder Track BMX race, she falls and breaks her arm. With an injury, the following weeks are tough for Charm, who has to watch her friends practice without her. Luckily, she has her cast removed in time to race at Thunder Track, but Charm doesn’t think she can do it. As the story goes on, Cham faces her fear with the words, “I can do it. I can do it!”  At the end, Charm understands that yes, she can do it as long as she tries—also learning that it’s about having fun and doing your best.

I have to L.A. Fielding and familylaugh at the irony of my book. My wife, Corrie, has become Charm the Kangaroo. A couple of weeks ago, she fell during a BMX race and fractured her elbow. She now has to sit on the sidelines and cheer us on.

Not participating because of an injury is tough for anyone, and it’s especially hard for Corrie, who is very active. But we believe that it’s been a great example for our children. When you’re injured, you don’t get mad or sad—you have to stay positive and make the best out of the situation. When she’s healed up in a couple of months, Corrie will show our children that you get back on your bike and try again.

The Stigma of Extreme Sports

L.A. Fielding and family at Powder KingHow I am changing the stigma of extreme sports with my children’s book series, The X-tails.

I am still puzzled why extreme sports have such a bad reputation. The “X” in X-tails is for extreme. I find it interesting that when I mention the word “extreme,” it’s assumed by some that my books may not be suited for their young ones. How many kids and parents bike, skateboard, snowboard, or ski? In reality, extreme sports are simply just sports.

When I created the X-tails, one of my goals was to bring a positive image to these sports. Because I have enjoyed these sports as a child and now as an adult, I want others to see these sports in a positive light as well. Years ago, I had a literary agent tell me that my idea of the X-tails was too small of a niche and it wouldn’t work for children’s books. I was surprised by that comment because extreme sports or the action/adventure sports industry was already a $658 billion industry in 2012.  Snowboarding, skiing, and BMX are all Olympic sports and involve some of the best athletes in the world.

I think what makes these sports so great are the positive role models, amazing athleticism, sportsmanship, strong friendships, and unbelievable tricks. I met some of my closest friends through my involvement in these sports.

The X-tails series will soon have six books about extreme sports and each book has its own positive theme: snowboarding (theme: believe in yourself), skiing (theme: inclusion and different abilities), skateboarding (theme: sharing), surfing (theme: bullying), BMXing (theme: sportsmanship and saying “I can” instead of “I can’t”), and dirt biking (theme: respect the environment).

It has been three and a half years since my first book came out, The X-tails Snowboard at Shred Park, and I am proving the nay-sayers wrong. The response to my books has been incredible; children, parents, grandparents and teachers love the stories. I know in time, my books will change the opinions of many others.

Author visits at schools

Five years ago, if someone had told me that I would one day be visiting schools as an author, I would have rolled my eyes and chuckled in disbelief.

 

photo 1 (1)Now, here I am with six published books in the X-tails series and a number of author visits under my belt. I’ve always been shy and I’ve never considered public speaking to be a strength of mine, so when I visited my first school, I knew I had to face my fears. As it turned out, it was not only pain free, but it was also a blast!

Over the years, I’ve fine-tuned how I conduct my author visits. Schools can now prepare early for my visit with my lesson plans and posters. Then on the day of my visit, I start off by showing the students examples of how the illustrator, Vic, and  I work together. For example, Vic won’t always know how to illustrate a trick or stunt in my books, such as a snowboard handplant. For that trick, I provided Vic with digital photo. The photo showed a man upside down on his snowboard, holding himself up with one arm. To complicate matters for Vic, I asked for that upside down man to be changed into an elephant, who is holding himself up with his trunk. I show the students this process: a photo of a trick, turned into a pencil illustration, then color added using a computer, and finally my words added to the page. The students love it!

Next, I reveal secrets to the students—secrets about how the characters’ names are based on terms for animal groups, such as the name “Flight,” which means a group of butterflies and “Mischief“ is a group of mice. The students are amazed that every name, even for the guest characters, has a secret meaning. I also reveal how I came up with name, “the X-tails.” I even admit that one of the X-tails doesn’t have a tail. And if the students are really lucky, they’ll receive a sneak peek of my next book, which is top secret!

After telling secrets, we’re ready for storytelling. The beginning of my reading has the students roaring, howling, growling, grunting, bellowing, and even thumping their feet like kangaroos. Story time is interactive and is the highlight of my visit. I love watching the students become engaged and pulled into the story, word by word.

New for me in my school visits is speaking to grades 5 – 7 about the writing process. I consider my stories and my style of writing to be different. Because of this, I love to share how I come up with ideas, including the setting, character development (my favourite part of the writing process) and plot.

Sometimes we’ll brainstorm ideas for a new book or series. You’ll always have a student who raises his or her hand only to say something silly to make their friends laugh (I anticipate a whopper coming when the student can barely get the words out without giggling), but more often than not, the students will come up with very creative ideas. Brainstorming together is another interactive exercise and it’s fun for all of us.

Kids have the most amazing imaginations and I love hearing their questions and comments. They say the darndest things—I remember one student patiently holding up his hand. When he finally got his chance to ask a question, he sadly stuck out his lower lip and told me his pet bird had died—it was quite adorable.

At the end of my visit, students receive order forms to take home, providing the opportunity to purchase signed copies of the X-tails books. Each ordered book is personally signed to the child.

I feel blessed to have the opportunity to inspire children to read, write, and believe in themselves. My school visits are one of the greatest benefits of being an author and I look forward to many more visits to come!

 

 

Giving Back: a greater purpose

Why my 3rd book, The X-tails Ski at Spider Ridge, is near and dear to my heart. It’s about giving back.

In The X-tails Ski at Spider Rider, the main character, Rhumba, is in a wheelchair, and she skis sitting down on a sit-ski. At first, the X-tails see Rhumba as having a disability, but it doesn’t take long before they realize that she actually has different abilities. This book is sure to warm the heart of any reader, and it’s amazing for me to think back on how this book came to be.

The X-tails Ski at Spider Ridge

It was in the fall of 2013 when I first met Nancy Harris, who is the Northern Coordinator for Wheelchair Basketball and the Let’s Play Northern BC Program. She invited me for a coffee, and in that one hour meeting, she opened my eyes to the great work being done to promote inclusive physical activity for kids with physical disabilities and mobility limitations. I was so interested in what Nancy had to say, it wasn’t long before her message and her personal story had a big impact on me. Nancy’s message about inclusion and physical activity aligned perfectly with the X-tails children’s book series. Even though I had several stories already written and waiting to be published, I knew I needed to write a new story—something different.

As Nancy and I were about to part ways that day, I suggested that if I were to write a new book, I could donate part of the proceeds. I was thinking out loud when I said it, and at the time, I had no idea how to do such a thing, but I meant it. Over the following months, I poured all of my energy into writing The X-tails Ski at Spider Ridge. I wanted this book to be a blast to read, but I also wanted it to have a greater purpose.

Details about the donations:

For every copy sold of The X-tails Ski at Spider Ridge, 50% of my royalties are donated for kids with physical disabilities and mobility limitations, which will provide opportunities to use sports wheelchairs and other recreational equipment. We believe in giving back.

Rumba the Zebra

Currently, we have raised over $3500 and are in the process of purchasing a sports wheelchair for the Prince George area. This is something we are very excited about! We will provide an update when everything is finalized.

In 2017 and beyond, I am asking you for suggestions. Do you have something in mind—a project that is near and dear to your heart, which aligns well with this cause? Click here to contact me with your idea!

How you can help:

Buying the book is a great way to raise funds, but there are many more ways to help. Perhaps you can sell the book in your store or as part of an event or fundraiser. Maybe you can get the book in your local library. How about having me read at your local school or combining my author visit with a wheelchair basketball event? The ideas are endless! Click here to contact me with your idea!

 

 

 

Baby Board Book: The most challenging story I’ve written yet

Jamboree Jam coverWriting a board book for babies and toddlers was the biggest challenge I have faced yet!

The day I decided to write a baby book, I had no idea it would be the most challenging book in the X-tails series yet. For the longest time, I had the desire to write a book for a slightly different demographic: a younger audience.  A book for babies and toddlers would need to be durable and that’s why I chose to go the board book route. In my head, I could visualize the book—a funny, rhyming story that was also meant for learning. It would be a book much different than my other books, but still needed to align with the X-tails series. It sounded easy, but trust me, it wasn’t! My wife, Corrie, and I brainstormed MANY ideas for a simple plot, but not too simple as it had to be entertaining and fun for both the child and the parent.

After an eternity, we settled on a plot about a race. But where, who, and why were they racing? It slowly evolved into the X-tails meeting new friends . . . who are all doing wild and wacky activities . . . . and who are then invited to travel to the Jamboree Jam, which is a race around the world!  And of course, I gave the end of the story a funny twist—which I won’t give away in this blog! Although coming up with the initial idea was tough, I faced a much tougher challenge—writing the story in rhyme. Through lots of research and hundreds of revisions, I was ready to provide it to my Editor. I’m fortunate to work with a great Editor, who gave me wonderful feedback. But for this book, I was even more fortunate that my Editor’s son, who had graduated from a Poetry Masters program in Scotland, was also able to review my manuscript. Both provided positive feedback, but they also had some great critiques. I continued to make adjustments, particularly on the meter of story, making it rhyme and flow smoothly. Back again to my editors, and with the only feedback being a missing comma, it was ready for the illustrations!

Vic, did another terrific job with the illustrations! He brought out the humour of the characters (especially the bull!), helped to make the X-tails younger, and added a fresh look to the X-van. He also did a great job of incorporating my learning concept, which was the subtle objective of learning colours.  

After the illustrations were complete, the whole package went to my Book Designer, Margaret.  As usual, she perfectly added the text, making specific words colourful and fun. Lastly, she completed the front and back cover. The book was almost done!

Okay, time for the printer. I’ve worked with a couple different printing companies through my other books, so I figured that finding a printer would be easy for this book. It turned out that I couldn’t be more wrong! Printing proved to be another learning curve as board book printers are uncommon in North America. The very few that do exist are pricey, especially with a low Canadian dollar. I had some affordable options of printing companies in Singapore and China, and ended up working with a company in Toronto, who are affiliated with a Chinese printer that uses soy based inks. With overseas shipping, port fees, and board book specifications much different than softcover specs, it’s been quite the ride!

The X-tails Travel to the Jamboree Jam is now being printed and I’ll have the books by the end of May. I must admit that I’m extremely proud of this book. It made me dig deep into my creative side and hone in on my writing skills. I’m also excited that the story is set up for a sequel, The X-tails Race at the Jamboree Jam. All in all, I feel as if I’ve grown as an author and I can’t wait for everyone to see the book. If you wish to be contacted when The X-tails Travel to the Jamboree Jam is available, click here.

 

 

I love school readings

 

author visits Canadian children's author

I feel blessed to have the opportunity to visit schools to do school readings and author visits, and share my stories and writing experience with children.

Last year, I was warmly welcomed by several schools, and yesterday, I read my X-tails books to the wonderful students at Ecole College Heights Elementary. It was so much fun! I did five separate reading sessions altogether, with two classes per session. From kindergarten to grade five, the kids smiled, listened intently, laughed, and asked lots of questions. I received many great ideas for my future books, too! I ended up finishing the day with a raspy voice, but I had a big smile on my face!

We’ve had excellent reviews from schools about our school readings and author visits. Here’s what Ecole College Heights Elementary had to say about my visit:

school readings by L.A. Fielding

 

Interview from my hometown newspaper

My first interview for my children’s books with The Delta Optimist.

Slowly but surely, word is getting out about the X-tails!  Below is an article that ran in the Delta Optimist on Nov. 20, 2013.  The Delta Optimist is the local newspaper from South Delta, where I grew up.  Now that the X-tails have been in all of the big newspapers, next stop is Oprah, Ellen, and of course Entertainment Tonight Canada! OK, maybe that’s stretching it, but I’m zoober-stoked to see how supportive everyone has been!  A big thanks!  Here is the article:

Author returns with first book in children’s series

Author L.A. Fielding

A former Tsawwassenite was back in town earlier this month to promote his first children’s book.

Larry Fielding, who grew up in Tsawwassen but now lives in Prince George, was at Raindance: A Festival for Indie Authors at Lansdowne Centre in Richmond to promote his book, The X-tails Snowboard at Shred Park, the first in a series of six self published children’s books that follow the antics of six best friends on their search for fun that takes them on many wild and extreme adventures.

Fielding, who writes as L.A. Fielding, grew up in Tsawwassen but left shortly after high school. After spending a year living, and snowboarding, at Mount Baker, he ended up studying forestry at the University of Northern B.C. Now settled in Prince George with his wife and two children, Fielding said the idea for the X-tails was born on the weekly drives the family would make to go snowboarding at Powder King Mountain Resort. During the two-hour drive, Fielding said, all his son would want is for him to tell stories.

His wife encouraged him to start writing them down, and the X-tails was born.

Growing up, Fielding, a professional forester, was an avid athlete and gravitated to skateboarding, biking and snowboarding. Today, he continues to pursue his love of those sports with his family. And his love of sport and adventure has come through in his children’s stories.

Fielding began work on the books two years ago and the first one has been out for about a month.

He said he is currently working on the second book in the series.

The X-tails Snowboard at ShredPark is available in e-book format for Apple devices and Kindles through iBooks and Amazon. Hard and soft cover versions of the book can also be found on Amazon.

For more about X-tails visit www.thextails.com.