Author, Teacher, Psychologist and Speaker


Posted by on Mar 6, 2013 in Blog, Featured, Writing Wednesday | 10 comments



Do you feel orange? Purple? Yellow?

Would you describe the way you feel using the weather? A piece of fruit? A prehistoric lizard?

If you could change your mood with the swipe of your hand as if drawing the curtains on a horrible bad day  – wouldn’t it be grand?

In MY COLD PLUM LEMON PIE BLUESY MOOD young Jamie “eases into a green feeling like a dragon dancing through a jungle made of green Jell-O” with a crayon in his hand.




Tameka Fryer Brown is the author of MY COLD PLUM LEMON PIE BLUESY MOOD, illustrated by Shane W. Evans (Viking/Penguin), which will be available nationwide tomorrow March 7, 2013. Born in Miami FL, Tameka now resides in Charlotte, North Carolina. Growing up, she dreamed of becoming a lawyer. When she got to college, she changed her mind and pursued a business degree, graduating summa cum laude. Her first job was as a medical sales representative, supplying surgical supplies to hospitals – a job she thought was “cool” because she got to observe surgical procedures. Since that first career, Tameka has primarily worked with children of all ages in many different capacities. She has been a Sunday School Teacher and a youth Counselor, a Montessori School Teacher Assistant, and a mother.


tameka on bench


I am delighted to feature Tameka as my guest today. Congratulations on the success of AROUND OUR WAY ON NEIGHBORS’ DAY and on the release of MY COLD PLUM LEMON PIE BLUESY MOOD. Thank you, Tameka, for appearing here, answering my questions, and allowing the readers to become better acquainted with you and your work.

Tameka, are you a full time writer?

No. I’m a full time mom who writes. But my kids are older now and in school, so I’m able to carve out fairly long writing blocks when I’m on a creative roll.

When did you first know that was what you wanted to do?

I was on the couch reading a picture book to my youngest daughter when the thought occurred to me, I could do this. I could write books like these. Having been a stay at home mother for 8 or so years, I was ready to do something more; something that was cerebral and just for me. In writing stories for children, I found that something.

How long have you been writing?

I decided I wanted to be a children’s book writer in the spring of 2005. I joined SCBWI in November of that year and I’ve been moving full steam ahead since then.

How has your Montessori classroom experience helped you with your writing?

That was a meaningful experience that continues to inform my writing today.

I am a fierce believer in the Montessori philosophy of education, particularly the idea of educating the whole child. In my stories, I try to advance the concepts of community, individuality, respect for self and others, and “using your words” to express emotions of all kinds—each of which is at the core of Montessori’s social education.

Why did you choose to write for children/young adults?

To write something meaningful, you have to have something to say. For some reason, the things I have to say are geared toward young people. Maybe it’s because little-girl me is still very much alive and needs to read these words as much as any other child.


tameka kid closeup


How many hours a day do you devote to writing?

It varies. I’m not a writer who sits down and forces myself to write, at least not routinely. I don’t tend to produce my best stories that way. I do devote a lot of time to mulling. I mull ideas all the time. Once something strikes my fancy as a great idea, then I start writing. Mulling is definitely a part of my creative process.

Do you have a special place and time to write? Set the mood for us.

Have computer, will write. It doesn’t really matter where, as long as it is very quiet… usually a place where I can be alone.


Writing Space


Who, or what, inspires you?

My kids inspire me. Little-girl me inspires me. My grandmother inspires me. Although my granny is no longer with me, aspects of her have found their way into the majority of the stories I’ve written. Reading phenomenal literature also inspires me.

How do you get your ideas?

Thoughts, dreams, people watching, TV shows…observing and reflecting on life provides continual material.

Do you draw mostly from personal experiences?

For the most part I do—things I’ve either experienced or observed.

Do you do a lot of research?

Only as much as is required to be sure I’m accurate.  I’m not one of those people who gets lost in their research. It’s never been something I loved to do.

Your first book is AROUND OUR WAY ON NEIGHBORS’ DAY. According to Booklist it is about “[A]n African American girl [who] bounces around her urban neighborhood celebrating Neighbors’ Day…happily surrounded by a multicultural crowd.”

Is this an accurate description? What inspired you to write a book about a neighborhood?

I think it’s an accurate assessment. I always describe AROUND OUR WAY as a love story between a young girl and her close-knit, multicultural neighborhood. The idea for this book first came to me during that twilight phase between sleep and wakefulness. Before I ever opened my eyes, I had the rhyme scheme established and the first paragraph written. Since it was an ABC book initially, the format obviously changed, but the essence of the story—a tour of a young girl’s neighborhood filled with diverse friends, family, and a strong sense of community—remained the same.

Is it reminiscent of the neighborhood where you grew up?

Kind of. Miami itself is extremely diverse and at school I had friends from various cultures. I don’t remember participating in block parties, but my granny’s house was the place for every holiday meal, so I did grow up with lots celebrations full of delicious food and extended family. It was at my great-grandmother’s apartment complex that we were able to roam around outside, walk to the corner store, etc. I suppose the neighborhood in AROUND OUR WAY is a combination of all three…my vision of a neighborhood utopia.




Tell us about your new book, MY COLD PLUM LEMON PIE BLUESY MOOD?

Jamie (the main character) describes his day’s emotional journey through the metaphor of color. He starts out in a purple, “cold-plum eating” kind of mood, but is soon ushered into a gray “storm brewing inside” kind of place by his rude and pushy older brothers. While readers witness Jamie’s colorful attempts to get back to his original mellow mood, they’re also inspired to find new, interesting ways to describe their own feelings.

How did you develop the concept for this book?

The first line of the book came to me as I was reflecting on my own emotional state one day. I thought to myself, “Boy, I’m in a mood.” My writer’s mind took note of the phrase, and I determined that I’m in a mood would be a great title or first line for a picture book.

How did you choose the color-mood associations?

I’m not really sure. I love bright colors—they make me feel so alive.  I guess it just felt right.

What projects are you working on now?

I’m actively working on another picture book project, and mulling over a couple of novel ideas.

Tell us about The Brown Bookshelf. How it go started, the purpose, the mission, the effect that its existence has on our young readers.


The Brown Bookshelf


The Brown Bookshelf is an online resource that brings awareness to African-American authors and illustrators of children’s books. Our flagship initiative is 28 Days Later, which takes place during the month of February. During 28DL, we highlight those artists that are either new on the scene or established and making contributions to kidlit, but not receiving the recognition we feel they should. The founding members were Paula Chase-Hyman, Varian Johnson, Kelly Starling-Lyons, Don Tate, and Carla Sarratt. In addition to Paula, Varian, Kelly and Don, the BBS now includes Olugbemisola Rhuday-Perkovich, Crystal Allen, Gwendolyn Hooks and myself.

I’ve been a member since the end of 2009 and it’s one of the most rewarding things I’ve been part of as a writer. Our service is important because ALL young readers need to be presented with multicultural reading material as standard fare, and it’s our goal to make people (especially librarians and other gatekeepers) aware that it exists.

Where can we purchase your books?

MY COLD PLUM LEMON PIE BLUESY MOOD ~ Coming March 2013 from Viking/Penguin

AROUND OUR WAY ON NEIGHBORS’ DAY ~ Available at online booksellers everywhere

Currently, they can be purchased at Barnes and Noble. They can also be ordered in person at any bookstore, or at any online bookseller, including:

Barnes and Noble

Tameka’s connections:





Once again thank you and congratulations, Tameka! I wish you much success with MY COLD PLUM, LEMON PIE, BLUESY MOOD.



Tameka at Barnes and Noble

Tameka at Barnes and Noble




Join the conversation and post a comment.

  1. Becky

    Wonderful, wonderful post, Ann! I enjoyed reading this interview, and can’t wait to read Tameka’s new book! Thanks so much for a great interview!

  2. Marilee Haynes

    Wow – simply a terrific interview, Ann. I loved reading about Tameka’s writing process as well as learning more about this new book!

    • Ann Eisenstein

      Thanks, Marilee. I am happy you enjoyed the interview. Tameka is a fascinating woman and a great author. MY COLD PLUM LEMON PIE BLUESY MOOD will be a great addtition to our libraries.

  3. susan waites

    ann,nice job and thanks for introducing me to this author!

  4. tameka fryer brown

    I, too, thank you for a wonderful interview, Ann! It was a real pleasure. 😀

  5. Joan Y. Edwards

    Dear Ann and Tameka,
    Thank you both for doing this interview so that we can learn more wonderful reasons to be proud to know both of you. I admire you both. I can get in some moods myself. I look forward to reading your new book, Tameka.


  1. I’m on a Book Tour – Tameka Fryer Brown - […] 3. Wednesday March 6:       Ann Eisenstein, Author Blog […]

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