Creating Young Writers — Interviewing Young Michigan Authors

MRA.jpgOn March 20, 2016 about 9:30 am, I invited myself to interview a special group of authors. These authors had been selected to be part of a publication headed by an organization that promotes literacy in the Great Lakes state. I had no idea what to expect when I went there. But I was looking forward to finding out.



Sunday morning turned out to be one of those days where you think summer was going to rear her head early. Instead of going to church that day, I headed to the center of downtown Detroit. The streets, normally full of traffic during the weekdays, were empty so it was a  breeze getting to where I needed to go. I was feeling pretty excited. After all , this would be my first event I’d ever done in my capacity as a radio host. Would it go okay?

I found a parking garage and paid my ten dollar fee (if I ever stop writing, maybe I’ll open a parking garage in the D) and headed up the clean, cement garage and to the elevator.

Cobo Center

Image courtesy of

Anyone whose a Detroiter knows about Cobo Hall (I know it’s Cobo Center now, but I remember it as Cobo Hall) and how big it is. Many years ago on a junior high school field trip, I met the architect who designed Cobo Hall. Let me tell you, that place is massive. It’s a city within a city.  It was the first place where Cadillac set his foot, claiming the forested area for France,  thus beginning the French period of Detroit. Fascinating history if you want to look up the history of Detroit. There are always events, both great and small going on there. In fact, on that day, there was a dinosaur exhibit going on.  Cobo Center also hosts the North American International Auto Show every year.

About fifteen minutes later, I found the location where I’m to set up with the help of the employees who know how to navigate the building. When I arrived, I saw a group of ladies milling about and soon came to meet the three women I’d be most grateful for — Jamie, who is a student volunteer, the committee chair, Karen Amrell, and Laura Guzman.

With Jamie’s help, I was able to get set up at the table. Looking back on it, I’d wish I had show swag to decorate the table with. But in my mind, I didn’t want it to be about self-promotion but an event focused on young authors who did what some adults can’t do–finish a creative work and see it published.

My father-in-law came to take pictures of the event. There was a moment of hilarity when he called me on his cell phone and say, “I’m lost. Where are you?” my father-in-law has an innate sense of direction. I’m the one who gets lost in a closet. But I digress.

IMG_4259 The concept behind Kaleidoscope, the publication of the Michigan Reading Association (MRA) is this — honor students who have written with getting their work published. It’s a simple idea but it packs a lot behind it. As a writer myself, I know how it feels to have my work published. Karen Amrell, the committee chair of the event made the statement, “Getting recognition for your work is a wonderful encouragement.” And she’s right.

Each year the MRA works to help promote literacy. When I talked to a couple of the staff persons before the event, I was shocked to find out how rampant illiteracy is. According to this site, 47% of metro Detroiters are reportedly functional illiterate, with the state level of functional illiteracy at 18%. Frightening to say the least.

With the Kaleidoscope publication, I saw the driving force behind it — teachers, working alongside parents, to encourage literacy. No one should just get by in life — they should take it by the horns. Being able to read for work, education, or for pleasure, opens up the mind’s playing field of possibilities. It’s empowerment.



IMG_4277 IMG_4302 IMG_4317 IMG_4329 IMG_4380 IMG_4414Around 10:15, the first of the authors with their parents came. The show was about to begin. I was nervous as I hadn’t been in a while when doing my show. After all, these are kids much more smarter than me that I was interviewing. But I was so happy to be a part of their writing career in some way.  We took pictures of the child, first with the Kaleidoscope frame by themselves and the one with me.  Then they came around the table and I clipped the tiny microphone on them.  With each child, I talked to them, asking them what grade they were in, what prompted them to write the piece, and how did they feel once they got word they were published.

Just like the children themselves, there were a variety of poems and stories. Science fiction, fantasy, slice of life,  and more.  One sci-fi story dealt with a planet that provided yo-yo’s to Earth. Another talked about a Batman suit his Grammy gave him. One child wrote down a story about all of his fears from when he was four and five years old. Then there’s the one about the turkey disguising itself as a biker.

It was great getting into their minds and speaking about their work. What author doesn’t like to talk about their stories? I know I do! And here I was able to give them the opportunity to do the same.



After all the interviews were completed, I sat back and thought about the common thread with everyone I’d spoken to that day. Boy and girl, grade differences, life experiences, all of them had a common thread. And it wasn’t the gift of writing although each of them had it. It was those behind the scenes — the parents and teachers who worked with each writer, encouraging, nurturing, correcting, and always pushing them to develop the talent. That was the common thread. Writers may be born but they also have to be nurtured with the same dedication a gardener would to a tender, young plant.

At the end of each interview, I gave the parents my card and told them all,  “If he or she ever publishes again, I’d love to have them on my show.”  If there were siblings lingering with the parents, I invited them as well.  After all, writers do run in the family.

I hope one day to get that email or that call that says, “Hey Parker, I just finished my next book. Can I be on the show?”

To listen to the podcast of these amazing authors,click here.

To see the slideshow of all participants interviewed, click here.




The Parker J Cole Show — Relationship Month: Parent & Child with Yvette Allen-Tatum

Parker J Cole BannerPeople make the world go around. That’s a fact. Without people, we really would be a ‘pale blue ball’ like Sagan once said. How we interact with each other helps to build families, communities, and cultures. All this month on the Parker J Cole show, we will be discussing relationships — from husband and wives to friends and siblings. Each week, our commentary will focus on particular aspect of the relational wheel.

This week on the show, we’ll be discussing the dynamics of the parent child relatonship. The modern take on family has changed drastically. Blended families, grandparents raising grandchildren, single parenthood — they now make a percentage of familes once dominated by a mother, father, and children all naturally born to each other.

What does the Bible say about the parent — child relationship? How do we work under this modern dynamic? Join me for an insightful discussion with Minster Yvette Allen Tatum as we expand on this topic. Call in at 646-668-8485, press 1 to be live on air. Or, you can download the Stitcher app and follow us there.  Click on the link here: Tune in!

The Parker J Cole Show — Packages of Hope

  • PARKER J COLE BANNEROn the average, 36 children and adolescents are diagnosed with cancer everyday in the United States.
  • On the average, one in every four elementary schools has a child with cancer. The average high school has two students who are current or former cancer patients.
  • Cancer is the leading cause of death by disease in children under the age of 15 in the United States.
  • Childhood cancers affect more potential patient-years of life than any other cancer except breast and lung cancer.
  • The causes of most childhood cancers are unknown. At present, childhood cancer cannot be prevented.

Packages of Hope sends packages of gifts and toys to children of all ages across the United States who are battling cancer. Our packages are full of love and hope and are sent directly to the children in an effort to bring a smile to their face.  Our goal is to provide them with comfort and fun during the challenging times that they face.

Join me for this edition of the Parker J Cole show as talk with Mikayla Vickers about her organization, childhood cancer, and what you can do to help.  You can call in at 646-595-2083, press 1 to be live on air. Or, you can click on the link here: Or, you can download the app. Tune in!

The Parker J Cole Show **SPECIAL EDITION OF THE WRITE STUFF** Spellbound: Paranormal Seduction with Marcia Montenegro


What is it about the paranormal that appeals to us? Those things that go bump in the night? Those brushes of unexplained cold air? What about waking up suddenly and sensing something is there although you can’t see it? How about stories of haunted houses and lingering spirts? What about footage of the unexplainable?

In some way we are spellbound by paranormal seduction. The movie, Paranormal Activity exploits our fascination with the unexplainable and titillates with our ‘what happens when we close our eyes’? Movies like The Exocerist get deeper into the happenings of the spirtual realm. As adults, we watch these movies and we think on them. Perhaps we make decisions to go in deeper.

However, there is an underlying sense of the occult in this paranormal seduction that whispers to us via books, movies, shows, or games. If it is strong enough to seduce the mature, adult brain, what about our children? How does this occultic seduction affect them?

Join me as we talk about this issue with Marcia Montenegro. She is the author of the book Spellbound: The Paranormal Seduction of Today’s Kids. The book’s information comes from Marcia’s many years of participation in New Age, Eastern, and occult beliefs; her practice as a professional astrologer for 8 of those years, including teaching astrology; extensive reading and research of New Age and occult materials; and experiences and contacts she had in the New Age/occult community for over 15 years. Additionally, since becoming a Christian, Marcia’s knowledge in these areas has been supplemented by her contacts, reading, and research through her ministry, CANA/Christian Answers for the New Age.

Call 646-595-2083 to listen in.  You can click the link here: Or, you can download the WLUV radio mobile app on your mobile device. Tune in.