Posted by: Kathy Temean | October 29, 2020

Book Giveaway: A HORN IS BORN by Bill Borders

Bill Border has a new picture book, A HORN IS BORN, illustrated by Melizza Chernov and published by Blue Wale Press. Bill has agreed to share a copy of the book to one lucky winner. All you have to do to get in the running is leave a comment. Reblog, tweet, or talk about it on Facebook with a link and you will get additional chances to win. Just let me know the other things you do to share the good news, so I can put in the right amount of tickets in my basket for you.

Sharing on Facebook, Twitter, reblogging really helps spread the word for a new book. Thanks for helping Bill and Melizza!

If you have signed up to follow my blog and it is delivered to you everyday, please let me know when you leave a comment and I will give you an extra ticket. Thanks!


“I can’t think of a better way to introduce a young reader to the magic of music and tempt them to discover, like Old Shoehorn, where their musical talents may lie. The story is beautifully told, and the illustrations bring life to everything imagined.” — Jack Magnus for Readers’ Favorite

” . . . an excellent teaching tool for introducing different instruments to children. The theme of bullying is also well represented, as it shows to young readers how looking down on others is not only unacceptable: it shows that there may come a time when that bullied individual is needed to help save the day” — Bruce Arrington for Readers’ Favorite

Surrounded by the hustle and bustle of musicians in a backstage room, Shoehorn has nothing to do but slide stocking feet into shoes and life is dull. But he knows he is destined for something greater-something that will rival the group’s trio of bullies: Trumpet, Trombone, and Flute. Shoehorn takes their bullying in stride and refuses to let those blowhards dent his pride. He waits patiently for his big break until one day, with a twist of fate, Shoehorn saves the day and shines brighter than the best-in-the-band.


I used to be in advertising. Worked my way up from copywriter to creative director to partnering in my own creative agency in the Pacific Northwest.

I find lots of similarities between a great ad and a great picture book. Both hinge on a fresh idea. Both rely on the interplay of words and visuals to complete the message. Both tug at the heart more than the head. And both seem much easier to do than they actually are.

But there are differences too. A major ad campaign is often concepted, written and produced in two or three months. (Sometimes two or three weeks!) The publishing world moves at a little slower from start to finish; like two or three years.

That was one of many hard truths I had to learn on the way to seeing A HORN IS BORN come to life.

Another was finding myself to be a minority for once. This is an industry where women are the prevalent force and women of color are, deservedly and finally, in demand. This is NOT a complaint, just an observation. In fact, it’s refreshing. And probably explains why the kid lit world is more collaborative while the ad world is more competitive. Yay for estrogen!

But here I am, an old white guy. From hotshot creative director to know-nothing novice. It was humbling. Still is.

But I kept studying the craft. I read books about writing books. I took workshops and webinars. I wrote many dead ends. I imposed heavily on picture book guru and former employee, Matt Myers, as well as his talented editor wife, Maya. I teamed with critique groups. And, of course, I joined SCBWI, CBI and 12 X 12. All provide generous doses of information, inspiration and emotional elevation.


Meanwhile, every morning as I got dressed, I’d see this old, longish shoehorn hanging in my closet; something I somehow ended up with from my father. I wondered why it was called a “horn” at all. Eventually I decided there might be a story in that somewhere and started writing.

Two and a half years ago, I posted an early draft of “This Horn Can’t Toot” on 12 X 12’s very cool Full Manuscript Forum where, lo and behold, one of their roving Critique Ninja’s read it. That was Alayne Christian–a noted picture book author herself.

Thanks to her ability to sniff the slightest of potential, she reached out to me. And the process of revising, re-writing, re-polishing and re-re-re-tweaking began. To complicate matters, Shoehorn is written in verse. If I never write another rhymer that’d be fine by me. But Shoehorn lives in a musical world so, begrudgingly, it felt like the rhythm of rhyme was almost mandatory.

The process was bumpy. Alayne and I even recruited Kimberly Norman, a very accomplished picture book author to play “rhyme cop” and help administer poetic justice. With her help we managed to keep most of Shoehorn’s meter feet straight and wrestled the trochees and iambs into submission. But not without considerable stressing over stressed and unstressed syllables.

Then Alayne, as editor at Blue Whale Press (an imprint of Clearfork Publishing) graciously involved me in the crucial illustrator selection process. We reviewed many cool portfolios and finally mutually agreed on our first choice. I’d describe his style as “cute but not cutesy.” Which I warm to.

He went to work. Doing character sketches and storyboards for about four months. And then, bam, he withdrew from the project. We were back to, well, the drawing board.

What seemed like a huge setback turned out to be a major blessing. It lead us to Melizza Chernov, with her own cute but not cutesy way–even a little edgy.

So Melizza went to work. More character sketches, more storyboards, more back and forth comments. And–much like Shoehorn–she hung in there. Even though she was thrown off course by some of life’s tougher cross winds during the long process.

But now, some two and half years later, A HORN IS BORN is born. And thanks to Melizza’s extraordinary talent, it’s one beautiful baby. And I say that, of course, as a totally objective father.

AHIB is a little unusual for a children’s book: no kids, no animals, no heavy equipment. Just an old fashioned, long-handled shoehorn who’s hung around a band’s dressing room for years, putting feet into shoes while putting up with taunts from all the “real horns.” Yes, it’s a tale about music and instruments but it’s also about bullying and bearing up under it.

Early reviews have been extremely flattering. You never know. Sure, I think our baby’s one in a million, but what will the cold, hard world think? So far, so great.

One of my favorite quotes is this from Readers’ Favorite: I can’t think of a better way to introduce a young reader to the magic of music and tempt them to discover, like Old Shoehorn, where their musical talents may lie.

Someone way more experienced than I told me the real work begins if & when you get a book published. Boy, is that ever true. Between review submissions, social media fanning, publicity pandering, school and library trolling, it’s a hectic time. Again, not complaining! It definitely beats not being published.

My hope now is to find the right agent who might help me give birth to some other unusual stories I’m laboring with. Which I suspect, as an old white dude, may not be all that easy. But, like Shoehorn, I’ll hang in there.


Author, Bill Borders

A former ad creative director, Bill has shifted to children’s literature and moved to the woods of North Idaho. He must have rather fat heels because he owns several shoehorns, one of which inspired this book.

Born in Tulsa, Oklahoma but raised in Southern California, Bill Borders received his B.S. Degree in Marketing from Cal State University of Northridge just when advertising was becoming cool as a part-business/part-creative craft. He first put his degree to work at a small ad agency in Hollywood before moving on and up to other agencies as copywriter then creative director. One morning an earthquake fractured his house, as well his fondness for California, and he moved to greener pastures in Oregon. He eventually co-founded Borders, Perrin and Norrander, a creative-focused agency that earned national acclaim. It also helped him earn an honor by Communication Arts magazine as “One of the Top 50 Creative Directors in America.” He eventually sold the company he helped start and moved to Lake Pend Oreille, Idaho where he could focus on writing lyrics, screenplays, cartoons, and children’s books. Besides writing, Bill enjoys photography, motorcycling, working out, playing guitar, and traveling.

Learn more about him than you probably want to know at:


Melizza Chernov graduated with a Bachelor of Fine Arts, Illustration from Rhode Island School of Design.  After graduating, an opportunity to live in a small cabin  with no running water, heat, or electricity, on ten acres of land in the New Mexico desert presented itself.  You might ask, who could say no to that kind of adventure? Or, if you’re a reasonable person, you might not.

Nevertheless, It was the beginning of a long and wondrous education about the natural world that she continues to pursue.  The shapes, colors, movement and flow of nature strongly influence Melizza’s work as an illustrator.  A deep and abiding desire to tell a tale visually has traveled with her through many adventures.

Presently, she lives in a small Massachusetts coastal town surrounded by farms and wildlife reserves which she visits regularly. You can see more about that on her Instagram and Facebook pages. In addition to writing and illustrating stories, Melizza teaches small children how to make great big artistic messes (and they teach her the same thing in return) .

Bill, thank you for sharing your book and journey with us. It’s amazing how an old shoehorn in your closet could inspire you to write a book about bullying and making more of yourself. Melizza did a good job in bring the rhythm of the story to life with her illustrations. Good luck with the book!

Talk tomorrow,



  1. I feel excited for you both, Bill and Melissa. I’m a big fan of inanimate objects coming to life. Can’t wait to read!


  2. Congrats, Bill and Melissa. Having just gone through the debut process I know the elation of finally seeing the birth of your book! It sounds like a rollicking fun read.


  3. I love it! Unexpected and delightful. 🙂 I enjoyed the interview. Thanks for sharing with us. Congratulations to both of you!

    I will Tweet this and I follow by email. 🙂


  4. I don’t mind tooting their horn — this looks like a fabulous book! I am a newsletter subscriber 🙂


  5. Bravo, Bill & Melizza! Sounds like music to my ears. (I RTed and I’m subscribed to email updates.)


  6. Love this concept and the story of how it came to be. I tweeted and shared on FB.


  7. Congratulations, Bill and Melizza! Thanks for sharing your book journey. Now I know why it’s called a shoe horn!

    Kathy, I shared on twitter and receive your blog daily.


  8. Great title, illustrations and story! A winner is born! Congrats!


  9. Congratulations on your book! It looks wonderful and I can’t wait to read it! Melizza is one of my favorite illustrators!


  10. Wow. This looks like a terrific book. Thanks for telling me about it.


  11. Way to think outside of the box!!! This looks wonderful, with an unusual story and exciting art! Congratulations!


  12. It was a long journey, Bill. But well worth the wait. I’m so proud to have been a part of it. CONGRATULATIONS to you and Melizza!


  13. I hope I’m not too late to this party. I love the title and the book journey. Just shared on Pinterest, Twitter, and FB and yes, I receive your updates. What a cool idea for a book! Glad you hung in there, Bill.


  14. Been hunting this book down…It’s not in stock on any Australian book website and not in stores. I am dying to lay my hands on it! Thanks for your article – the only place I’ve seen a few illustrations from it. Wonderful!


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