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Viewing: Blog Posts Tagged with: author interviews, Most Recent at Top [Help]
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1. Interview with Kristi Helvig, Author of Burn Out

kristi

Writer Kristi Helvig makes her authorial debut with her young adult sci-fi novel “Burn Out” (Egmont USA) in spring 2014.

Helvig was born in North Carolina and grew up in Delaware. She holds a Ph.D. in clinical psychology from Nova Southeastern University in Davie, Fla. She has spent her career in Colorado as a successful clinical psychologist and life coach. She regularly gives lectures
as a professional psychologist and visits schools where she talks with students about books and publishing.

Helvig has contributed as a guest blogger at LiteraryRambles.com and keeps her own blog updated with musings about “Star Trek,” space monkeys, books and other assorted topics.

The geek-for-science-fiction lives outside of Denver, Colo., with her husband of 17 years, two children and their behaviorally challenged dogs. In her spare time, Helvig practices yoga, hikes and loves trying new wines.

Visit Kristi online at http://www.kristihelvig.com/

How did you research the true science involved in “Burn Out?”

Google is a writer’s best friend and I always start there, but it can only take you so far. I watched a lot of documentaries on NatGeo, Science Channel, etc. and then contacted an astrophysics department at a large university. Nothing beats talking to experts in the field, and I was flattered that they took time out of their busy schedules to help me.

As you were learning about these scientific concepts, was there anything that surprised you?

I learned that sending all the world’s nuclear weapons into the sun wouldn’t cause it to burn out. Who knew? Finding a plausible way for the sun to burn out early was challenging, and where I definitely relied on assistance from astrophysicists.

Tell us about the themes you explored in the book and what you hope they mean to readers.

Trust is a huge theme throughout the book, as well as how to move forward after devastating losses. Weapons also play a big role in the book. New technology in my main character’s world has allowed for smarter, more lethal guns and she struggles with their impact on Earth’s remaining survivors.

Did your work as a clinical psychologist influence your writing?

Absolutely. I’ve seen hundreds of clients over the years and though everyone processes events according to their unique perspective, the experiences of love, fear, pain, and loss are common to humanity. It’s interesting to see how people interpret life events within their own personal construct.

What do you like about writing science fiction?burn out

That’s easy. I get to make up whole new worlds and then see what happens when I let characters loose in them. It’s creative and fun, and I get paid to do it. I couldn’t imagine anything better.

What advice do you have for other aspiring writers?

Never give up. Eat lots of chocolate. Drink lots of wine. Seriously though, the most important thing is to keep writing and find some good, honest critique partners…and then listen to them. Always strive to improve your craft. Read a lot. Reading is just as important to me as writing.

If your book were turned into a movie, who would you like to see play Tora, Markus and James?

What a fun question! I think Emily Browning would make a kick-ass Tora, and Skylar Astin as Markus would be awesome. James is tougher. Either Cam Gigandet or Alexander Ludwig is close to how I pictured James as I wrote him.

Who are some of your favorite science fiction and fantasy writers?

Lois Lowry, Madeleine L’Engle, Isaac Asimov, and Ray Bradbury to name a few. Additionally, though they’re not straight sci-fi writers, Neil Gaiman and Stephen King have had a huge influence on me.

What’s the best compliment you’ve received about your book so far?

My favorite so far was when a fellow author told me how much she loved my main character, Tora, and called her “the female Han Solo.” You can’t get a cooler compliment than that.

Is there a second “Burn Out” book in the works?

Yes, I’m hard at work on the second book, and I’m having a blast with it.

Hardcover, $17.99; eBook, $13.07
ISBN: 978-1606844793
Young Adult Science Fiction, 272 pages
Egmont USA, April 8, 2014

Purchase here!


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2. Interview with Sallie Haws, Author of Quantum Spirit: Apocalypse

sallie haws

As the great-granddaughter of the inventor of the drinking fountain and founder of Haws Corporation, Sallie Haws put her UC Santa Barbara bachelor’s degree in organizational psychology to work to make a positive impact on her family’s business. Sallie held numerous jobs in the company over her 26-year tenure from file clerk to President and CEO.

At a young age, Sallie’s passion for writing was fed by taking creative writing classes in high school and college. It was nursed along throughout her adult years by a voracious reading habit of paranormal, sci-fi, fantasy novels.

After selling the family business in 2011, Sallie finally had the time and inspiration to write.

“Quantum Spirit – Apocalypse” (August 2013, Fedd Books) is the culmination of years of personal and professional life experience combined with the
desire to empower, entertain and inspire adults and teenagers.

Sallie lives in Reno, Nevada, with her husband, son, daughter and black kitty named Chubs.

Visit Sallie online at www.quantumspiritbooks.com 

 

Salena Hawthorne, the teen heroine in “Quantum Spirit: Apocalypse,” is incredibly smart, strong and courageous. What do you want readers to learn from her?

I would love for them to learn how to tap into their own innate power and abilities. After being a business leader and mentor for many years, I decided to take what I’ve learned and share that with eager and open-minded young women through an entertaining and non-threatening medium.

My personal reading genre of choice is paranormal urban fantasy. However, I didn’t want to write a book about vampires or were-creatures. There are some awesome authors out there who do that extremely well, and I didn’t think it needed to be done again. I also wanted to write a book with a positive outlook for humanity’s future. I’m a little tired of the dystopian genre. I wanted to create a state of wonder with my audience. Our world is so full of fear and discord; it’s time to imagine a world full of love and connectedness.

On the surface, “Quantum Spirit” is a fun, easy read about a young girl who has some amazing abilities and some fantastic adventures. But the deeper you get into the book, the more profound the story becomes. Can you expand on that?

For many, the quick surface read will be enough. For those with a little more curiosity, dropping down one level, the premise of the book is how deadly fear can be, and how love, gratitude and forgiveness is the antidote. The third level introduces some metaphysical and spiritual concepts that are currently being practiced and taught all over the world. In that regard, “Quantum Spirit – Apocalypse” could almost be considered realistic fiction.sallie

How did you come up with the idea of giving Salena all of these different gifts – clairvoyance, seeing auras and traveling between dimensions?

I actually had a dream about a young girl who could change her body’s vibrational resonance that allowed her to disappear in the Third Dimension and travel to the Fifth Dimension. So that gift was the first one I came up with, but then I needed to provide reasonable cause as to why she might develop such a talent. Being an exceptionally strong clairvoyant at a young age I felt would lead credence to the development of more advanced abilities at the onset of puberty. Being able to see auras just seemed to make the package complete.

If you could have any the abilities that Salena has in your book, which would you pick and why?

I think my first choice would definitely be the ability to transcend dimensions. Being able to teleport anywhere in the world would seriously cut down on my travel expenses! Not to mention the money I would save on new clothes and accessories that I could instantly manifest while in the Fifth Dimension. As distracting as I’m sure it would be, the ability to see auras would be my second choice.

Crystals play an important role in “Quantum Spirit.” Can you tell us a little about them?

The two main types of crystals that play a role in the book are Selenite and Quartz. The use of Selenite came about by pure synchronicity. It was completely coincidental that the majestic crystal caves in Niaca, Mexico where I chose to put the Akashic Records were made of selenite. Selenite was named after the Greek word for moon, and Selene is the name for the Greek Goddess of the Moon. (I had named my heroine Salena way before I discovered the crystal caves and what type of crystals were in them.) After researching all of the physical and metaphysical properties of selenite, I knew that if the Akashic Records were ever going to be located in a single place, they would definitely be stored in those crystal caves.

I chose quartz for the healing ceremony because that is the first choice for metaphysical practitioners who use crystals to augment their healing practice. Quartz crystals are able to structure, store, amplify, focus, transmit and transform energy, which includes matter, thought, emotion and other forms of information. They were the best tool I could give Salena to allow her to trap the negative energy of the Blue Flu.

Did you do a lot of research while writing “Quantum Spirit?”

Yes. While the story is fiction, all of the metaphysical, spiritual and scientific concepts in the book are based on theories and research done by many different people. I read and/or referenced at least 13 different books and I don’t know how many dozens of websites on the various different concepts that I weaved into my story. Links to the books are all listed on my website.

Do you believe in the paranormal?

Absolutely. In fact, I believe in every one of the metaphysical concepts I put into Quantum Spirit: Apocalypse, even the existence of the Fifth Dimension. That doesn’t mean I have the ability to do any of the “paranormal” things that Salena can do, but I do believe they are possible.

Have you always wanted to be a writer?

Yes, I’ve always wanted to write a novel my whole life. My first attempt was in seventh grade, and there were a couple of other ones after that. After selling the family business in 2011, I knew I wanted to take this opportunity to finally write, but I didn’t have what I felt was a compelling enough story. In June of 2011, while on a houseboat vacation on Lake Shasta, I dreamed about a young girl who could change her body’s vibrational level and travel back and forth from the third dimension to the fifth dimension. Upon awakening, I walked out to the living room where my husband, son and his friends were eating breakfast and announced to the group, “I have my story.”

Without any spoilers, can you give us a hint of what to expect in your next book, “Quantum Spirit: Redemption?”

Salena has a lot of work ahead of her. On top of staying one step ahead of the nefarious goons who are trying to kidnap her, she must also continue to find a solution to help the millions of souls who are still trapped in stasis. Keeping track of Jace and trying to find a way to save him will also keep her rather busy, and she still has to pass eighth grade algebra.


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3. A Chat with Karen Benke : Author, Poet, & Creative Writing Instructor

It’s National Poetry Month this April and what better way to celebrate than a chat with author, poet, and creative writing instructor Karen Benke.

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4. Player Profile: Rjurik Davidson, author of Unwrapped Sky

RjurikDavidson2-300x245Rjurik Davidson, author of Unwrapped Sky

Tell us about your latest creation:

 Unwrapped Sky sits somewhere between fantasy and science fiction, in a little subgenre sometimes called the New Weird. It’s set in the fantastic city of Caeli-Amur, which is something like an industrial version of Ancient Rome. Steam trams chug along the streets. A ruined forum lies close to a huge arena. Three dictatorial Houses rule the city. It’s filled with strange wonders. Ancient Minotaurs arrive for the traditional Festival of the Sun and New-Men bring wondrous technology from their homeland. Hideously disfigured Wastelanders stream into the city and strikes break out in the factory district.

Unwrapped Sky Cover ImageThe novel tells the stories of three people. The philosopher-assassin Kata has debts that need settling and will do anything to ensure they’re met. The ambitious bureaucrat Boris Autec rises through the ranks, turning his back on everything he once believed, and soon his private life turns to ashes. The idealistic seditionist Maximilian resolves to overturn the oppression dominating the city, and hatches a mad plot to unlock the secrets of the Great Library of Caeli Enas, drowned in the fabled city at the bottom of the sea. 

Unwrapped Sky is a novel of adventure and suspense, but also – I hope – a book that has something to say about oppression and liberation, progress and destruction, gender and class, love and betrayal.

Where are you from / where do you call home?:

 Originally, I’m from Melbourne. At the moment, I’m splitting my time between Australia and Finland. As a child I spend a fair bit of time in Europe. I lived a few years in Paris. So I feel equally at home in Australia and in Europe, though I guess, in the end, Melbourne is my place. That’s where my friends and most of my family are. They become increasingly important as you get older, I find.

When you were a kid, what did you want to become?  An author?:

 For some time I used to say I wanted to be a scientist, and I did show some proficiency for it as a child. As a teenager I switched to writer, and though it’s been a long trek, that’s how I make my living now – for the moment at least.

What do you consider to be your best work? Why?:

 There’s a story recently republished in the Time Traveller’s Almanac, called ‘Domine’, which I’m particularly proud of. It’s a ‘slow’ science fiction story, a character-driven story about a man whose father is on the first serious trip into space. Because of the laws of relativity (what’s called time dilation), the father returns to Earth younger than his son (thirty or so years pass for the son, but only one for the father). So for the son, the father is in some ways younger and older than he. I’m proud of that little Carver-esque story. Having said that, the world of Caeli-Amur is my most sustained creation. So the stories and the novel set there will probably be the way most think of me.

Describe your writing environment to us – your writing room, desk, etc.; is it ordered or chaotic?:

 At the moment, I’m writing standing. The laptop sits on a chair, which is itself set on a table. I’ve had some back and neck problems, so I must stand up nowadays. I quite like it, though my feet get sore sometimes. Gone is all the bohemian mess I was used to! But I do occasionally walk off to find reference books and cookies. Or just cookies.

When you’re not writing, who/what do you like to read?:

 This year I’ve resolved to read more, though my tastes are varied. I’ve always thought it important to read outside one’s genre. You need to know what else is happening. Opening yourself up to many influences is one way of developing original work. On my list at the moment are: ancient history, quantum physics, Hilary Mantel, Jean-Paul Sartre and Scott Lynch. The only thing you’re unlikely to find is poetry, not because I don’t like it, but because I don’t know where to start.

What was the defining book(s) of your childhood/schooling?:

 No doubt there were sundry fantasy novels, but I think the ones which really get you are ones you read at about nine or ten years old. For me, I think, there were novels of Henry Treece and Rosemary Sutcliff: books about Vikings and ancient Romans. The love of other worlds was with me already. I wanted to go back in time and see those places. I still do.

If you were a literary character, who would you be?:

 Maybe Tristan Smith, from Peter Carey’s strange and wonderful novel The Unusual Life of Tristan Smith. For those unaware, Tristan Smith is a young, four-foot man with a stutter, who spends much of the second half of the novel dressed in a mouse suit. I’d like to spend more of my time in a mouse suit. I’m ordering one over the internet now. Thanks for the idea.

Apart from books, what do you do in your spare time (surprise us!)?:

 Books about hypnotism and the unconscious. In particular, hypnotist, spiritualist and magic shows of the nineteenth century fascinate me: that unusual combination of emerging science, performance and demonstration really fires the imagination. I’m going to include some of it in my third novel, a steampunk book set in Melbourne during the 1880s or 1890s.

What is your favourite food and favourite drink?:

 Authentic Indian gets me every time. The deep, rich flavours, the meat which melts in your mouth, the heat. In terms of drinks, white spirits are nice. I once went to a bar in Russia where the vodka was free but you had to pay for the soft drinks. It wasn’t very good vodka, mind you.

Who is your hero? Why?:

 Most heroes are unseen and unheard: nurses, teachers, carers. But I admire Jean-Paul Sartre, who is an example of a writer who is engaged with the world. I’d like to write books that might do more than simply entertain. If you’re going to spend a year or so writing a book, it should be about something. Sartre’s ability to move between literary forms – theatre, essays, novels – is enviable, and he stood for something. That’s all too rare.

Crystal ball time – what is the biggest challenge for the future of books and reading?:

The digital revolution means that books – and films and television – are easily reproduced (with the click of a mouse. So it’s going to be hard to sell them in the future, especially as this current generation grows up. The result will be that the current structure of the industry won’t be able to support writers. Quality will go down: just look at paper journalism nowadays. In the short term, I can’t see a way around this, but we live in hope.

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5. A Chat with Asperkids™ Author Jennifer Cook O’Toole

Jennifer Cook O’Toole is founder of Asperkids™, a multimedia social education company focused on making life for children and families with Asperger’s profoundly positive and purposeful.

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6. Rhyming Picture Book Month: An Interview with Bad Bye / Good Bye’s Deborah Underwood

BadByeGoodBye Rhyming Picture Book Month: An Interview with Bad Bye / Good Byes Deborah UnderwoodA real post that has nothing to do with videos on a Sunday?  Am I out of my friggin’ gourd?  Maybe so, but today is a special occasion.  You see, today, I am pleased to announce that I wrote something . . . on another person’s blog.  Admittedly I don’t usually do that sort of thing but when Angie Karcher met me at an SCBWI Regional Conference in Indiana last November (my very first keynote!) she convinced me that this was a cool idea.

You see Angie’s been running a Rhyming Picture Book Month series over at her blog and she has some pretty darn big names involved.  Just take a look at the calendar and you can see a lot of familiar faces, as well as some newbies.  When she asked me to contribute something I was initially stumped.  Then an idea hit.  I have read a LOT of picture books in 2014.  Why don’t I just sift through them and find the rhyming picture book I liked best?

Easier said than done.  For all their charms, good rhyming picture books are near impossible to do.  At their worst they sound like Dr. Seuss in a blender.  At their best they shine like bright jewels in a sea of morass.  Fortunately, there is one book out in 2014 that struck me as particularly smart and beautiful.  None other than Deborah Underwood’s Bad Bye / Good Bye.

So I don’t interview folks very often, but Deborah was a doll.  Head on over to Angie’s site where I sit Ms. Underwood down (in the proverbial sense) and ask her the ins and outs of how one goes about writing something that rhymes while telling a complete story at the same time.  Then, when you’re done with that, take a trip to Seven Impossible Things Before Breakfast where Jules interviews artist Jonathan Bean and shows some truly cool behind-the-scenes sketches of the book in question.  Fun stuff for a pretty Sunday.

 

share save 171 16 Rhyming Picture Book Month: An Interview with Bad Bye / Good Byes Deborah Underwood

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7. Author Interview and Giveaway: 20 Questions with Beth Kephart

The 20 Question Interview with our very own Turkeybird is our feature interview that happens with all of the book authors, illustrators and poets we love!

Today we are delighted to welcome a friend and long time favorite author of Turkeybird’s mom, Beth Kephart. Beth’s new book Going Over was published this past week. Much like Dangerous Neighbors, You Are My Only, Small Damages and many other of Beth’s novels Going Over was one that will not soon be forgotten. After many long hours (or possibly minutes) talking with his mom Turkeybird came up with a few questions to ask Beth that he knew he needed to know. So, without further hesitation on our part, the Turkeybird’s interview with Beth Kephart…

Beth Kephart_Author Photo_smI LOVE these questions, Turkeybird. Also, you are such a cute guy! I’ve heard many fine things about you….. But I digress….

1. So, my mom tried to explain why someone would put a big wall in the middle of a big country, but why do you think they did it? Sounds pretty weird to me!

Sadly, there are still many walls in the world today. Walls between Palestine and Israel, between Yemen and Saudi Arabia, and between our own country and Mexico, among other places. Often walls are built to keep people or perceived dangers out. In Berlin, the wall was built in 1961 to keep the people in. The East Germans had begun flocking to the West—unhappy with the conditions where they lived and in search of better opportunities. The East German government needed those people to stay put—who would do the work if they were gone?—and so the Wall (devastatingly) went up.

2. How do you talk to someone when there’s a big wall in the way?

Well, often, you don’t. You can’t. You are cut off from communication. But people are ingenious, and many found a way. Westerners could visit the East, with certain passes. And sometimes the Easterners could get a pass to visit the West. But most of the time, between many people, sometimes even between husbands and wives or siblings or best friends, there was silence. It was terrible.

3. If you were seven what would you read next?

Where the Wild Things Are.

4. How about if you were four, what would you read next? (Littlebug likes to read a lot too. I’ve gotta get books for her.)

flamingo and littlebugFlora and the Flamingo. Which doesn’t even have any words, but it has the best message.
(Turkeybird: AH! That is one of her most favorite books ever…see the picture and you’ll know what I’m talking about.)

5. Swings or Slides?

I’d have to say Slides.

6. Why?

Because when I was nine years old I shattered my arm in a fall from a swing. I still have the scars and weak arm to prove it!

7. Math or English class? (I can’t decide right now, I like both!)

Don’t decide! Like both!

8. Do you have a favorite treat? (Mine is anything chocolate!)

I’m right with you, buddy.

9. Crayons or Markers?

Crayons.

10. Why?

Because then I can write the next Famous Crayon Book.

11. What’s your favorite color?

It used to be blue-green. Now it might be orange.

There's a Book_Beth's ceramics12. I heard you like to make pots and things out of clay. (That sounds neat!) What was your favorite pot that you’ve made?

Oh. I can send you a photograph. I made it for my editor at Chronicle Books, Tamra Tuller. I will attach a picture.

13. When you were my age did you like to draw and read?

I liked Spirographs! And doll fashion.

14. Why do you like to write?

Boy, well. Do you have all day? Or are you busy eating chocolate while drawing with crayons?

Going Over_FC15. My mom said you write lots of books about things that happened a long time ago, she called it history. What’s your favorite time that’s already happened?

Your mother is a smart cookie. I like her. Tell her that. I’m a big fan of late 19th century stuff. But I really loved going back to 1983 Berlin.

16. I love Legos and building things! Do you like Legos or something else fun?

Does ballroom dance count?

17. Why?

Because I can do it with the music on.

18. Lakes or the ocean? We live next to the ocean and it is so neat!

OCEAN!! (Lucky guy, you.)

19. What’s your favorite thing to do outside? (Mine is exploring!)

Walking.

20. What are you writing right now?

Answers to your questions.

TurkeybirdThe Turkeybird Speaks: Wow Beth, I can’t believe how crazy that there are still places in the world like you talked about. I asked my mom if there are any books I could read on my own about Mexico, Israel and Germany. We are going to go to the bookstore and the library to find some. I really want to learn lots and lots more!

The dancing sounds like lots and lots of fun too, but not the broken arm. I think I will stay away from swings (I didn’t like them before very much) and dance a lot more. Except my dancing is kind of really crazy!

Thank you super a lot Beth! Your answers were so so good and when I get older I really want to read all of your books, just because they sound so neat!

Going Over Blog Tour Banner

Find Going Over by Beth Kephart at the following spots:
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Powell’s Books | Indiebound | Book Depository | Goodreads | ISBN10/ISBN13: 1452124574 / 9781452124575

CCSS-Aligned Discussion/Teacher’s Guide (Opens to pdf)

Going Over Radio Playlist!

Giveaway!

Thanks to the generous folks at Chronicle books we are delighted to be able to giveaway one signed copy of Going Over plus an audiobook to one lucky There’s A Book reader!
Be sure to enter using the rafflecopter form below and be aware that this one is for US/Canadian residents only.

Thank you so much to the publisher, Chronicle Books, for providing a copy of this book for review! Connect with them on Twitter, on Facebook and on Pinterest!
Purchasing products by clicking through the links in this post will provide us a modest commission through our various affiliate relationships.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Original article: Author Interview and Giveaway: 20 Questions with Beth Kephart

©2014 There's A Book. All Rights Reserved.

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8. Wendell Minor At Seven Imps

Connecticut author/illustrator Wendell Minor was featured at Seven Impossible Things Before Breakfast earlier this week. And an exhibit of his work continues at the Norman Rockwell Museum in Stockbridge, Massachusetts until May 26.

My favorite quote from the Seven Imps' interview: "The most important thing that teaching has taught me is that it’s one thing to know your craft, but a very different thing to be able to enlighten and instruct others as to how to learn their own craft."

I heard Wendell Minor speak many years ago when he appeared at the Connecticut Children's Book Fair with Jean Craighead George

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9. Deborah Underwood & Claudia Rueda Discuss “Here Comes the Easter Cat”

It's rare that an author and illustrator get to work closely together while creating a picture book—this makes it very fun to get a peek into a conversation between a picture book duo that have been paired together by an editor and live in two different countries. In the case of the adorable Here Comes the Easter Cat, bestselling author Deborah Underwood wanted to know how award-winning illustrator Claudia Rueda managed to capture both Cat's crankiness and his sweetness.

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10. Fusenews: Why You Should Go to Kidlitcon (and other interesting facts)

  • KidLitCon 300x158 Fusenews: Why You Should Go to Kidlitcon (and other interesting facts)Oh, you lucky bugs.  Do you know what today is?  Today is the first day of Kidlitcon and for those of you still interested in joining (and who wouldn’t be?) you have a last minute chance to be a part of the fun.  Always assuming you’re in the Austin area, of course, but I bet that LOTS of you are located in that general vicinity.  As you’ll recall, last year Kidlitcon was held in New York City and we did very well indeed with the vast hoards of people.  This year it’s a slightly smaller affair, but no less fascinating and fun.  Full details can be found here but don’t worry if you’ve missed the opening ceremonies.  The bulk of the action is on Saturday anyway, so you’ve still time to join.  So go!  Shoo!  Why waste your time here?
  • I don’t know about you but typically I go through blog reading binges.  I ignore my favorites for long periods of time and then I consume weeks’ worth of material in a single sitting.  I did this recently with the beloved Crooked House.  First, I enjoyed the fact that she highlighted the book How to Do Nothing With Nobody All Alone By Yourself (notable, if nothing else, for the Lemony Snicket quote which reads, “Every great book reminds us that we are all alone in the world. At least this one provides us with the means to entertain ourselves while we’re here.”)  The second post that caught my eye was a transcribed selection from The Mermaid of Brooklyn which I perhaps enjoyed too much.  Too too much.
  • Now some graphic novel news.  There are two horns worth tooting today.  First, there is the fact that I’m on ALSC’s Quicklists Consulting Committee and we recently came up with a newly revised Graphic Novels Reading List, broken down not just by age levels but by whether or not they’re black and white or color.  In related news, kudos to the folks at Good Comics for Kids as well as Snow Wildsmith and Scott Robins for their A Parent’s Guide to the Best Kids’ Comics: Choosing Titles Your Children Will Love.  The SLJ blog and the useful book were both mentioned on the most recent episode of the popular NPR podcast Pop Culture Happy Hour.  The episode Making Toddlers Into Nerds is a bit of a misnomer and they do a lamentable job of mentioning any children’s literature that isn’t either 50 years old or part of a huge series, but at least they get the graphic novels piece right.
  • Questions I never thought to ask until Marjorie Ingall made me: Why do chickens play an outsized role in Jewish children’s picture books?  The answer may surprise you.  Or, at the very least, you’ll be impressed with the amount of thought Marjorie has put into this subject.
  • This is a good one.  Always at the forefront of the diversity issues, Lee and Low recently put on their blog the post Literary Agents Discuss the Diversity Gap in Publishing.  The agents in question are Adriana Domínguez, Karen Grencik, Abigail Samoun, and Lori Nowicki. Much of what they’re saying echoes things we’ve heard from editors over the past few years.  Check it out.
  • I received this message recently and figured you’d want to know about it.  Ahem.

I just wanted to let you know that ABFFE’s 2013 holiday auction will take place on eBay from November 26 through December 2nd.  Please let your colleagues and friends know that this is the best place to buy holiday gifts! More than 50 leading artists and illustrators contributed to last year’s auction and we are hoping for even more art this year.  Once the auction is live, you will be able to access it from a link on www.abffe.org.

  • Me stuff.  Recently I was lucky enough to serve on the New York Times Best Illustrated judging committee for this year’s books.  If you haven’t seen the results I came up with alongside Brian Selznick and Steve Heller you have two choices.  You could look at the fancy dancy NY Times slideshow of the winners here OR you could go on over to 100 Scope Notes and check out Travis Jonker’s truly lovely round-up with book jackets and everything here.
  • Just as I collect children’s literary statues from around the States (I’m STILL updating that post, people, so don’t worry if your favorites haven’t made it yet) I also like to keep tabs on museums of famous children’s authors and illustrators.  You have your Eric Carle Museum, your Edward Gorey Museum, and apparently you also have a Tasha Tudor Museum.  Or, at least, you will when it finds a new host.

SpotLit 300x93 Fusenews: Why You Should Go to Kidlitcon (and other interesting facts)You may or may not have heard about the SpotLit list, created by Scholastic Book Group with the help of scholars, teachers, librarians, and other specialists in the field.  Well, two awesome infographics have been created to show off some of the facts behind it.  I like them partly because they’re infographics and partly because in the group picture it looks like I’m snuggling up to Harry Potter while Hedwig swoops down mere moments before removing my cranium.  This list discusses what the committee looked like and this list discusses what the books on the list consist of.

  • When a new library branch reopens in my city I don’t always report on the fact, but this recent article about the reopened Coney Island Branch is the exception to the rule.  The place looks precisely how you’d want a Coney Island branch to look.  Granted there aren’t any half naked mermaids or rides in the library, but those photographs on the walls are worth the price of admission alone.
  • Jon Klassen’s right.  Interviews with the great illustrator Arnold Lobel are few and far between.  When you can find one, you post it.  And that’s just what he did.  Thank you, Jon.
  • Hat tip to Travis Jonker.  Without him I would have never known that there are TWO children’s literature podcasts out there that had escaped my attention.  I need to upgrade the old sidebar on this blog, do I not?
  • And in the world of grants n’ such:

Greetings! There’s still time to apply for the ALSC Candlewick Press Light the Way grant. The deadline is December 1, 2013. This is a great funding opportunity if you have a project or program related to library service to children in special populations. The application is at this link: http://www.ala.org/alsc/awardsgrants/profawards/candlewicklighttheway

  • Daily Image:

Today’s image may be classified as Best Fan Art Ever, or something along those lines.  How many of you are familiar with Helen Frost’s lovely middle grade Diamond Willow?  Well, it came out in 2008 or so but its fans continue to find it.  Case in point, this young woman who, with her Chinook pet dog, reenacted the cover.  Compare and contrast:

Original:

DiamondWillow1 Fusenews: Why You Should Go to Kidlitcon (and other interesting facts)

Fan Made:

DiamondWillow2 500x333 Fusenews: Why You Should Go to Kidlitcon (and other interesting facts)

Utterly adorable.  Many thanks to Helen for sharing this with me

 

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11. Interview with Talia Aikens-Nuñez, Author of OMG… Am I A Witch?!

witchTalia Aikens-Nuñez wanted to be a meteorologist, a politician and a lawyer. She never thought she would be a writer. It was the birth of her daughter that caused her to start writing. Raising a bilingual child inspired Talia to write multicultural children’s books. Talia’s family loves nature so much that she and her husband vowed that they will always try to live close to water. She, her husband, daughter and newborn son live on a river in Connecticut.

When did you first get bit by the writing bug?

After the birth of my daughter, I started writing books for kids. I wanted to write fun and imaginative books for kids that featured multicultural characters.

Why did you decide to write stories for children?

I wanted my kids to be able to see and read books featuring multicultural characters that did not focus on race or ethnicity.

 

Do you believe it is harder to write books for a younger audience?

No. I love to try to think like an 8-12 year old. My favorite part of writing for the age group is trying to capture their imagination and fun-loving nature.

Can you tell us what your latest book is all about?

OMG… Am I A Witch?! is the enchanting story of a little girl who discovers her magical powers after turning her annoying older brother into a dog using a spell found on the Internet.

A classic story of “be careful what you wish for.” OMG… is a hair-raising, action packed tale of a girl looking for a spell reversal and finding herself in the process.

What inspired you to write it?

It just came to me one day as a fun and imaginative idea.

Where can readers purchase a copy?

They can purchase a copy from the publisher’s website (Pinwheel Books):
https://pinwheelbooks.myshopify.com/collections/our-books/products/omg-am-i-a-witch

Amazon (for Kindle): http://www.amazon.com/OMG-Am-Witch-Talia-Aikens-Nu%C3%B1ez-ebook/dp/B00FQI9SZO/

Amazon (paperback): http://www.amazon.com/OMG-Am-I-A-Witch/dp/0985424850/

Barnes & Noble: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/omgam-i-a-witch-talia-aikens-nu-ez/1117110410

What is up next for you?

I am trying to find a home for my next children’s book, Dragon Guardians.

Do you have anything else to add?

I hope everyone enjoys the fun and magical adventure of April and her friends. You can find me online at http://talia-aikens-nunez.vpweb.com and like me on Facebook at  http://www.facebook.com/taliaaikensnunezchildrenswriter

Thank you for spending time with us today, Talia. We wish you much success.

 


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12. SittieCates

SittieCates has been writing for more than ten years. She has covered topics about health, travel, recipes, writing, family, children and many more.  The author of Sleepyhead? NOT!, 13th Breath: A Collection of Poetry and Prose and Are You There, God? It’s Me, Kaitlyn Zamorra, Smiling at You,  she is currently working as a freelance writer.

Please tell everyone a little about yourself, Cates.

Cates photo2SittieCates: SittieCates is my virtual pseudonym. My real name is Jacqueline, which I mostly prefer my family, old friends and relatives to use. Most of my friends call me Cates. Online, a lot of people call me Sittie. I prefer having my pseudonym, “SittieCates”, written without a space to denote oneness or balance.

I have worked for traditional publishing firms as a Writer and Editor. I also taught English to Filipinos at a local school. I’ve handled students from Grades 3 up to 4th year High School. I was the Guidance Counselor and the Head of the English Department. Aside from those jobs I had at that school, I was also the adviser for the school publication and was in charge of the Theatre Guild.

After a few years, I became an ESL teacher for Koreans. Then, I had an offer at another publishing firm so I went back to writing and editing.

In between those full-time jobs, I tried to squeeze in time to engage in writing the stories that I love; not the articles that I usually spin at work. I’ve managed to publish a poem, a few short stories for kids and some articles in other local magazines published by other publishing firms. While my aim was to write about topics I really love in snippets of time available, I have to admit that there were lots of times when I was too tired to engage in that because of my hectic work schedules. You see, whenever I came home, all I wanted to do was collapse on my bed and pray that I would have a restful sleep so I could function well the next day.

When did the writing bug bite?

SittieCates: I’ve always wanted to write. My parents and siblings would scold me because I would write everywhere. They particularly hated it when I would write on the walls. It looked really messy, but all those scribbles were, in a way, special, because they held dozens of stories only I could understand.

I wrote my very first “nearly legible and more understandable” story when I was in kindergarten. It was part of an assignment. There was a blank page for that in the book, and we were tasked to write a story. We were encouraged to draw the characters, too.

So, I peppered the page with stick figures, the only drawings I could muster. J And I wrote a very, very short story about three girls who always wanted to sing. And when I say short, I really mean short because I only used a few sentences. The title was written as one word; it included all three names of the little girls in the story.

What particular genre/s do you prefer?

SittieCates: For the genre, I seem to gravitate more towards children’s stories. I published two ebooks for kids. One is Sleepyhead? NOT! and the other is Are You There, God? It’s Me, Kaitlyn Zamorra, Smiling at You. I have a third one that’s already with my illustrator. It’s about learning colors. It’s perfect for kids aged 3 to 5, but younger and older ones up to 8 would also love it.

I also love poetry. I’ve compiled a few of my poems and published them together with some essays in my ebook, 13th Breath: A Collection of Poetry & Prose. The ebook is inspirational and autobiographical. If you read it, you’ll get to know a few things about me. I’ve created an ebook trailer for this at: http://youtu.be/31TfRehsfSU. One of my favorite poetry lines that I’ve written in the ebook includes this one: “In the evenings when the wind speaks softly in my ear… When the stars give out a shine so enchantingly clear… When the soft beams of moonlight leave a trail of shadows in sight… I listen to the sweet, melodious sound of your voice at night.”

What other genre/s are you interested in venturing in?

SittieCates: I have a novel. Currently, I’m polishing that one. It’s my first novel and it’s a romance story, but there’s a little bit of twist there. J I’ll just announce that when it’s ready.

When you started writing, what goals did you want to accomplish? Is there a message you want readers to grasp?

SittieCates: That’s a good question, Shelagh. When I started writing, just like most authors, I wanted to share my works with a lot of readers. I wanted my works to be read and, hopefully, bring something helpful, amusing or inspiring to the readers – whether the story is for kids or for grown-ups. I truly wanted to give my readers that experience. Even though they may not always have a smile on their faces after reading what I’ve written, I wanted them to feel satisfied or complete, with nary a nagging and confusing thought bothering them afterwards when they close the book.

Could you tell us more about your current book bundle promo for kids?

SittieCates: I’d love to, Shelagh!

The Sittie Case Book Bundle_SittieCates As I’ve mentioned earlier, I have published two ebooks for kids that are up at Amazon (at http://amzn.to/1dTolwE) and other retailers, priced and sold individually. These two are included in a book bundle at http://flipreads.com/sittie-bundle. The bundle, Sittie CASE, is offered at a very, very low price until January 31, 2014 only.

To give interested readers an idea of the children’s stories included in the bundle, here are the descriptions for both:

Sleepyhead? NOT!

Mabel Robbins is a bright, sweet and cheerful kid who likes to play make-believe. She faces no trouble during the day. But when nighttime comes, her problem begins. She couldn’t sleep easily like the rest of her family.

Thinking that she is different, she seeks help to correct her sleeping problem.

But nothing seems to go right!

Will Mabel Robbins be able to find the “right” way to sleep easily? Find out now at Sleepyhead? NOT!

Sleepyhead? NOT! children’s ebook trailer can be seen at YouTube.

Are You There, God? It’s Me, Kaitlyn Zamorra, Smiling at You

When Kaitlyn Zamorra learned to write letters to God from her parents, she started telling Him everything: the things that she likes and what she considers to be “no fun” at all. She also told God about a precious gift that was lots of fun.

But then, something happened. Her source of happiness seemed like it was going to be taken away from her.

Will she be able to save something that gave her lots of happiness? Or will Kaitlyn soon realize what’s truly “lots of fun”?

Are You There, God? It’s Me, Kaitlyn Zamorra, Smiling at You Children’s ebook trailer is at YouTube.

While the denomination there is in Philippine Pesos, interested buyers can avail of it in dollars by choosing Paypal as a mode of payment. I would suggest that readers check the FAQ at the site to know more about the file reading formats before they purchase and download the bundle.

Since it’s my first time to have a book bundle, I thought of celebrating it while the promo was running. So, I created a worldwide event on Google Plus. But not everyone could join. So, I transferred the event to Facebook, invited some friends and encouraged them to invite others. The Facebook party, which I named, The Sittie CASE Book Bundle Party has already started, and would end by January 31. Others can still join the event if they like, provided that they do so before the last day of January.

How do you develop characters?

SittieCates: I’m a people watcher. I observe people of different ages, professions, etc. I’ve been doing that since I was like 6 or 7 years old. It was just like a game before.

People may think I’m naturally talkative. But I’m only like that online. In person, I’m often what you may refer to as “unusually quiet”, especially when there are so many people around. It’s not that I’m a snob, but I merely prefer to observe people and things around me. That is if my nose isn’t buried in a book.

Often, I listen to how people talk. I take note of how they carry themselves, what clothes they prefer to wear, their mannerisms and other things. I also try to feel the underlying messages that their statements try not to reveal because, as I’ve observed, there are some who would tell you one thing but mean another thing, and I could somehow feel and notice that even if they try really hard to keep that to themselves.

It’s amusing to observe people because I feel that by doing this, I would be able to create the possible lead characters and antagonists of the story, sort of like getting inside their heads and seeing how they think. In real life, I try to capture all that. I try to incorporate these things in my stories so it would adopt a “real” atmosphere, especially in my upcoming novel. (Other character sketches I’ve had are kept in a notebook and I’ll be using those next time.)

What about the setting?

SittieCates: When I created the story setting for my upcoming romance novel, Bookworm, I had to struggle for awhile. I was trying to decide if a serious mood would be best or not. With regards to where and what time the story would take place, I chose what I knew, what I was familiar with, and injected that in the novel. Hopefully, the readers would love it.

Do you have a specific writing style? Preferred POV?

SittieCates: For most of the articles I’ve written, I would say that I’d go for the first-person POV.

But with stories, I try to experiment. I used both the first-person and third-person POV for my stories for kids. Sleepyhead? Not! was written using the third-person POV while Are You There, God? It’s Me, Kaitlyn Zamorra, Smiling at You used the first person.

However, for my upcoming novel, things are totally different. It’s not going to use any of the POVs normally used in writing novels. I wanted to try something else. So, I decided to use a different approach, which you’ll all see when my novel will be published. And I sincerely hope you would all wait for that.

How does your environment or immediate circle of friends, family and colleagues color your writing?

SittieCates: I find that a part of me seems to come out – regardless of whatever I create (poems, songs, articles, stories, etc.). It may be about the people I’ve met, the experiences I’ve had or the experiences that I knew someone had.

Sometimes, I find that helpful. Other times, no, because when I’m faced with a certain character, and I see that character as someone I know, it wouldn’t help the tale at all, especially if something happens in the story. What I mean is that being the real person that that character is, when he or she is faced with a dilemma, obviously, he or she would do the same thing that his or her character’s “real” counterpart would do. When that happens, all creative juices would be blocked, and that wouldn’t contribute well to the story because I wouldn’t know what else to write. As you can see, for me, when that story character thinks, feels and behaves like the real-life counterpart, that’s the end of the story. You can’t move past that because you would say that the real person wouldn’t behave, feel or think as such. So, there’s no more ideas coming in. You’re blocked! I’ve encountered that when I was writing the first few drafts of Bookworm. It was really hard to move beyond that. So, I changed the story a bit, and tried to see a story character as not being totally similar to a real-life counterpart.

Share the best review (or a portion) that you’ve had.

13th_Breath_Book_Cover_1563x2500SittieCates: Delighted to do so, Shelagh! Some of the links for the book reviews I’ve received for 13th Breath: A Collection of Poetry & Prose” and “Sleepyhead? NOT! are at the tab marked as “Book Reviews Written by Others for My Works” at my two blogs.

I also loved this one that was posted on a retail site. It was for one of my ebooks for kids, Are You There, God? It’s Me, Kaitlyn Zamorra, Smiling at You. It reads:

“A wonderful and delightful story, adorably illustrated, about a little girl’s faith and innocence as she starts understanding about change and learning to love her baby brother. Well done! Five stars all the way (the stars seem to be missing on this review). My child loved it, too!” ~ Patrick Heffernan, Author of Greywalker, a novel

Where can folks learn more about your books and events?

SittieCates: People can follow me in a number of ways:

Twitter: https://twitter.com/SittieCates

My Blogs: http://www.myownwritersnook.blogspot.com and http://www.sittiecateslovestories.blogspot.com

Facebook Pages: https://www.facebook.com/TheMusingsofaHopefulPecuniousWordsmith and https://www.facebook.com/SittieCatesLovesStories

Google Plus: https://plus.google.com/114470887211929135419

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/7415659.SittieCates.

Shelfari: http://www.shelfari.com/sittiecates

Thank you for joining us today, Cates.

SittieCates: Thank you so much, Shelagh! I really enjoyed the interview. All the best to you and your site! And happy holidays to everyone! J

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13. Interview With Author Emily Liebert on YOU KNEW ME WHEN

2013-09-12-YouKnewMeWhenfinalcover

Debut author Emily Liebert has burst onto the scene with her new novel, You Knew Me When. At the heart of this charming debut is the concept of friendship; what it means, how it grows and how it can change you. Emily Liebert answers a few questions about her writing process, her inspiration and what’s next for her writing career.

Tell us the story behind the story. How did you come up with the plot for You Knew Me When?

I’ve always been interested in the bonds of female friendship. When I was younger, I had a best friend who dumped me when I met my first serious boyfriend. And I’ve had other friends who’ve either been disappointing or quite the opposite — who’ve stuck by me through the best and worst of times. I wanted to explore this. I also wanted to present two women — one with a husband and child, who was unhappy with her job and the other with a big career, but no family to speak of. It raises the age old question — can women really “have it all”?

What was the most challenging aspect of writing You Knew Me When?

The most challenging aspect, for me, of writing any book is actually sitting down at the computer and starting to write. Some days you just don’t feel it. And every now and then, that’s ok. But you can’t slack off all the time! So I push myself to start writing and, usually, once I do the words start flowing.

What is the message you want readers to take away from your book?

That friends and family are more important than anything else. That’s not to say that building a career and life for yourself isn’t important, but you have to remember to cherish the people that were there for you in the beginning.

Describe your writing schedule. Do you outline? Any habits?

I always write a thorough outline and brief character descriptions before I start writing a book. It’s a chapter by chapter outline. Sometimes I’ll end up going in a different direction, but I find that it’s much easier to sit down and write when you have a plan. When I’m in writing mode, which is about six months or so out of the year (the rest is spent on publicity, partnerships, editing etc…), I typically write about four hours/day. I try to wrap up the writing by 4pm, so I can return emails and deal with other work items.

What books are on your nightstand? What are you currently reading?

I’m currently reading These Girls by Sarah Pekkanen. I only read one book at a time.

What authors inspire you?

Judy Blume, Jennifer Weiner, Jill Kargman, Emily Giffin, Jane Green, Sarah Pekkanen, and Elizabeth Noble

What have you learned from this experience?

That writing a book isn’t just about the writing. You could pen a masterpiece and if no one knows about it, you’re in trouble! Marketing and publicity are a huge piece of the publishing success puzzle.

What is your advice for aspiring writers?

Develop a thick skin. You will have doors slammed in your face. But when those doors are slammed in your face, kick them in!

What is the best piece of advice you have ever been given?

Don’t sweat the small stuff. I’m not sure I’ve followed that advice, but it’s good nonetheless!

What are you working on now?

I just finished writing the first draft of my next novel, The Love That Lies Ahead. So I’ll be in the editing phase of that soon. And I’ll be chatting with my editor next week about my idea for novel number three!

2013-09-12-2012.02.20_EmilyLie4FCEEE

 

This interview originally appeared on Huffington Post Books.

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14. Doodles and Drafts – Dreaming and scheming with Andrew King

A week or so ago I rubbed shoulders with some of Kids’ Lit most illuminating talents at the Book Links’ QLD (The Centre for Children’s Literature) third Romancing the Stars event. The objective of these evenings is to meet and listen to as many authors and illustrators wax lyrical about their latest publication as possible in a frenzy of succinct deliveries and rotations – rather like speed dating, but with books and ultimately more satisfying.

Amongst them was, rising star, Andrew King. I first met Andrew and Engibear, both instantly likeable fellows, last year when Andrew and I were amongst the ‘daters’. I confess the first time I laid eyes on his non-typical picture book, I baulked at the complexity of its design and presentation. Perhaps it is the poor mathematician in me, but there seemed too many labels and numbers and graph grids! The detail overwhelmed me and the thought, ‘too much’ flickered through my mind like an wavering light bulb.

Cover_Engibears_DreamBut Andrew’s compelling fervour for his work convinced me to look more closely. So I did, and fell in love with what I saw. Engibear’s Dream is neither too busy nor over-detailed, but rather a masterfully thought out and delivered tale of simplicity and perseverance. Engibear’s life is too full to pursue both his dreams and work. He needs help and being a clever engineer like his creator, sets out to design a Bearbot to help him achieve more. But grand schemes are rarely realised first time round. It takes Engibear several attempts to ‘get it right’ but he never gives up on himself or his Bearbot.

Engibear illos BBT09More than just a cute rhyming counting book about the rigours of planning and design, Engibear’s Dream covers the themes of sustainable living, finding balance in a world of progress and change and being innovative and tenacious in the face of failure. Mighty issues for small minds, but ones they will assimilate as they follow Engibear’s attempts to succeed, all superbly illustrated both schematically and in explosive colour, by qualified architect Benjamin Johnston.

I needed to find out more about the man behind the bear, behind the robot. So this week I have a bona fide, qualified engineer behind the draft table. Here’s what he had to say…

Andrew Engibear Launch AssemblyQ Who is Dr Andrew King? How would you best describe present self?

A 48 year old mixed bag: self, husband, dad, son, brother, relative, friend, engineer, co-worker, band member, aspiring author, committee member, community member, etc…

Fortunately, from my perspective, I have been very lucky and the mix has been good to me – I am trying to be good back.

Q Describe your 10 year old self. Did you have any concept then of what you wanted to do or be when you grew up? If so, what?

A 10 year old mixed bag – just a bit less in the mix – son, brother, relative, friend, school student, footballer, etc…

Fortunately (again) I had a very pleasant and carefree childhood. So carefree that I don’t think I had any real idea of what I wanted to do when I grew up. Interestingly though, I remember that a friend and I were writing and illustrating small books of jokes back in grade 6 and trying to sell them (for about 2 cents each). It has been more than 30 years since I last tried but I am now trying to write and sell books again.

Q Writing for children is not your first chosen occupation. Why take up the challenge now?

Kelly and I have been writing and drawing with our kids for years. We ended up developing characters like Engibear and the Bearbot and writing about their adventures in Munnagong. A few years ago my daughter, Marie-Louise, suggested that we should write a book.

Q Engibear’s Dream is your first picture book for children. What are you trying to impart with this book and why choose the picture book format?

The book started as a way of making engineering more accessible to young children. However, we wanted to make the book something more than an instruction manual. Therefore, we included a storyline (in this case a story about perseverance) and tried to include humour. We have also added numbers so that it can be used as a counting book.

To me drawing is a very powerful communication tool. The combination of words and pictures used in engineering drawings is a particularly useful way to communicate design ideas. The opportunity to include these types of diagrams and images of Engibear and the Bearbot meant that the book had to include pictures.

Q What sets Engibear’s Dream apart from other picture books currently on the shelves?

Engineering – in two ways.

Firstly, having a character that is an engineer, there are very few engineers in children’s literature. To me this is surprising as children seem to be very interested in the things that engineers do. Engibear provides a “friendly face” of engineering and therefore a way to introduce engineering to young children at the right level.

Secondly, including detailed engineering drawings. Ben Johnston is an architect who is used to working with engineers. Ben has created loveable characters and has also been able to contrast them with fantastically detailed design drawings of Munnagong, Engibear’s house and workshop, the Bearbot and its working parts. I think this combination of drawing styles allows children to enjoy the characters and the story and then also spend time thinking about how things work and making things (engineering).

Building Bearbots - CoverQ How long from conception to publication did it take to realise Engibear’s Dream?

Building Bearbot was an early family story that is about 10 years old and was the basis for Engibear’s Dream. It sat in the cupboard for a long time. However, once we decided to write a book and chose this story it took about three years to get to publication.

Q It takes Engibear up to 10 types from prototype to final version before he engineers the perfect Bearbot. Does it take engineer Andrew the same number of attempts to design something new before getting it right?

If it is a book, yes – easily!

Building Bearbots - Page 1Depending on the complexity of the project I think engineering design can also take a lot of work. However, engineers have developed systems such as standards, computer modelling and design reviews to help make the design process robust.

Q Engibear’s dream is to have a life less strenuous with more time for enjoying the simple pleasures. What’s the one thing on your non-writing wish-list you’d like to tick off /achieve / produce?

I would like to read more fiction.

Q Do you have other writing dreams you’d like to fulfil?

I have a series of Engibear books planned. Munnagong is a busy place; there is a lot of engineering going on and a lot to write about.

Q Engibear is written in quatrain rhyming verse. As a first time author, did you find this difficult to pull off? Why did you choose to tell the story in this way?

We wrote the book in quatrain rhyming verse because this is how we made up verses when my children were younger – it just seemed to be a natural way to rhyme. However, while this worked for family stories, it was very difficult to do it properly. As an engineer I have some technical writing skills but I had to learn a lot about writing verse. Therefore, I did a course with Dr Virginia Lowe at Create a Kids Book and Virginia then mentored me.

Q You chose to publish your book via a partnership publishing company (Little Steps Publishing). Why? What other publication avenues did you explore if any?

I did contact some traditional publishers and received very polite rejections. I thought that rather than keep going down that route it would be better just to get on with it – self publishing seemed to be the answer.

Q What is on the design board for Andrew? What’s your next ‘writing’ project?

We have been making models of the characters in Engibear’s Dream and we have created a rsk based engineering game. I am also working on the next planned Engibear book “Engibear’s Bridge”. This book is about construction of an iconic “green bridge” near Munnagong State School which will be opened as part of the Munnagong Festival.

Engibear BGT09 specsBrilliant Andrew! You know I can’t wait to meet your new characters and see their designs.

Like the most enthralling kids’ movies, Engibear’s story doesn’t just end with a ‘happily ever after’ moment. Keep page turning and be fascinated by full page project drawings of BBT-10, the Final Version, resplendent with some side-splitting specifications. My young miss could not go past the line drawn end pages detailing Munnagong, home of Engibear either. A fascinating read.

Designed for 3 – 8 year olds. Also riveting for boys, those with inquisitive minds, budding designers and anyone who likes to dream big.

Little Steps Publishing 2012

 

 

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15. 5Q Interview with Marion von Adlerstein

marion-von-adlersteinMarion von Adlerstein worked as an advertising copywriter in Melbourne, London and New York in the fifties and sixties. Between 1976 and 1998 she held several posts with Vogue Australia publications, including Travel Director. During those years Marion wrote about many subjects, including fashion, beauty and interiors. She is the author of The Passionate Shopper, The Penguin Book of Etiquette and The Freudian Slip.

1. Can you remember the first story you ever wrote and, if so, what was it?

I was in my early twenties, newly married. The story was entitled Aren’t they Sweet? and it was about the difference between how a relationship seemed and how it really was. I sent it to The Ladies Home Journal in America and I can’t remember ever having received a reply.

97807336293962. How many novels did you write before your ‘first novel’ was published?

Only one completed manuscript. It was turned down by the publisher with the words, ‘Marion should stick to non-fiction.’ Fortunately for me, I ignored the advice.

 3. What sorts of books do you love to read?

For the past several years, I’ve been stimulated by the fiction of contemporary North American writers: Deborah Eisenberg, Dave Eggers, Michael Chabon, Paula Fox, Alice Munro, Jennifer Egan, Jonathan Lethem, William H Gass (Middle C is wonderful, but I had to give up The Tunnel, his hefty, famous and grubby endurance test, after the first 500 pages.) I can’t write the kinds of books they have written which may be why I’m attracted to them.

But I also love: the mournful works of W.G. Sebald; Amanda Mackenzie Stuart’s biographies of Diana Vreeland and Consuelo and Alva Vanderbilt; Edmund de Waal’s The Hare with Amber Eyes.

 97807336317884. If you were forced to co-write a novel with someone (as we’re not presuming that you’d want to co-write with anyone necessarily) who would it be?

I couldn’t imagine collaborating with anyone. I must be too possessive of my words. I don’t show anyone my work until I consider it finished.

 5. What are you working on now and next?

A few disparate ideas are scrambling about in my head. I find that I have to lie fallow for a while after my latest novel has been published until I’m so bored with uneventfulness I have to start living in my imagination again.

 

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16. GCC Presents: Denise Jaden!

Rather than doing a traditional interview-filled blog tour, Denise Jaden is celebrating the release of her new nonfiction writing book, FAST FICTION, by dropping tips about writing quickly at every stop of her blog tour, and offering some awesome prizes for commenting on any of these posts (including this one!)

The more you drop by and comment, the more chances you have to win these great prizes:

Denise's Fast Fiction Tip: Keep looking toward "The End".

Literally the best thing ever, for me, is typing the words “The End.” Those words come with a rush of satisfaction and joy and relief and calm. It’s not just completing the project, either. Part of the reason why this is the best thing ever is that I know I work really well off of a completed draft. After giving a draft a rest, I love looking back at the beginning, middle, and end, and seeing how they all flow together. I often read through and have a completely clear vision on how to revise my book without any outside input, at least initially. Plus, it’s fun to post on Facebook: Hey, I just finished another book!

The Prizes:

  • Compliments of New World Library: They will be giving away A BOX of copies of FAST FICTION by Denise Jaden and GET IT DONE by Sam Bennett (US and Canada only):
  • Compliments of Denise Jaden, TWO BOXES of great fiction (US Only). Details on Denise's blog.
  • Audiobook copies of NEVER ENOUGH by Denise Jaden!
  • A critique of your first five pages, compliments of Denise's agent, Michelle Humphrey from The Martha Kaplan Agency!

All you have to do is enter the rafflecopter for a chance to win (at the bottom of this post, I've included links to all of the other blogs where you can comment for more chances to win).

About Fast Fiction:

Writers flock to National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) each November because it provides a procrastination-busting deadline. But only a fraction of the participants meet their goal. Denise Jaden was part of that fraction, writing first drafts of her two published young adult novels during NaNoWriMo. In Fast Fiction, she shows other writers how to do what she did, step-by-step, writer to writer. Her process starts with a prep period for thinking through plot, theme, characters, and setting. Then Jaden provides day-by-day coaching for the thirty-day drafting period. Finally, her revision tips help writers turn merely workable drafts into compelling and publishable novels.

A portion of publisher proceeds will be donated to National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo)



Praise for Fast Fiction:

“Fast Fiction is filled with stellar advice, solid-gold tips, and doable, practical exercises for all writers who want to draft a complete novel.”
— Melissa Walker, author of Violet on the Runway

“Being a ‘pantser’ I have always resisted outlining, but I have to say that Fast Fiction changed my mind! Denise Jaden takes what I find to be a scary process (outlining) and makes it into an easy and, dare I say, enjoyable one. Fast Fiction is a hands-on book that asks the right questions to get your mind and your story flowing. I know I’ll be using Fast Fiction over and over again. Highly recommended for fiction writers!
— Janet Gurtler, author of RITA Award finalist I’m Not Her

“Fast Fiction is full of strategies and insights that will inspire and motivate writers of every experience level — and best of all, it provides them with a solid plan to quickly complete the first draft of their next novel.”
— Mindi Scott, author of Freefall

“Fast Fiction provides writers with the perfect mix of practical guidance and the kick in the pants they need to finish that draft. This book is a must-have for writers of all levels.”
— Eileen Cook, author of The Almost Truth

Practical and down-to-earth, Denise Jaden’s Fast Fiction makes a one-month draft seem doable, even for beginners, any month of the year.”
— Jennifer Echols, author of Endless Summer and Playing Dirty

“One of the greatest challenges any writer faces is getting a great idea out of one’s brain and onto the page. Fast Fiction breaks that process down into concrete, manageable steps, each accompanied by Denise Jaden’s sage advice and enthusiastic encouragement. And anything that helps streamline the drafting process is a-okay by me! Fast Fiction is a great addition to any writer’s toolbox — I’ve got it in mine!”
— Catherine Knutsson, author of Shadows Cast by Stars

“Forget the fact that this resource is directed at those wanting to complete a fast draft — if you’re out to get your novel done, period, Jaden’s Fast Fiction will be the kick in the butt that gets you there, from story plan to ‘The End’. . . and beyond.”
— Judith Graves, author of the Skinned series for young adults

Where you can find Fast Fiction:

Help an author out:
Can't get a copy of FAST FICTION right now? I wonder if you'd consider helping out in other ways. I'd really appreciate any way that you can help!

  • Ask your library or bookstore to bring in FAST FICTION
  • Leave a review on Amazon (the more books are reviewed on Amazon, the more they will show up as suggestions for readers).
  • Mention FAST FICTION on Facebook, Twitter, your blog, or pin a link to Amazon on Pinterest
Blog Tour Stops:
Comment on any of the following blog posts celebrating Fast Fiction's release to be entered to win prizes galore! 
(All Fast Fiction blog posts should be live by March 9th, or sooner. Contest will be open until March 15th. If any links don't work, stop by http://denisejaden.blogspot.com for updated links.)

GCC Blogs:

Additional Participating Blogs:

Remember, all you have to do is leave comments to get lots of extra entries to win some great prizes. 
Don't know what to comment about? Tell us the name of your favorite writing book!

Share this widget here:
http://www.rafflecopter.com/rafl/share-code/Y2QyYmEwOTMzNTUyNGRiYWY0NWE1YWE4YjBjN2I2OjQ=/ a Rafflecopter giveaway

Or, if the Rafflecopter Giveaway doesn't seem to be coming up on this blog, access it here: http://www.denisejaden.com/FastFictionContest.html

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17. 5Q Interview with Tristan Bancks, author of Two Wolves

bancks, tristanTristan Bancks is a writer and filmmaker. He has a background as an actor and television presenter in Australia and the UK. His short films have won a number of awards and have screened widely in festivals and on TV. Tristan has written a number of books for kids and teens, including the Mac Slater, Coolhunter series, It’s Yr Life with Tempany Deckert, and My Life and Other Stuff I Made Up. Tristan’s drive is to tell inspiring, fast-moving stories for young people.

1. Can you remember the first story you ever wrote and, if so, what was it?

I think it was a rip-off of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory in which kids could gain all their essential nutrients by eating ice cream flavoured like meat, pumpkin, brocolli etc. When I visit schools now and run workshops with younger grades I notice that kids are still writing that story. I am considering suing several of them because their work is way too close to my version. Coincidence? I don’t think so.

 97808579820322. How many novels did you write before your ‘first novel’ was published?

My first novel Mac Slater, Coolhunter was published but I had written lots of short films, a couple of un-produced feature film screenplays, hundreds of articles and a number of Educational fiction and non-fiction titles prior to having that book published.

 3. What sorts of books do you love to read?

I seem to love page-turning reads with unadorned prose and strong characters that explore an idea. My favourite adult books include Salinger’s The Catcher in the Rye, Cormac McCarthy’s The Road, Hemingway’s The Old Man and the Sea and Jack London’s White Fang. My favourite children’s and middle-grade reads include Gary Paulsen’s Hatchet, Brian Selznick’s The Invention of Hugo Cabret, Markus Zusak’s Fighting Ruben Wolfe and Tim Winton’s The Bugalugs Bum Thief.

 97818647181714. If you were forced to co-write a novel with someone (as we’re not presuming that you’d want to co-write with anyone necessarily) who would it be?

I have co-written a novel, it’s yr life with Tempany Deckert, which really brought the writing process alive for me. I also love collaborating with illustrators. These days, I think I find it difficult to co-write but I would love to collaborate with a Web / Gaming person to build interactive elements into the story as I write.

5. What are you working on now and next?

I am working on my third book of weird-funny-gross short stories in the My Life series and, in the background, I am exploring another darker middle-grade crime-adventure book along the lines of Two Wolves.

Author website: www.tristanbancks.com

Twitter: @tristanbancks

 

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18. Giveaway, Gemstones and SING SWEET NIGHTINGALE by Erica Cameron {Guest Post}

by Erica Cameron: There were several things that were strange about my upbringing, but most of these differences weren’t obvious to me until way later in my life. For one, my mom is a chiropractor and has always been my main source of medical advice or attention. Apparently that’s not normal? She also raised my sisters and me vegetarian, a word most of the other kids in my elementary

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19. 5Q Interview with Pip Harry, author of I’ll Tell You Mine

0002846Pip Harry is a freelance journalist who has worked on magazines for many years, including chasing celebrities as Entertainment Editor for NW and Deputy Editor for TV Week before turning herself into a yoga-loving frequent flyer as Health & Travel Editor for Woman’s Day. She’s the co-founder of relationships website, realitychick.com.au and has had short stories published in the UTS Writer’s Anthology and Wet Ink. She became a published author with her debut YA novel I’ll Tell You Mine. Her second YA novel, Head of the River is arriving in 2014, along with a non-fiction ebook about relationships, co-written by Rachel Smith. Pip lives in Sydney with her partner and their gorgeous daughter, Sophie. When not at a keyboard, she can be found searching for the perfect flat white and competing in ocean swimming

Can you remember the first story you ever wrote and, if so, what was it?

It was a fantasy picture book about faeries and magical lands.  Lots of world building and illustration.  I was seven when it was self published and distributed amongst my friends and family. Reviews were glowing.

9780702239380How many novels did you write before your ‘first novel’ was published?

Four. One adult, two YA and a middle grade. All not quite there, but great practice.

What sorts of books do you love to read?

Contemporary YA and adult fiction. Real, funny, gritty and relatable writing always grabs me. My writing buddy Pam Newton also turned me onto smart crime fiction like Crooked Letter, Crooked Letter.

If you were forced to co-write a novel with someone (as we’re not presuming that you’d want to co-write with anyone necessarily) who would it be?

Is John Green available? We could write a YA love story set in the US & Australia. I’ll have to give him a call and set that up. I’d also love to co-write with my brother Michael, who is a brilliant young writer and editor. We just need to get less busy!

What are you working on now and next?

Now I am putting the finishing touches on a contemporary YA set in the world of competitive school rowing called Head of the River.  It’s out in 2014 with UQP. Next I have co-authored a relationship non fiction ebook with Rachel Smith for Xoum publishing.

Author website: http://www.pipharry.com/

Twitter: @piphaz

 

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20. Blog Tour by Ink Slinger PR: Author Interview & Giveaway - White Hot Kiss by Jennifer L. Armentrout

Series: The Dark Elements (Book 2) Paperback: 400 pages Publisher: Harlequin Teen (February 25, 2014) Language: English ISBN-10: 0373211104 ISBN-13: 978-0373211104 BUY LINKS: Amazon Barnes and Noble iTunes Kobo One kiss could be the last.  Seventeen-year-old Layla just wants to be normal. But with a kiss that kills anything with a soul, she's anything but normal. Half demon,

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21. Interview with Camille Matthews, Author of Quincy and Buck

Camille Matthews is a licensed clinical social worker, an avid equestrian, and is certified in the field of equine-assisted psychotherapy. She established the Pathfinder Program, one of the first equine-assisted mental health programs in New Mexico. She lives in Mohrsville, Pennsylvania.

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22. 5 Questions with Best Selling Author Lorhainne Eckhart

 

BookBuzzr author – Lorhainne Eckhart’s book – The Forgotten Child recently hit the #2 spot on the Amazon Kindle store. We reached out to Lorhainne to learn more about her story.

The screenshot below was taken on February 28, 2014.

 Hi Lorhainne, thank you for taking the time to do this interview.

Thanks for having me.

1. Congratulations on the astounding success of – The Forgotten Child! Can you begin by telling our authors your story?

I am a 2013 Readers Favorite Award winner and author of  24 titles which includes novels, collections, and short stories. I write three genres, western romance, romantic suspense and military romance and have sold more than 200,000 eBooks since my bestseller The Forgotten Child has landed on the Amazon #1 Bestseller list for Westerns and Western Romance. The German Foreign rights for The Forgotten Child have since been acquired by a major publisher and will be released March 18, 2014. I live on sunny Salt Spring Island with my family where I am working on my next book.

 2. What’s a typical day like in your life as a self-published author?

Well, first I have a crazy busy schedule, which I am completely responsible for only because having a successful career as an author is a driving force for me and I don’t allow much to stand in my way. I am extremely proactive, after I get my kids off to school, I spend my mornings writing, and I try to do at least ten pages a day. I don’t always succeed, but I write every day. Procrastination is not in my vocabulary and I have become really good at shutting out all distractions. I spend my afternoons focusing on promotion, social media, writing blogs and getting caught up on emails.

I manage my time and rarely schedule anything in the mornings. Only after I finish a book and ship it off to my editor do I take a few days off.

 3. Some reviews can be harsh. How do you deal with negative reviews?

Honestly, some negative reviews can be personal attacks on an author. I’ve seen some horrible ones that make me questions why would someone say something so nasty. The first time you get a bad review it bothers you, but I have learned to ignore them. There will always be negative people in this world and when you give any attention to that you just feed it. I focus on my good reviews, I have a lot of good reviews from my readers and they always put a smile on my face. Sometimes getting a really bad review can be someone who bought your book thinking it was another type of book. And when this happens, I do go back and look and make sure all the appropriate warnings are there, for language and content.

 4. Your book is priced at less than a dollar at the moment in the Kindle store. Have you experimented with different price points? How does price affect sales?

I have experimented with different prices. Generally, my eBooks are priced at 2.99, my collections at 3.99 and up. The .99 price point is when I am running promotions or I want to boost sales for a book. The Forgotten Child has done very well, and the price has been reduced for promotions I am running through until the end of March. 



 5. What are some of the activities that you do to market your book?

I advertise on many online sites and direct eBook newsletters. Every week I have several ads running for any one of my books. I also write two blogs, and participate in free e-book giveaways.

______________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

Vikram Narayan is the founder of BookBuzzr Book Marketing Technologies. (Twitter – @bookbuzzr) Vikram is a graduate of Carnegie Mellon University. Prior to starting BookBuzzr, Vikram founded another software company that has been successfully serving clients from all over the world since 2001. When he is not dreaming up ways to help authors accelerate their earnings and book sales, Vikram spends his time playing the guitar, practicing Aikido and spending time with his family.
______________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

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23. Interview with Veronica Roth, Author of DIVERGENT

With the DIVERGENT movie just around the corner, we thought it would be fun to post this interview with Veronica Roth, updated with the movie images.  Have you bought your movie tickets yet?  They're on sale now!! * * * As you probably know by now, Divergent was one of my favorite books.  So, I was REALLY excited to do this interview with Veronica Roth.  But not just any interview would do

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24. GCC Presents: Eileen Cook!

Year of Mistaken Discoveries Cover Year of Mistaken Discoveries by Eileen Cook is now available!

About the book: Friendship is a bond stronger than secrets in this novel from the author of The Almost Truth and Unraveling Isobel. As first graders, Avery and Nora bonded over a special trait they shared—they were both adopted. Years later, Avery is smart, popular, and on the cheerleading squad, while Nora spends her time on the fringes of school society, wearing black, reading esoteric poetry, and listening to obscure music. They never interact...until the night Nora approaches Avery at a party, saying it’s urgent. She tells Avery that she thought she found her birth mom—but it turned out to be a cruel lie. Avery feels for Nora, but returns to her friends at the party. Then Avery learns that Nora overdosed on pills. Left to cope with Nora’s loss and questioning her own actions, Avery decides to honor her friend by launching a search for her own birth mother. Aided by Brody, a friend of Nora’s who is also looking for a way to respect Nora’s legacy, Avery embarks on an emotional quest. But what she’s really seeking might go far deeper than just genetics…

You can buy the book here: Indie Bound Amazon Barnes and Noble Chapters/Indigo

 What Others Are Saying:
 “Cook combines friendship drama, boy troubles, romance, family conflict, and college application stress with a protagonist trying to understand who she really is in the wake of tragedy.” Publisher’s Weekly

 “Cook delves into some interesting questions about what is really important in life as well as the challenges associated with self-discovery and determining how far you’ll go to get what you want.” Booklist

 “An insightful, entertaining exploration of the impact of a suicide” Kirkus

 “Eileen Cook returns with Year of Mistaken Discoveries, a romantic tragi-comedy from the perspective of the most popular–often most hated–girl in high school: the cheerleader… Year of Mistaken Discoveries is provoking, fast-paced entertainment, and Cook successfully tackles some tough issues with a very light touch.” Readerly- The National Reading Campaign.

 “Given the choice between contemporary and paranormal YA, I will almost always pick contemporary and Eileen Cook is the perfect example of why.” Nerdy Book Club- Kelly’s Top 15 Books for 2014 

"This book is amazing! Everyone should buy at least five copies." Eileen's mom.

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25. My Writing and Reading Life:Patricia Hruby Powell

Patricia Hruby Powell danced throughout the Americas and Europe with her dance company, One Plus One, before becoming a writer of children's books. She is the author of Josephine: The Dazzling Life of Josephine Baker, an extraordinary portrait of the passionate performer and civil rights advocate Josephine Baker written in exuberant verse. She lives in Champaign, Illinois. You can visit her online at talesforallages.com.

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