Monday, November 14, 2022

Washington state artist shares ways to slow down in new book

Posted by Elena del Valle on September 28, 2022

The Cottage Fairy Companion
The Cottage Fairy Companion

Photos: Yellow Pear Press

Artist Paola Merrill reads children’s books and posts video snippets of her life in a cottage in rural Washington State as The Cottage Fairy on As of this writing a little over one million people follow her updates. In The Cottage Fairy Companion A Cottagecore Guide to Slow Living, Connecting to Nature, and Becoming Enchanted Again (Yellow Pear Press, $22.99), her first book, she shares her “meditations and practices.” From idea to completion the project required one year.

When asked about herself by email via her publisher she replied, “I spend my days painting in my cottage, taking long walks with my husband and dog, reading children’s books, and drinking lots of tea while curled up with my kitty! My goal is to make my art and work as earth conscious as possible, and to spread joy and wonder through all my media. In the same way that nature and stories inspire me, I want to encourage creativity and peace in others to share the light and beauty of this world.”

She wrote the book for “Anyone looking to slow down for some moments of peaceful reflection!” The 166-page softcover book published this year features her art in watercolor and ink pens. It is divided into four main sections by season: Spring, Summer, Autumn and Winter.

Paola Merrill, author, The Cottage Fairy Companion

Paola Merrill, author, The Cottage Fairy Companion

When asked what she hopes to achieve by writing about living in a cottage she said, “To give readers a moment to slow down and reflect on the beauty of life around them. And maybe inspire them to simplify life and prioritize what brings them fulfillment and joy.”

How will she measure success in relation to the book? She said, “I am not actually trying to measure success. It has been a dream of mine to publish a book for a long time, so just getting it out is already a success to me!”

She relies on the publishing company for book promotion and makes announcements across her social medias channels. Fairy in the title refers to the name of her YouTube handle, “and references the magic and whimsy that inspired me to start my channel and creative journey.”

When asked what she means when she says mindful while gardening, baking, and other tasks in the book, she said “To be fully aware of the present moment, and reflect on the joys of simple living and activities as you take part in them. This is countercultural to the fast-paced hectic bustle of most daily routines our society promotes.”

Canadian amateur astrologist releases book

Posted by Elena del Valle on September 14, 2022

Mindfulness Through the Stars
Mindfulness Through the Stars

Photo: Mango Publishing Group

Ashley Flores, who as of this writing has 172,000 subscribers on YouTube, where she posts content as the Amateur Guru, wrote Mindfulness Through the Stars A Zodiac Wellness Guide (Mango Publishing Group, $22.95). The 175-page hardcover book has a 2020 copyright.

The book, her first, is divided into an Introduction, a chapter for each sign of the zodiac as well as a chapter on mindfulness and one on self care. According to her biography the Canadian resident is an amateur astrologist.

When asked about the primary target audience for the book the author replied via email through a Mango representative, “While writing this book, I tried not to have a specific target audience in mind. Of course, I knew a large portion of the people choosing to purchase and read my book would be viewers of my youtube channel. These viewers are typically young adults, of all genders. However, I targeted my book towards people who value personal-development, mindfulness, self-care, and of course astrology lovers! I wanted to cater this book to people who have a basic understanding of zodiac signs, so that they could learn the potential that tuning into their zodiac signs energy can have on aiding them on their self-help journey!”

Regarding the amount of time the project required from idea to publication she said, “Prior to beginning the writing process, I worked closely with Mango to develop an editorial brief, come up with a name, a cover, and of course – a general idea of what the book could be. This process took a few months. I began writing the book in October 2019 and the final draft was submitted early May 2020. It was a much quicker process than I had imagined!”

When asked if she has plans for other titles she said, “Absolutely! I am planning to release a guided journal, as well as a second self-help book. I am also currently working on guided workbooks and worksheets.”

When asked her motivation in writing the book she said, “As a child and young adult, I had always had a passion for writing. I often wrote short stories, poetry, and scripts. It was always a goal of mine to release a book. Eventually, I channeled all of my creative energy into my youtube channel which gained the attention of Mango Publishing. They saw something in me, and presented the idea to me to write a book on Astrology. It all felt very aligned with my passions, and I happily decided to work with them on this book!”

“As a creative person, I have many goals and aspirations,” she said when asked what she hopes to achieve. “A few things I would love to achieve are writing a second book, becoming a life coach, success on both of my youtube channels, and using my platform and endeavours to help change the lives of others around me. I have a passion for helping others understand themselves and their true passions, and would love to see how far I can take that.”

How will she measure success in relation to the book? “If just one person can read my book and say it helped change their life for the better…That is success to me.”

Regarding ways and channels other than her own YouTube videos she uses to promote the book she said, “I promote my book mostly through my TikTok and Instagram, however – I bring it up in real life conversations as often as I can! I live in a big city and meet a lot of people, and always go out of my way to bring up my book as often as possible! People are very supportive and either purchase the book, or recommend it to a friend.”

When asked about the title and the chapter on self care she said, “To me, being mindful is to be intentional and aware. These are forms of self-care to me. Being intentional allows me to make sure that all of my actions are in alignment with who I am and what I want. When I take the time to be intentional, I find that I am able to tune into my higher self with ease. This is important to me because I strive to be the best version of myself daily. When I show up for myself, and others – I want to make sure I am reaching, or close to – my highest potential.”

Subscription streaming service to offer new Japanese miniseries in October

Posted by Elena del Valle on August 31, 2022

On October 4, 2022 plans to offer its first Japanese series, according to a recent press release. Pension Metsa, a six-episode miniseries released in 2021, features Tenko, a Japanese woman who runs a one room country guesthouse in the Nagano larch forest. Nagano is 278 kilometers northwest of Tokyo. provided a screener although no images or video clips were available for editorial publication.

A different brief story unfolds around a guest star in each 20-minute episode. The stories take place in and around the pretty guesthouse and its natural environs. Often there are shared meals and soulful conversations.

Satomi Kobayashi is Tenko. According to Kana Matsumoto is the writer and director of the series. The episodes are in Japanese. English subtitles were added by the streaming service.

Actress Tôko Miura, who played the young chauffeur Misaki in the Oscar-winning feature Drive My Car, appears in Episode 6. offers a streaming subscription service of European series and programs with English subtitles.

Publisher releases science titles for children in Spanish

Posted by Elena del Valle on August 10, 2022

Las mujeres en la química  

Las mujeres en la química and Las mujeres en la física

Photos: Science, Naturally!

Targeting children aged seven to ten with English and Spanish language 37-page and 39-page titles about the sciences Science, Naturally! released Las Mujeres en la química and Las mujeres en la física by Mary Wissinger last year. Danielle Pioli illustrated the titles. The books are translations of Women in Chemistry and Women in Physics originally published by Genius Games LLC in 2016.

Women in Chemistry

Women in Chemistry

Michelle A. Ramirez and The Spanish Group were responsible for translating both titles. Lidia Diaz, Ph.D., and Camilla Hallman are listed as Spanish-language consultants for Las mujeres en la física. Spanish-Milka O. Montes, Ph.D., and Hallman are listed as Spanish-language consultants for the second Spanish language book. All titles have a $12.95 cover price.

Dia Michels

Dia L. Michels, publisher, Science, Naturally!

“We have promoted these books across all of our social media platforms and to our newsletter subscribers,” said Dia L. Michels, publisher, Science, Naturally! via email when asked in what ways and via what channels her company has promoted the titles. “We also reached out to educators, librarians, and STEM programs. And, of course, to the reviewers and customers who already love our other Spanish-language books! They are always excited to hear about new ways to share STEM content with children. We submitted Las mujeres en la química for Empowering Latino Future’s International Latino Book Awards, under the translation category, and it earned an award. We take pride in the amount of effort we put into each of our books to ensure that the translation captures both the content and the feeling of the English editions, so the fact that we can promote these titles by pointing to a translation award is a huge achievement! Empowering Latino Futures also does a bit of promotion for their award-winning authors to help make quality Spanish-language resources easier to find.”

Mary Wissinger, author, Women In Physics

Mary Wissinger, author, Women in Chemistry and Women in Physics

Wissinger was born and grew up in Wisconsin where she dove into storytelling through acting, singing, and writing. A former teacher, according to her biography she can be found at her standing desk in St. Louis, Missouri, “writing stories to inspire curiosity about the world and connection with others.” She is the author of the Science Wide Open Series and the My First Science Textbook Series.

Danielle Pioli, illustrator, Women In Biology

Danielle Pioli, illustrator, Women in Chemistry and Women in Physics

Artist and illustrator Pioli, drawn to magic (what she calls quantum physics now), is on a mission to inspire others to create. According to her biography, “The idea of creating a whole universe from her mind to paper is what made her fall in love with art and storytelling.” She creates art, illustrations, comics, zines, poems, songs, and hypnotherapy sessions. She is the illustrator of the Science Wide Open Series.

Women in Physics

Women in Physics

Three new books in the Science Wide Open series are due out in September 2022: Women in Engineering, Women in Medicine, and Women in Botany. Spanish versions titled Las mujeres en la ingeniería, Las mujeres en la medicina, and Las mujeres en la botánica are expected early next year, according to Michels.

Podcast with Thomas Savidge, research manager, Center for State Fiscal Reform ALEC, about unfunded public pension liabilities by state

Posted by Elena del Valle on July 25, 2022

Thomas Savidge, research manager, Center for State Fiscal Reform at American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC)
Thomas Savidge, research manager, Center for State Fiscal Reform at American Legislative Exchange Council

Photo, report: American Legislative Exchange Council

A podcast interview with Thomas Savidge, research manager, Center for State Fiscal Reform at American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), is available in the Podcast Section of Hispanic Marketing and Public Relations, During the podcast, he discusses unfunded public pension liabilities in the 50 States (see ALEC 2021 35-page report on state pension funds: Unaccountable and Unaffordable) with Elena del Valle, host of the podcast.

Tom researches and writes on state tax and fiscal policy, applying knowledge learned in the classroom and working in the policy world.

To listen to the interview, scroll down and click on the play button below. It is also possible to listen by looking for “Podcast” then select “HMPR Thomas Savidge” and download the MP3 file to your audio player. You can also find it on the RSS feed. To download it, click on the arrow of the recording you wish to copy and save it to disk. The podcast will remain listed in the July 2022 section of the podcast archive.

USPS releases new stamp

Posted by Elena del Valle on July 20, 2022

New USPS mariachi stamps

New U.S.P.S. mariachi stamps

Photos: United States Postal Service

The United States Postal Service (U.S.P.S.) released a new stamp design of mariachis last week. It printed 18 million stamps, the usual average number for a stamp printing, according to a U.S.P.S. spokesperson. Rafael López, a Mexican illustrator who created official posters for the Obama campaign to target Latino voters, was contracted to do the artwork for the stamps.

When asked who selected the theme for the stamps Bill Gicker, director, Stamp Services, U.S.P.S. replied via an intermediary by email, “Subject matter for stamps is evaluated and selected by the Citizens’ Stamp Advisory Committee. The final decision for issuing a stamp resides with the Postmaster General of the United States.”

“Numbers are determined by like sales of past issuances,” he said. “Commemorative stamps are intended to be available for about a year.”

Rafael Lopez
Rafael López designed the new stamps.

When asked what criteria was used to select the artist he replied, “The USPS works with contract art directors who determine the best way to portray particular subjects. They are always on the search new artists, designers and photographers. We have worked with Raphael in the past and the art directed felt his style and experience would be a good selection for this project.”

Regarding the budget for the project overall he said, “There are no specific budgets for stamp projects, but artists receive a standard $5,000 per design for each stamp design.”

“The USPS receives about 30,000 subject submissions per year, but does not accept art submissions,” he said when asked how many art submissions they receive a year.

According to his biography López was commissioned to create twelve United States Postal Stamps including the series of five Mariachi stamps featuring musicians dressed in the traje de charro, playing guitar, guitarrón, vihuela, violin and trumpet. According to his website the illustrator lives and works in San Diego and at his home studio in San Miguel de Allende, Mexico. The U.S.P.S. had worked with him in the past.