Interview with Authors Dr. Terri Howard-Hughes & Clint Hughes – Ramona Portelli Blog

Interview with Authors Dr. Terri Howard-Hughes & Clint Hughes

Dr. Terri Howard-Hughes:  I was born in Dallas, Texas. My father was a war correspondent and information officer for General Clay post-WWII Berlin. He covered the Nuremberg trials for Esquire magazine and wrote 35 novels and screenplays. I followed in my father’s footsteps, getting my bachelors (journalism) and master’s (radio/TV) degrees from Southern Methodist University, graduating at the top of my class. I went on to receive my Ph.D. from The University of Texas at Dallas in Art, Technology and Emerging Communications.

I worked as a newspaper reporter and assistant producer on the TV show Today’s Family, which covered all aspects of raising children. I wrote, directed, produced and edited an award-winning informational video for ITIP – Infant and Toddler Intervention Program. ITIP is an organization that designs special programs to address the educational and developmental needs of very young children with disabilities. I also produced videos for the Rise School which exists to give the highest quality of early education services to children ages six months to six years with and without disabilities in an inclusive environment.

I have had my company, Mediaforce Productions, since 2001, producing hundreds of corporate videos, short films, and documentaries. I use my storytelling expertise from video scripts to write these books for children. I have won 36 international and national awards for my writing, editing, and video production.

Clint Hughes: I was a transformative marketing and growth executive for companies around the world for over 30 years, from expanding DirecTV across the country to setting sales records on QVC selling The Tornado in the U.S., Canada, and Europe. I have performed as a stand-up comedian, been a feature player in Hollywood movies, and been the Master of Ceremonies at hundreds of live events across America. Last year I “retired to” writing children’s books with Terri. I can relate to our characters because I was born with both feet pointed out to the side instead of straight ahead. I had to wear metal rods to turn my legs correctly in my hips. I was also a chubby kid with glasses through grade school giving me “real world” experiences to draw from for the Doctor Owlkin and The H.O.M.E. Team book series.

Now “retired” and acting as CEO and CMO (Chief Motivation Officer) for Help Or Motivate Everybody, I am devoted to raising the self-esteem and confidence of children with disabilities (or “differences”) and teaching other children acceptance and inclusion of those with differences or disabilities.

Tell me more about your four published children’s books?

Our Mission: The Doctor Owlkin book series wants to raise the self-esteem and confidence of children with special needs, disabilities, or differences and teach other children acceptance and inclusion of those with differences or disabilities. Even though others may be “different,” we find that inside everybody just wants to be loved, encouraged, accepted, appreciated, and included!  

As Doctor Owlkin always reminds the team, “It doesn’t matter what you look like on the outside, it’s WHOOOOOO you are on the inside that matters most!”

Doctor Owlkin, the members of The H.O.M.E. Team, and the animal characters in the books become the heroes who find a way to make their diversity or differences an attribute or advantage. The H.O.M.E. Team is led by wise old Doctor Owlkin and loving Nurse Sharky, who bring together their helpers. The first four books in the series tell the amazing stories of each of the helpers. The H.O.M.E. Team includes Trouble, a Bloodhound who was born with extraordinarily long and useful ears; King Tux, a tiny cat who has a BIG personality and smarts; Pirate, a lop-eared rabbit with only one eye who sees the world in a unique way; and Goldie, a Golden Retriever who was born with 3 ½ legs but doesn’t let that stop her from being a hero. Each of these characters has adapted and developed special skills – their “superpowers” – that allow them to uplift and encourage others to be the best they can be, despite their differences!

What was the most challenging aspect of writing these books?

One of the most challenging aspects of writing these children’s books is taking real life stories of families where the children have special needs or disabilities anddeveloping a “kid friendly” educational story using adorable animal characters.

What is your normal procedure to get your books published?

We were going to India to get the books printed but the lag time and logistics proved cumbersome. Now we just use Amazon to print, sell and distribute the books.

How important are the elements of character, setting, and atmosphere to a story, and why?

It is important to have situational excitement at the beginning of the story to grab the child’s attention – then have a positive example conclusion to make a lasting positive impression on the child. The characters need to be relatable and adorable. The setting is in Hopeville, which is appropriate for our mission.

How many books have you written so far?

Doctor Owlkin and The H.O.M.E. Team

Celebrating Our Differences and Diversity with Inclusion

Book 1 – Trouble

Book 2 – King Tux

Book 3 – Pirate

Book 4 – Goldie

Soon to come

Book 5 – Buddy Bear

Book 6 – KC Koala

What’s the best way to market your books?

Social media “word of mouth” where people share with their friends about the books.

Media coverage like what you are providing us.

Amazon paid ads.

Facebook paid ads.

What is your writing routine?

We talk about the concept for a while and then write the first rough draft. Then we revise and revise until we are between 1,500 to 2,000 words. Then we run it by our editor and a Child Life Specialist for revision and accuracy. Once we have it like we want it, we send it to our illustrator with suggestions on what the pictures should include. Toward the end of the process, our illustrator inserts “hidden” hearts into the pictures. This has been VERY popular with our fans!

How hard or easy is it to establish and maintain a career in writing?

This has been on our hearts for over 20 years. While we both have a B.A. in Journalism (and additional advanced degrees) we have had careers other than being a professional writer. Now that we are retired, we have the time and resources to pursue this dream. It takes time and dedication to build a fan base to establish and maintain a writing career.

What is your advice for aspiring writers?

Everyone has an idea for a book; few write one. It is better to try it now than look back 10 years from now and say, “We should have…”

Be clear on your target market and your message. We want to encourage children to be inclusive and accepting at an early age as they start to socialize and before “cliques” are formed.

Try to involve others that share your beliefs. That is why we are supporting Scottish Rite for Children Hospital and St. Jude’s.

Research what is already out there and find your niche. We researched and found there IS a need for a series like this.

Work and re-work the recipe before you start cooking! We bounce our ideas back and forth as we walk around the neighborhood or are out for a drive – THEN we write it down and re-work it some more.

Visit Authors Dr. Terri Howard-Hughes & Clint Hughes book links:-

The Doctor Owlkin website –

Book 1 – Trouble

Book 2 – King Tux

Book 3 – Pirate

Book 4 – Goldie

Facebook –

YouTube –

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