Dog Ear Publishing Presents Literary Award to Books Featuring Adventures of Sophie Washington
Two books by author Tonya Duncan Ellis in her Sophie Washington series starring middle school students have earned the Dog Ear Publishing Award of Literary Excellence. Proceeds from her book through Nov. 1 will be given to Hurricane Harvey relief efforts.
“I was happy that the editors enjoyed the work I had spent so much time on and that means so much to me,” Ellis said. “I love my community and am excited to educate others about life here in Texas.”
Ellis, who lives near Houston with her husband, Keith, and their children, described her books as “love letters” to her community. “I feel they accurately portray life in Houston suburbia and present valuable lessons for middle grade children. The books portray a positive African-American family and show a slice of life that isn't always seen, in an entertaining way.”
Once her books are ready, Ellis plans to start a social media campaign and donate proceeds from her books through November 1 to Hurricane Harvey relief. “I feel this is fitting since my books deal with youth living in the Houston area,” she said. “It would be great if Sophie Washington could be part of the rebuilding effort.”
Dog Ear Publishing Award of Literary Excellence winners are determined by the company’s editorial team. The managing editor, editorial services manager and the publisher review its recommendations. Winning books include the award logo on their covers.
Dog Ear editors called Ellis’ books “funny, touching, true to life and family oriented. Sophie always gets herself into some kind of trouble as she grows, something we have all experienced, and she learns a lesson in the end.”
Ellis said local librarians also are responding positively to the series, which targets children 8 to 12 or 13 years old. “My books have been placed in a local library as part of an accelerated reader program, and the head librarian said she liked how the books presented an African-American family in situations that didn't involve tragedy, a broken family or living in an inner city.” The other books in the series are “Sophie Washington: Queen of the Bee” and “Sophie Washington: The Snitch.”
She said her books present “typical middle school issues like dealing with bullies, managing social media and video games, fitting in and handling peer pressure and that first crush, with a Texas twist. Sophie and her diverse group of friends live in the suburbs of Houston, and experience hurricanes, alligators in their neighborhoods, rodeo muttin’ bustin’ and wild boar, opening up an exciting new world to readers. Each book teaches valuable lessons about friendship, responsibility, perseverance, and being truthful that children of all ages and backgrounds can relate to.”
As the mother of three children from middle school to high school, Ellis knows the issues they face, which inspired her to write the books. She also wanted to write about the topics from a Texas perspective. “I felt like the life here in Houston suburbia is truly unique and would be of interest to young readers. I haven't seen any books highlighting this area in this way.”
The author will participate in the National Black Book Festival at Fallbrook Church in Houston from Oct. 26 to 29. She plans to put her books on shelves at Blue Willow Bookstore in Houston as well as some other local bookstores and online. She’s already planning her next book in the series: “Sophie Washington: Hurricane,” which she described as “another thrilling adventure with a positive lesson to learn for young readers.”
In addition to being a freelance writer for a magazine publisher, Ellis is a Realtor. “The main challenge I had in writing the books was finding time in the day,” she said. “This generally involved waking up in the wee hours or working later in the evenings or during downtime after I transported my children to activities.
She praised the expertise of Dog Ear Publishing staff in producing her book.
“It's been exciting to see each piece of the work come together, kind of like giving birth! While the second two award-winning books were being published, I was also updating illustrations on my first two books, so I had four projects going on at the same time. I am grateful for the patience the staff showed with me as we work to create a finished product I can be proud of.”
For additional information, please visit www.TonyaEllisBooks.com.
Sophie Washington: Things You Didn’t Know About Sophie
Tonya Duncan Ellis
Dog Ear Publishing
ISBN: 978-1-4575-5709-5 104 pages $9.99 US
Available at Ingram, Amazon.com, Barnes & Noble and fine bookstores everywhere.
Dog Ear Publishing partners with authors to shape content that resonates with readers as diverse as the books we publish. Our mission is to leverage expertise, technology and relationships to form a meaningful and lasting bond between creators, content and culture as a whole. Dog Ear Publishing is headquartered in Indianapolis, Indiana, and can be contacted by phone at (317) 228-3656 or through our website, www.dogearpublishing.net.