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1. LitWeaver: Bringing Students, Teachers and Authors Together Virtually

It was during a #yalove Twitter chat one night that I happened to notice one tweet from author Will Weaver.  I always have an open invitation for authors to join, and we have had a few tweet with us, but to me, this man is a LEGEND!  He's been writing for well over twenty years.  He is also the author behind a new website entitled LitWeaver (http://www.litweaver.com)


I had the chance to do and online interview with Will Weaver to learn more about this site pairing e-books, authors, and reader's guides.  After reading the interview, please take a look at the website to get the full experience of the awesomeness of what these authors are doing.


 How did LitWeaver come to life virtually?

WW:  I do lots of school visits, and over the years have seen the increasing pressure on ELA teachers and school librarians. Budgets always seem in decline– especially for classroom sets of novels and new acquisitions for libraries. Some principals and superintendents believe “technology is the answer”, and find money for tablets—but none for staff support or even curriculum. The Learning Management Systems from big publishers look cumbersome and expensive—so it hit me that there has to be a better way.  A middle ground, you could say, as schools transition from print textbooks to digital learning


 Give a brief description of what LitWeaver does

WW:  LitWeaver is designed to be a bridge from your five pound lit anthology to iPad and tablet-style reading and learning. We’ve purposefully focused on shorter, contemporary young adult lit—short stories, essays, poems, and plays—that teachers can “weave”  (get it?) into their ongoing curriculum. Teachers need a break from the same readings every year!  LitWeaver also includes a short lesson plan with with discussion questions and reading prompts.


How did you get the authors on board with this idea?  

WW:  You mean Katherine Paterson?  Jerry Spinelli?  Ellen Hopkins? Rene Saldana?  Nikki Grimes?  Those kinds of authors? (Shameless name-dropping here, ha). Actually it was easy to get our 50+ authors on board. They (we) have had such amazing support over the years from teachers and librarians who have bought our books and invited us to their schools, and here was a chance to give back.


Teachers and students will have access to e-books.  Are these all free to read and download?

WW:  We believe in free stuff for schools, and we’ll always have a nice batch (about 20 titles to begin) of free reading. But our website has bills to pay, so we’ll eventually add a low-cost subscription option for “more”—that is, access to our whole library plus some other cool teaching and learning tools.  FYI, LitWeaver will never have a huge library—that’s exactly what we don’t want.  We are curating (buzzword nowadays) a select group of really good readings for grades 5-12 so you don’t have to spend time looking online or through huge, publishers’ catalogs.  Our editor, Don Gallo, and the authors themselves have picked pieces we know students will read—and maybe even like.


Each book comes with a reading guide.  Who created those?

WW:  Current classroom ELA teachers. We have a great, small team of lively teachers dedicated to keeping kids reading and thinking (a big focus on the latter)!


Currently LitWeaver is in beta stage.  When do you anticipate it becoming a full site?

WW: Within 5-6 months, that is, in time for the new school year.  Our beta release is to gauge support.  If we get a lot of teachers signing up (for free), we’ll get investor funding. If we get investor funding, we can build out LitWeaver to provide LOTS of free and low cost YA lit for schools. Nothing not to like about that.


The cost of becoming a LitWeaver user is free right now.  Will free users be able to keep this status after LitWeaver is fully functional?

WW:  Yes.  We’ll always have a rotating section of “free stuff” by top, contemporary authors. If you only want to use these free readings, that’s fine.  But we hope you’ll find enough value and excitement in LitWeaver to eventually subscribe as a paid user. As I mentioned, websites like our are expensive to build and maintain.  Looking ahead to new features, we’ll be adding a student writing component, which will be a fun complement to the reading side.  


Thank you so much Will!!  I've already gone to the site and demo'ed it out and it's really pretty intuitive.  I'm SO glad there are authors like you and the several others who contribute their time and energy to create passionate readers!!


WW: One last thing. LitWeaver doesn’t assume that all schools have 1:1 tablet technology.  If you don’t, no problem. You can select readings and print them out for distribution in class.  We believe in access first, technology second.  And please remember that our site is in open beta right now, which means we’re still working on it–so we’d love to hear your ideas. And very important: if you like where LitWeaver is headed, please sign up and help us get there.




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2. John Green ~ Author of The Fault in Our Stars ~ Interview

0 Comments on John Green ~ Author of The Fault in Our Stars ~ Interview as of 2/16/2015 6:33:00 PM
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3. B.J. Novak on His Book with No Pictures

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4. Interview with MGLit Author – M.J. Evans

Thanks for joining me on another edition of Author Interview Thursday.M.J. Evans Today’s special guest resides in the beautiful state of Colorado. Despite the fact she has a big family, she still makes out time to write great Middle Grade fantasy books.She is well respected amongst her peers and has worked in the education sector for many years. It truly is a delight to meet someone whose passionate about improving literacy levels in young people and loves telling a story. Without further ado, please join me in welcoming M.J. Evans.

 

Can you tell us a little bit about yourself?

I am a wife, a mother of five fabulous young adults, and a grandmother of nine beautiful kids. I love being outside (which is not good for an author!) I love riding my horses both on the trails in the Colorado Mountains and competitively in Dressage shows. I also love to ski, hike, camp, ride bikes…pretty much anything outside! I also love people and make friends easily. Dancing and musical theatre are also interests of mine. Now, add to that my love of reading and writing, I’m never just sitting around!

 

Tell us about the first time someone complemented you on something you had written? 

It wasn’t until I was a college student at Oregon State University that I was complimented on my writing and realized that I did have a talent for writing. It was many, many years later that I found the time to do the creative writing that I so yearned to do. Before that, I used my skills to write school curriculum and help Odyssey of the Mind teams write their one-act plays. Yet, I still didn’t really believe that I was a good writer until my books started winning national awards. When The Mist Trilogy won a gold medal from the Mom’s Choice Awards last December and North Mystic won first place in the Purple Dragonfly Awards for fantasy last spring, I started to gain a little more confidence.

 

What were some of your favourite books as a child? 

My favourite books were all horse stories! I loved all of Marguerite Henry’s books and I collect first edition copies of them. I loved Black Beauty and the Black Stallion, My Friend Flicka, and National Velvet. Do you see the common theme?

 

You have currently published three books in The Mist Trilogy. Was it a conscious decision to write a series and what led you to do it? Behind the Mist

As you know, publishers want a middle-grade, YA novel to be 50,000 to 70,000 words in length. I had the over-arching story in my head from the beginning and found that there were natural breaks in the story at about 65,000 words. So, it turned out to be a trilogy. I started writing The Mist Trilogy to challenge myself. I wanted to see if I could actually get it done. I had the story in my head and once my youngest child started high school, I actually had the time to commit to writing.

 

What tips do you have for writing good dialogue?

I love writing dialogue and I have found that I am quite good at it. The hardest part is to stay in character as you write what they are saying. Always ask yourself if that is something that your character would really say. Some other tricks I have learned: 1. Don’t try to fill in a lot of the story line or information through dialogue. Dialogue should enhance the story and add colour, not be the vehicle for telling the story. 2. Read it out loud, after all, dialogue is the spoken word. One example is to use conjunctions the way people actually speak. For example write: “She’s really angry with us.” Rather than “She is really angry with us.” 3. Let your characters have their own unique speech patterns and favourite phrases without over-doing it. For example, in The Mist Trilogy, one of the unicorns named Shema likes to repeat herself. One example: “Oh my poor boy, my poor, poor boy.” Hasbadana, the evil unicorn likes to try to impress others by using big words. In North Mystic, an award winning allegory of the Revolutionary war, the oldest child Evelynd is always the one to bring up the problem in any situation. She is the serious one, the pragmatic one.

 

Is there a particular book or film that inspires you to be a better writer and why?M.J. Evans and fan

My passion is writing fantasy and I get my inspiration from J.K Rowling and C.S. Lewis. One reviewer wrote that I was this generation’s C.S. Lewis and a young reader told me in a letter that she liked my books better than Harry Potter! I don’t believe that either of those are true but it sure was nice to get those compliments. C.S. Lewis uses allegory which is a tool I love to use and have used in The Mist Trilogy and North Mystic. J.K Rowling uses beautiful description which has inspired me as I write. I have a piece of paper by my computer that has five words on it: “Smell, Sight, Sound, Touch, Taste.” J.K Rowling is a master at using all the senses in her writing.

 

Toy Story or Shrek?

No contest! Toy Story!

 

With a background in education, what qualities have you seen in books that tend to capture children’s imagination?

I write so that pre-teens and teens will love to read. I believe that fantasy is one Genre that is best suited to encouraging the use of a child’s imagination. First, you are creating a fantasy world with fantasy characters. As the author paints a picture with words, the reader must use their imagination to follow the story. I have also learned that children should be allowed and encouraged to read books about topics that interest them. For me, it was horses. So, I have combined my love of horses and fantasy in The Mist Trilogy. I also enjoy history so I incorporated that passion in North Mystic.

 

What three things should a first time visitor to Colorado do?

Take a trail ride into Rocky Mountain National Park. Ride a bike from the top of Vale Pass to Frisco. Drive to the top of Pikes Peak. Actually, it’s really hard to pick just three things!

 

As you own three horses, I wanted to know if you could tell us three things most people don’t know about horses.Margi Evan on Kit

Everyone thinks horses are beautiful but some people are afraid of them because they are so big. Fear of horses is something I have never known. I guess that is why I get along with them so well. People need to know that horses are herd animals. As a result, they want and need a leader. If you are going to be the leader, that is just fine with them. But if you aren’t, then they will take that role because, in their minds, someone has to be the leader. This is why horses will behave so differently depending upon who is working with them. Second, horses have both a reacting side of the brain and a thinking side. An untrained horse has an over-developed reacting side and an underdeveloped thinking side. As a trainer and rider, it is my job to reverse that. I help them develop the thinking side of the brain. You never can completely eliminate the reacting side, however! Finally, horses have a great ability to sense what a handicapped child needs from them. If you have ever watched a therapeutic horse work with a disabled child (or adult for that matter) you will be amazed. Therapy horses have helped autistic children find their voice, CP and MS children find control of their bodies and at-risk kids find a purpose in life. Horses are truly amazing and a gift from God.

 

 

What can we expect from M.J. Evans in the next 12 months?

I have just completed a new manuscript titled In the Heart of a Mustang. It is a young adult novel about a troubled teen and a mustang mare that meet at an Arizona ranch. The bond that forms between the two saves both their lives. I am now starting to submit it for publication. It is not a fantasy and for a little older audience than The Mist Trilogy and North Mystic so that is new for me.

 

Where can readers and fans connect with you?

I love getting letters from my readers. They make my day…week…month! Readers can connect with me by going to my website: www.mjevansbooks.com They can also follow me on Facebook: Behind the Mist or North Mystic or on my blog: www.themisttrilogy.blogspot.com.

 

Any advice for authors out there who are either just starting out or getting frustrated with the industry?

I understand how frustrating the publishing industry is. Not only is it hard to break in and actually get someone to publish your work but the industry is going through a lot of changes that are hard to keep up with. Some of the changes are helpful for new authors. They now have the option of self-publishing, either in print or on eBook. I actually know several authors who are bypassing or abandoning the traditional publishers all together and just publishing on eBook format. I would recommend that new authors find several beta readers that are not family members or best friends to read their manuscript before submitting it to a publisher. Take their suggestions if you want, discard if you want, but at least you would get some objective feedback. The best thing that happened to me was when I submitted North Mystic to a publisher. After reviewing my query and sample chapters, she asked to see the full manuscript. A couple of months later, she turned down the book but wrote up a full page, single spaced, critique. I took every one of her comments and made the changes. As a result of her helpful suggestions and criticisms, North Mystic was not only published but went on to become an award winner.

 

Thanks for spending time with us today Margi. I loved your insight on horses and I’m really impressed with how you’ve weaved in a theme around horses – something you love – into your stories. Do check out Margi’s website where you can purchase one of her books. Do share our interview using one of the share buttons and leave a comment/question. We’d be delighted to respond and know that you stopped by.

3 Comments on Interview with MGLit Author – M.J. Evans, last added: 2/15/2015
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5. Spotlight on a Book Series: Liz DeJesus and the Frost Series...

I want to thank and welcome good friend and fantastic YA author, Liz DeJesus for sharing her personal experiences on writing a book series and showcasing her paranormal/fairytale series The Frost Series with us on my blog today. So let’s get this interview rolling…
 
Where did you get your idea and inspiration to write The Frost Series, Liz?

I got the initial idea for First Frost while watching a commercial for a local children’s museum. I thought about how cool it would be to have themed museums (since children are often into different things), like a train museum, pirate museum, or a fairy tale museum. And once I came upon that idea I knew I had stumbled upon something special. I grabbed my notebook as quickly as possible and jotted down the first things that popped into my head. Nine months later I had a novel.

Nine months? Sounds like you were having a baby. LOL! How many books are you planning to write in this young adult paranormal/fairytale series?

As many as I possibly can. I have an endless fountain of inspiration, there are so many fairy tales that I can have fun with and add to the storyline. But I don’t want to force anything with this series. If it has to come to an end, I want it to happen organically.

What sets The Frost Series apart from other series in the same genre?

The Frost Series is not a fairy tale retelling in the traditional sense. I’ve taken characters that live in the real world and thrown them into a series of magical events. The liberties I’ve taken with some fairy tales it’s mostly to add a solid foundation to the plot line. And some of the main characters are descendants of some of the most popular fairy tales. Bianca Frost is the great-great-great granddaughter of Snow White. Terrance is the grandson of the Big Bad Wolf. Prince Ferdinand is the great-grandson of Cinderella. The only one that’s just a normal girl is Bianca’s best friend, Ming.
We also get to interact with some of the items in the fairy tale museum and discover what each item is truly capable of.

Wow, your characters sound well developed and believable! How long did it take for you to
start and finish each book from The Frost Series?

The initial draft for First Frost took me about 9 months to write. And then another 3 months to edit and polish the book before I started submitting it to publishers and agents. Then while I dealt with rejection I wrote Glass Frost which took me about a year and a half to write and in that time Musa Publishing accepted First Frost and published it.

And I just finished writing the third book in the series, Shattered Frost, it took me about 2 years to write mostly because it’s such a complicated novel. It’s split between two points of view (Bianca and Terrance) and it was harder for me to get inside of Terrance’s head and write his scenes. With Bianca it’s so easy to slip in and out of her head because she’s so much like me. But I think people will enjoy this new adventure and see how these characters have grown and matured since we last saw them.

What are some of your favorite book series, Liz?

The Lunar Chronicles by Marissa Meyer, Strangers in Paradise by Terry Moore, The Dresden Files by Jim Butcher and anything written by Jessica Clare.

Hmm, I’ve got to check those authors out. Do you have any advice for other writers striving to write a series?

What has worked for me is to treat each book like a stand-alone novel. Only difference is that I’m using the same characters over and over again. But again, I’m new at writing a series so I’m just having as much fun as possible and listening to what my readers and other bloggers have to say. I do take some of their comments into consideration but I make sure it all goes with what I have in mind for the series.

I agree. As long as your readers give you constructive advice, then listen to them. So, what’s next for Liz DeJesus the author?

A lot of things! I’m getting ready to hit the road again, going to a whole bunch of conventions, book festivals, fairy festivals and libraries. I put together a few workshops and I am thrilled that people are enjoying them and that they are learning as well as putting some of my tips to good use. I also finished writing the third draft of Shattered Frost, I sent it to my editor and I’m waiting to hear back from her. Once that’s done I’ll send it to Musa Publishing and see if they will accept it for publication.

I’m also working on a collection of short stories titled Mugshots (it was inspired by some amazing artwork by MarilenAdroverhttps://www.facebook.com/adroverart) still have a few things to work on story-wise (if they are going to be individual short stories or if it will all tie in together somehow), but I’m having fun with this particular book.

I also have a few ideas bouncing around my head for book #4 of The Frost Series but nothing concrete yet.

I’m also working on a middle grade book titled Pros and Cons of Being a Teenage Fairy. It’s about a girl that grows fairy wings on her 13th birthday and how she navigates her life now that she’s a fairy.
So there is a lot to look forward to as far as writing is concerned.

 Sounds like you’ll be one busy gal! Okay, here’s one for me, since I’m writing a time travel series—IF you could time travel into Earth’s past, WHO would you love to meet, and WHY?

It’s definitely a tie between Vincent Van Gogh and Antoni Gaudi. I love art and architecture (probably because I wish I could draw, only thing I can draw are stick figures) and I would love to meet artists that I admire just to see what it is that inspired them to create. I believe that as a writer there is a lot you can learn from other creative people.

SPECIAL NOTE: I’d like to take the opportunity to congratulate Liz on being a finalist in the Book Bzz competition! If you’d like to vote for Liz during the month of February, here’s the link: http://bookbzz.com/first-frost-by-liz-dejesus/

Blurb for First Frost:

Fairytales aren’t real…yeah…that’s exactly what Bianca thought. She was wrong.

For generations, the Frost family has run the Museum of Magical and Rare Artifacts, handing down guardianship from mother to daughter, always keeping their secrets to “family only.”

Gathered within museum’s walls is a collection dedicated to the Grimm fairy tales and to the rare items the family has acquired: Cinderella’s glass slipper, Snow White’s poisoned apple, the evil queen’s magic mirror, Sleeping Beauty’s enchanted spinning wheel…

Seventeen-year-old Bianca Frost wants none of it, dreaming instead of a career in art or photography or…well, anything except working in the family’s museum. She knows the items in the glass display cases are fakes because, of course, magic doesn’t really exist.
She’s about to find out how wrong she is.

Blurb for Glass Frost:

When joined together, Cinderella's slippers grant the wearer her heart's desire.  But whose wish will be granted?

When Cinderella’s glass slipper is stolen, Queen Felicia sends her faithful steward Terrance to the real world to retrieve his love and witch-in-training, Bianca Frost. The power of the glass slipper in the wrong hands could ruin peace in Everafter. Bianca must gather every bit of magic she has learned in the past few weeks to find the slipper and protect her new love. Together, Bianca, Ming, Prince Ferdinand, and Terrance venture deep into the heart of Everafter to seek clues as to who has stolen the slipper and why. Along the way, they uncover what happened to the Seven Dwarves after Snow White married the prince, but also learn the awful risk of tampering with black magic and the high price that must be paid for magical aid, even when used for good.

Bianca and Terrance’s relationship is put to the test. Through the pain of suffering and loss, Bianca must determine if following her gallant boyfriend into his faraway world is in fact her heart's desire. 

Liz DeJesus was born on the tiny island of Puerto Rico.  She is a novelist and a poet. She has been writing for as long as she was capable of holding a pen. She is the author of the novel Nina (Blu Phi'er Publishing, October 2007), The Jackets (Arte Publico Press, March 2011) First Frost (Musa Publishing, June 2012), Glass Frost (Musa Publishing, July 2013), Morgan (Indie Gypsy, July 2014) and The Laurel (Musa Publishing, November 2014). Her work has also appeared in Night Gypsy: Journey Into Darkness (Indie Gypsy, October 2012) and Someone Wicked (Smart Rhino Publications, Winter 2013).
Liz is currently working on a new novel and a comic book series titled Zombie Ever After (Emerald Star Comics, Fall 2014).

First Frost Buy Links:

Glass Frost Buy Links:

Learn more about Liz Dejesus on her WEBSITE and BLOG. Stay connected on FACEBOOK, and TWITTER

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6. Jeff Kinney ~ Author of Diary of a Wimpy Kid

0 Comments on Jeff Kinney ~ Author of Diary of a Wimpy Kid as of 2/8/2015 4:28:00 PM
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7. Interview with MGLit Author – Cheryl Carpinello

It’s Author Interview Thursday and I’m so glad you’ve joined me today and our special guest.Cheryl Carpinello The wonderful lady in the hotseat has a background in education and recently became a grandma for the third time. Between juggling her roles as a wife, mother, grandma, educator, champion of children authors and so much more, she finds the time to write brilliant books for Middle Grade and Young Adult readers. She writes Quest stories that span different historical time periods like the Medieval era or ancient Egypt. She’s one of the main hosts of the Kidlit Blog Hop and has personally helped me broadcast my books on her blog and social platforms. She has a big heart and I know you’ll pick up something good. Do join me in welcoming Cheryl Carpinello.

 

Can you tell us a little bit about yourself & the first time someone complemented you on something you had written.

I’m a twice-retired high school (ages 14-18) English teacher from Colorado having taught for 25 years. I love working with my students, and now I write for middle graders and early teens. It is my love of the ancient and medieval worlds that provides my settings for my stories.

Shortly after my first book, Guinevere: On the Eve of Legend, was published, I was doing a medieval writing workshop for 30 Junior Girl Scouts. As part of their participation, each girl received an autographed copy of my book. About a week later, I received an email from one of the girls. She told me that she had fallen in love with Guinevere and thanked me for writing the story. She also wanted to know when the next book would be released!

 

What can a reader expect when they pick up a book written by Cheryl Carpinello? 

Readers can be sure that they will be transported back into the ancient or medieval world in an adventure that at times, while exciting, may be dangerous and life-threatening. Weaved throughout the story are historical facts and fiction which enable readers to imagine themselves in that setting.

 

You’ve written several books set around medieval and ancient times. Can you tell us where this fascination with ancient tales stemmed from?Tutankhamen Speaks 

I would like to say that it was from my childhood when I first watch Disney’s The Sword in the Stone, but my fascination with Medieval times started in college when I read Malory’s Morte d’Arthur. I fell in love with his descriptive interpretations of that era. Then I discovered T.H. White’s The Once and Future King. I’m a romantic and these stories drew me into the heart of medieval times. As for the ancient worlds, I’ve always loved them and teaching ancient Greek & Roman literature furthered my fascination and love. We spent three weeks touring Egypt in 2008. Always on my bucket list, Egypt stole part of my soul.

 

What were some of your favourite books as a child? 

I loved—and still do—horses. I devoured horse stories growing up. My favorites were The Black Stallion series by Walter Farley and The Golden Stallion series by Rutherford Montgomery.

 

What role would you say social media plays in building an author’s platform, and have you found it helpful in marketing your books? 

In today’s book world, social media is where an author gets their name out in the world. An author needs exposure and social media can be an important tool. I’ve met a lot of people—authors, readers, educators, PR—that would not have been possible without Twitter, FB, LinkedIn, & Pinterest. In that aspect, it has been helpful, but at times it is also frustrating, overwhelming, and time consuming. I would love to have a simple formula to plug in and use. Know one?!

 

What tips do you have for writing good dialogue? The King's Ransom

Writing good dialogue demands an ear for how an author’s characters speak. After 25 years teaching teenagers (14-18), their nuances and mannerisms are second nature to me. That is extremely helpful when writing for MG/Tween/YA. Authors should pay attention to conversations around them. If writing for young readers, observe nieces/nephews/younger cousins and/or volunteer at local schools/youth sporting events. Observation and listening are important tools when it comes to writing dialogue.

 

Is there a particular book or film that inspires you to be a better writer and why? 

I would have to choose Tolkien’s The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings. Tolkien handles the hero’s journey and the quest story masterfully. We studied the similarities between Tolkien, Golding’s Lord of the Flies, and T.H. White’s The Once and Future King in my high school English classes and talked a lot about the influence of Joseph Campbell in all of those. For readers not familiar with Campbell’s Hero’s Journey, Tolkien does the best job of incorporating Campbell’s philosophy in his writing. That is what I strive to emulate in my writing.

 

Toy Story or Shrek? 

Shrek! Sorry to say I’ve never seen Toy Story. Shrek is on his own hero’s journey in his story.

 

With a background in education, what qualities have you seen in books that tend to capture children’s imagination? 

Kids tend to be drawn into stories that transport them to other world(s). Writers can do this by focusing on their audience and writing at a level that encourages growth in understanding and vocabulary. Continuous action without long drawn out description is equally important. Young readers also love to read about characters that they can identify with either in age, situation, or experience. Take poetry as an example. Many readers—young and old—have a difficult time with understanding poetry in meaning and vocabulary. The main reason for this is that readers bring to a written piece of work their personal experiences. If they are unable to relate to the poem’s topic or the vocabulary is several levels above where they are reading, chances are good that the poem won’t be finished or even tried again. The same works for stories, fiction and non-fiction.

 

What three things should a first time visitor to Colorado do? 

Getting up into our Colorado Rocky Mountains is a must whether it’s summer or winter. Colorado has 53—although some say more—peaks over 14,000 feet (4267.2 meters) in height. Hiking or snow skiing in the Rockies is an experience not found elsewhere.

Southwestern Colorado has some of the best examples of Native American ruins in the US. Mesa Verde with its cliff dwellings is not to be missed.

If visiting in spring or summer, taking in a concert at the world-renowned Red Rocks Amphitheater is an experience of a lifetime. The best of the music world have performed on this outdoor venue including The Beatles, Mumford & Sons, and James Taylor. The entire metro Denver area is visible from the seats as well as the start of the eastern plains.

 

What can we expect from Cheryl Carpinello in the next 12 months? SONS OF THE SPHINX_front

After spending the last two years in ancient Egypt, I’m back in Medieval England working on the second of three Guinevere books. Guinevere: On the Eve of Legend was meant to be a stand-alone. Over the last five years, I’ve had readers contact me wanting to know when the next book about this young princess would be done. Also, Guinevere’s young friend Cedwyn has been whispering in my ear. Seems he really does have his heart set on becoming a knight! So, I’ve given into the pressure and am just finishing the first draft of Guinevere: At the Dawn of Legend—Cedwyn’s Story. At this time, it looks like very late in 2015 or early in 2016 for a release date.

 

Where can readers and fans connect with you? 

I have three websites:

Blog: Carpinello’s Writing Pages http://carpinelloswritingpages.blogspot.com where I interview children/MG/YA authors. Readers can find your interview there.

Author Site: Beyond Today Educator http://www.beyondtodayeducator.com

3-Author Site: The Quest Books http://www.adventurequestbooks.com where I team up with South African MG author Fiona Ingram and Abu Dhabi MG author Wendy Leighton-Porter. New subscribers to our monthly newsletter get to choose a free eBook from all our eBooks.

 

Social Media:

Good Reads:   http://www.goodreads.com/cherylcarpinello

Twitter Home Page: https://twitter.com/ccarpinello

Linkedin Page:  www.linkedin.com/pub/cheryl-carpinello/25/671/a02

Google URL: https://plus.google.com/110918922081424857545/

Pinterest:  http://www.pinterest.com/ccarpine/

Facebook:  https://www.facebook.com/cheryl.carpinello1

 

Any advice for authors out there who are either just starting out or getting frustrated with the industry? 

Write because you love to write, not to get rich. Writing is a long uphill climb.

Write the type of story you love to read, not what is popular.

Be passionate about your audience.

Thank you, David, for having me.

 

The pleasure was all mine Cheryl. I liked what you said about observation and listening being highly beneficial when it comes to writing good dialogue. Do connect with Cheryl at one of the links she provided. I did a short piece on Cheryl’s latest book – Sons of Sphinx. Be sure to share this interview on your social network and leave a comment below.

 

10 Comments on Interview with MGLit Author – Cheryl Carpinello, last added: 2/7/2015
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8. Author Interview with KD Forsman

Welcome, welcome, welcome.KD FORSMAN Its Author Interview Thursday and another wonderful opportunity to get to know an author whose shaking and baking somewhere on God’s green earth. Today’s special guest comes from the beautiful nation of New Zealand. She’s a first time author and her book – Fraud & Fabrication – was published a couple of days ago. She’s encountered some unique challenges on the road to getting her novel published and I’m so excited she gets to spill the beans on how she navigated those speed bumps. She’s also an avid reader and blogger and does all she can to support writers. She’s ready and I know I’m ready, so without further ado, please join me in welcoming KD Forsman.

 

Can you tell us a little bit about yourself and the first time someone complemented you on something you had written.

I was born in the UK and immigrated to New Zealand with my family at the age of four. I have lived in the Waikato region which some may know as ‘middle earth’ from the Lord of the Rings trilogy. For most of my life I have been a keen horsewoman, and enjoyed a range of equestrian activities, dressage, endurance, hunting and everything in between. I have a wonderful husband and between us we have four grown up ‘children’, so I guess we’re your typical empty nesters. These days our ‘babies’ are our two dogs; Max, a fox terrier, and; Jimmy Choo, a Chihuahua cross.

I’m a project manager by day and a freelance writer, blogger and ebook author by night. I have done a lot of voluntary work in the past for organisations including; Arts Waikato and Riding for Disabled, which involved writing content for their website and newsletters. Fraud & Fabrication is my first attempt into the unfamiliar territory of fiction writing… as for complements; I’m sure my readers will be quick to judge either way!

  

What can a reader expect when they pick up a book written by KD Forsman?

A book that is readable and one that they can relate to.

Fraud & Fabrication is centred a wealthy racing family and reveals that underneath the veneer of success, the Leighton’s have everyday issues, drama, personality clashes and family secrets. It is spiced with a bit of romance, but the book is not a classic romance novel in the true sense of the word; the genre would be more women’s contemporary drama. Whilst I hope the story is entertaining for my readers, the underlying theme is about uncovering the truth and making a life changing decision… rightly or wrongly.

  

Your first book – ‘Fraud & Fabrication’ has just been released. Can you tell us about any challenges you encountered while writing and how you overcame them?Fraud and Fabrication

My biggest challenge was writing the love scenes. It took me a month to get past one particular chapter, but in the end I threw caution to the wind and just went for it. Then I let a girlfriend read it (big mistake) and I ended up re-writing it completely. After wasting a lot of time and angst, on something that really didn’t matter; I finally came to the conclusion that you should never let close family or friends read your draft until it is completed. Big lesson for a newbie!

 

Can you tell us a little bit about Fraud & Fabrication’ and if you’ll consider doing a series?

Fraud & Fabrication is the first of the Leighton Park series, about the wealthy and eccentric Leighton family, their successful horse racing empire and their closely guarded family secrets.

I knew I had to get serious about my writing when I realised the characters in my head were not going to leave me in peace. They’re a bunch of crazies, but they’re my crazies. A couple of story ideas had been percolating in my imagination for a number of years. In the end I thought it would be interesting to mush them all together and see what I could cook up. The result is Fraud & Fabrication. Seeing this book through to fruition was amazing and even I was surprised at how the ending turned out.

 

How critical was having a copy editor/proof-reader in getting your book published?

Absolutely paramount. As mentioned, I let a couple of close friends/family read the first draft which did sway the final product. However this feedback was nothing compared to the ‘polish’ a professional editor was able to provide me with. Despite the fact that I’d read and re-read, spell checked and triple checked my manuscript before I sent it to my editor; she was still able to provide huge improvements to the overall readability of the story. She also picked up numerous errors and typos that I had overlooked. As writers we can be completely blind to our common mistakes – it’s just the way we are wired. I got huge value from an independent, professional editing service and would never ever skip this step. I want my readers to enjoy a quality product when they order and read my books.

  

What three things should writers avoid when writing dialogue?

  1. Being too formal – not writing how the character would speak
  2. Overuse of dialogue tags – he said, she said, John said etc.
  3. Underusing dialogue. Dialogue is a great way to set the pace of the story and get important information across quickly, keeping the reader interested and engaged with the story.

  

What book or film has the best dialogue that inspires you to be a better writer and why?KD FORSMAN ON A HORSE

Gosh that was a hard question! 

Film – I’d have to say Silence of the Lambs; “A census taker once tried to test me. I ate his liver with some fava beans and a nice Chianti.”

Book – One I read recently which was extremely memorable was Gone Girl; it had a great dialogue, fantastic plot which kept the reader guessing all the way to the end.

Gone Girl’s parody Go Away Girl was equally as good, extremely witty with some memorable laugh out loud moments – I’d definitely recommend both books, read the real one first!

 

Toy Story or Shrek?

Shrek without a doubt. I can so relate to the princess and the donkey.

 

You’ve been blogging since 2008. What have you found paramount in maintaining a successful blog.

  1. Writing on a topic I enjoy
  2. Regular posts – at least one post per week
  3. Being generous with my time for others. I offer a free book tweeting service for fellow authors and this has really helped build a readership for my blog. In an information rich society, the only way to stand out from the crowd is to be willing to truly engage with others and pay it forward.

  

What three things should a first time visitor to New Zealand do?

New Zealand is a unique location with something to suit every age and stage… I found it exceptionally hard to narrow down three things, but here goes;

  • Trout fishing at Lake Taupo
  • Surf lessons in Raglan (home of the legendary left hand break and black sand)
  • Annual Marlborough Food & Wine Festival

 

What can we expect from KD Forsman in the next 12 months?Fraud and Fabrication Books

I am hoping to finish the second book of the Leighton Park series which will centre more on one of the more colourful characters from book one, who else but the amazing Cheree! She has so many layers to her, I’m looking forward to unravelling that a bit further and seeing what we can find.

 

Where can readers and fans connect with you?

Email               kdforsman@outlook.co.nz

Web                 www.kdforsman.com

Twitter             https://twitter.com/mybookreviewsnz

Facebook         https://www.facebook.com/kdforsman

 

Any advice for authors out there who are either just starting out or getting frustrated with the industry?

Do what it takes to get the job done!

For me, that meant scoping out the entire outline of ‘Fraud & Fabrication’ before I wrote a single word. It made it so much easier and gave me a roadmap to let the story unfold. It also made a huge difference to my writing and helped me take my story from an idea concept to an actual plot to a first draft. This worked for me, but I realise that everyone is different. I made a conscious choice to get serious about my writing in May 2014 and worked with ‘book midwife’ Maria Carlton to get me on the way to completing my first draft. Without that help, I’d probably still be thinking about it now.

I read somewhere recently that to be a successful author, you need to write more books. I totally believe this, and realise now that publishing my first book doesn’t mean ‘I’ve now made it’ as an author!

 

I couldn’t agree more with you Karen. This writing gig is definitely a journey and not a destination. I loved what you said about having a copy editor being paramount to the success and completion of your book. I think sometimes copy editors and proof readers are sometimes the unsung heroes who can make all the difference to a novel. You can enter to win a copy of Fraud and Fabrication on GoodReads. If you can’t wait, feel free to grab a copy on Amazon. Remember to leave a comment below and share this interview using the Social buttons.

2 Comments on Author Interview with KD Forsman, last added: 1/31/2015
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9. Interview with Kidlit Author – C.L. Murphy

Its back! Author Interview Thursday is back for the first part of the year and I’d like you to get ready for some inspiring authors who will not only provide the necessary fuel to turbo-charge your writing career to another level but will also offer tips, personal stories and current industry trends.CL Murphy - Childrens book Author Today in the hotseat, we have a lady who I met on Twitter. She absolutely and truly gets Twitter and to observe her interaction with fans and fellow authors on that social media platform is truly remarkable. She’s forever drawing attention to other authors books but guess what? The spotlight is firmly on her today. I’ve learned so much from her from afar and I’m glad I get the chance to ask the questions I’ve always wanted to ask her. So without further ado, please join me in welcoming C.L. Murphy.

 

Can you tell us a little bit about yourself and the first time someone complemented you on something you had written.

Whilst some may call me an author, I consider myself more of an illustrator. The first time I received recognition for something I created was in the third grade when I won a school wide poster contest. I lost my focus from art after my Mom died when I was 12. She was a talented artist and some of the happier times that I recall from early childhood, were of her creativity.  It wasn’t until my last year of high school that I was encouraged again by the teachers who told me that art was what I needed to be doing. I went on to college with a concentration in design. My creative spirit has led me down many paths, but none as rewarding as creating children’s picture books. One of those paths led me to paint a mural or two (or twenty). Colourful jungle critters “keep the beat” in this mural that I painted on a children’s music classroom wall.

 

What can a reader expect when they pick up a book written by C.L. Murphy?CL Scribbles 1

I hope readers will fall in love with the lovable wolf pup character that I’ve created. He’s a kind lil’ fellow that loves all creatures and wouldn’t think of harming any of them. Uniquely, he considers himself a herbivore. He and his kooky, right-hand(wing) raven, Roxy, will take children on adventures in the great outdoors, introducing them to animals, all while trying to be true to his kind and curious nature.

 

You write and illustrate your books. Can you tell us your process in terms of what comes first and pertinent advice for other children’s book authors looking to illustrate their stories?

Because I am such a visual person, I always have the story envisioned in my mind prior to beginning. I start by sketching the story on paper and then creating the new characters digitally. The characters seem to speak to me during this part of the process as they come to life in my mind. I cannot give any advice to others because that would make me appear if I were some kind of expert. If anything, I’d say; find your style and keep crafting it.

 

Cathy, you’re the absolute master when it comes to Twitter. Can you give us a few tips on connecting with fans and authors on Twitter and how its been beneficial to you as an author?

Master? I’m just another twit on twitter. Haha! I do have fun, though, and enjoy the social platform. I find the 140 character limit a perfect format to connect with people.  I have benefited from Twitter by meeting and forming friendships with delightful people from all over the world. Many authors, teachers, readers, parents and creative folk are out there in Twitterland ready and willing to connect and share. They all brighten my day. I love following fellow KidLit tweeps but also appreciate those that enjoy life. I am interested in many things and what people have to say. Be kind and curious, just like Lobo’s character, and other tweeps will engage.

 

What were some of your favourite books as a child?Sunny the Sand Angel

Favorites? I can find merit with any book and I dislike playing favorites. It’s like asking me which of my sons is my favorite child. I love them dearly for different reasons. I owned a decent sized collection of books as a child and I would play librarian with the assortment. I categorized my books (which is surprising because I’m not what you’d call orderly) and taped check out slips in every single one. My library “stamp” was the family Christmas greeting that was used to stamp our signature on our yearly greeting cards. Oh, how I’d love to to find one of the books with the imprint of Merry Christmas from Bill, Bette, Carol & Cathy Lou, stamped in it. Those ALL would be my favorites!

 

You’re a member of SCBWI (Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators). Would you advise other children’s book authors and illustrators to join and how has it helped you? 

I’m a member of a fairly new branch of an Oregon chapter. We don’t assemble as much as I’d like, but when we do, I always leave the meeting enthused about what I’ve learned and anxious to use the knowledge. The society is a wonderful wealth of information and I would highly recommend any author or illustrator to join their local chapter. I feel it is almost mandatory to join if you want to stay involved with the industry.

 

How do you reward yourself once your book is published?Lovable Lobo North Pole

Once a book is available to readers, the work is far from over, so there’s no time to celebrate. A successful launch includes promotions and honest reviews in hopes that others take note. You hope that children and their parents will like, or better yet, LOVE, what you’ve poured your heart and soul into. The BEST reward is when something you’ve created is appreciated!

 

What is your favourite Hollywood Animal film and why?

There you go asking me to play favorites again, David. As a child, the movie Bambi, made quite an impact on me. I’d listen to the story on a record player over and over again. I had a pet rabbit that I named Thumper based on one of the movie’s characters. I enjoy animated movies and ones that capture your imagination. I’ll always be a kid at heart with a soft spot for the furry and the feathered.

 

What three things should a first time visitor to Oregon do?

Oregon has so much to offer! There’s outdoor activities galore, available year round, in every corner of the state! A visit to Crater Lake National Park is a must. If you’re a fan of live theatre, then world renowned, Oregon Shakespeare Festival can’t be missed. We’re famous for our microbreweries and wine regions, if you partake. Don’t get me started on the local cuisine!  How does some warm MARIONBERRY cobbler à la mode or a chocolate HAZELNUT torte or a PEAR upside-down gingerbread cake with caramel drizzle sound? Oops. I think my sweet tooth is showing.

 

Lovable, who is the main character in your popular series – The Adventures of Lovable Lobo – was inspired by a wolf you raised for 14 years. Can you tell us something we possibly don’t know about wolves?musicroom

I could perhaps tell you everything you’d ever want to know (or not) about wolves. Okay, that’s not true. I believe them to be magnificent, intelligent creatures with a very caring social structure. Interestingly, the wolf has inspired many legends and stories, their imagery is present in many cultures and even prehistoric man left evidence of their existence. Did you know that wolves are one of the few animals that communicate using a great range of facial expressions?

 

With Christmas just gone, can you tell us the most memorable gift you received growing up?

A very memorable gift was a copy of The Wizard of Oz book that I received from an aunt at Christmas. Memorable, because I found it creepy. That wicked witch gave me nightmares as did the house coming down and squishing her. And those flying monkeys! I appreciate that the newer story’s adaptions have lessened the creepiness, but back then, I hid the book from sight. I did want a pair of those ruby slippers, though.

 

What can we expect from C.L. Murphy in the next 12 months?Lobo Huddling

Lovable Lobo will go on another adventure. I have two stories in the works. They are fighting amongst themselves and the strongest shall prevail. I’m hoping to announce a BIG surprise, that no one will see coming, sometime in 2015 but it may not happen until 2016.

 

Where can readers and fans connect with you?

 

Website: http://lovablelobo.com

Blog: http://lovablelobo.wordpress.com

Twitter: https://twitter.com/LovableLobo

Facebook:  https://www.facebook.com/pages/Lovable-Lobo

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/6852948.C_L_Murphy

Pinterest: http://www.pinterest.com/murphymess

Google+: https://plus.google.com/u/0/+CLMurphyKidLit

 

Any advice for authors out there who are either just starting out or getting frustrated with the industry?Lobo Goes to the Galapagos

I waited until my sons went off to college to start the journey even though I had plenty of ideas. When they were young, they were always a source of inspiration. I’d take my notebook along and write and draw during our outings. For instance, they liked to fish. I did not. I took that opportunity to create in between baiting hooks. Ah, worm guts. Nature can be so inspiring! The point is; I could have started back then. Could have. Would have. Should have.

It is both an exciting and interesting time in the publishing world. Never has it been so easy to self-publish and that has created a glut of self-published books on the market, with absolutely NO filter. How do you stand out amongst the gazillions? You produce a quality product and develop a loyal fan base whether you’re traditionally published or not. It is not easy, as I’m sure you know all too well, David. It takes dedication and an inordinate amount of time. If you love what you do, you keep doing it. Don’t be afraid to make mistakes but learn from them when you do, try new things, make new connections, stay informed and see where it takes you, but NEVER give up. That’s my strategy and I’m sticking with it.

Thank you, David, for this opportunity to share.

 

The pleasure was all mine Cathy. I like how you ended by encouraging us never to give up. It sometimes seems like the time is never perfect to begin that dream. Sadly, things will never be perfect for us to begin that dream and the best time to start is usually now. Please connect with Cathy at the links she provided above and let her know you got to know her through my interview with her. She currently has two books about Lovable Lobo that you can get on Amazon and other Online Retailers. Kindly leave a question or comment below so Cathy and I know you stopped by.

11 Comments on Interview with Kidlit Author – C.L. Murphy, last added: 1/25/2015
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10. Player Profile: Paula Hawkins, author of The Girl On The Train

Paula Hawkins, author of The Girl On The Train Tell us about your latest creation: The Girl on the Train is psychological thriller which examines the fine line between normality and the loss of control wrought by addiction. It’s all about how when you peel back the veneer of everyday life, you can find something really quite disturbing just underneath… […]

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11. Hello 2015!

I don’t know about you, but so far, 2015 has been a good year. Okay, so we’re only nine days into it, but hey, it’s nice to start out on a good note! For starters, next week is the Celebration of Local Authors which I’m excited to be a part of. I’ll be there all […]

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12. Author Interview with Krysten Lindsay Hager

It’s Author Interview Thursday and I’m happy and sad. I’m sad because today will be our last interview for the year but I’m super happy because we have a full roaster of inspiring authors lined up for the new year.Krysten Lindsay Hager Some of the authors lined up for 2015, have been admired by yours truly from afar and I’m so glad we both get a chance to learn something new and inspiring. On the hot seat today is a lady from the beautiful state of Ohio. She is an international bestselling author and her book ‘True Colors’ has gained a fanbase on several continents. She writes in different genres and loves making authors look good. I’m so glad she’s with us today and please have her name etched somewhere on your medulla oblongata as I believe you’ll be hearing more of it in the days to come. She has a lot to share with us today, so please join me in welcoming Krysten Lindsay Hager.

 

Can you tell us a little bit about yourself and the first time someone complemented you on something you had written?

I’m a writer who used to work in journalism. The first time I got attention for something I wrote was when I won a writing contest in the first grade. I won a little clown doll (a cute one, not one of those scary ceramic clowns that can give a kid nightmares) for a school-wide essay contest.

 

What can a reader expect when they pick up a book written by Krysten Lindsay Hager?

I always write with humor because even the most difficult times in life are easier to take with a little humor.

 

What role would you say social media plays in building an author’s platform and have you found it helpful in marketing your books? True Colors Book Cover

I think it helps people know who you are as a person and a bit of what they can expect from your work. A lot of people who knew me before reading the book have said, “Oh, I can hear you in the novel.” Some people have said when Landry and her mom argue in the book about Landry modelling that you can hear me with my adult view of modelling versus my view of it at Landry’s age.

 

You write in multiple genres like Young Adult, Middle Grade and Adult Fiction. Has this created any unique challenges and how have you overcome them?

The only difference is some of the themes you touch on. I wouldn’t use anything political in a middle grade/YA book, but I can do that in an adult piece. And obviously any dating situation is different. But a lot of the emotions stay the same no matter what the age.

 

What were some of your favourite books as a child? 

I love Judy Blume’s Just as Long as We’re Together, My Mother was Never a Kid by Francine Pascal, The Great Mom Swap by Betsy Haynes, and Goodbye, Glamour Girl by Erika Tamar. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve re-read those books.

 

What book or film has the best dialogue that inspires you to be a better writer and why?

F. Scott Fitzgerald has such a way with dialogue. The Great Gatsby is a favourite. I’ll never understand why they assign it in middle school though. I didn’t appreciate it until later in life.

 

How do you reward yourself once your book is published? talk show set

I may have bought myself a bracelet and a necklace, but I can justify them both since the bracelet is similar to the one Landry wears in the True Colors (with a heart charm) and the butterfly necklace will appear in the sequel, Best Friends...Forever?

 

Toy Story or Shrek?

Toy Story all the way.

 

What three things should a first time visitor to Ohio do?

Well, I’m a book lover so I’m going to say check out Joseph-Beth Booksellers and Books & Co—both gorgeous bookstores. There’s an Air Force museum here and I personally love the train museum with all the little miniature displays of houses and towns. I have to say though that it throws me not living near the Great Lakes though. I’m from Michigan and I miss the lakes so I try to get home when I can.

 

With Christmas around the corner, can you tell us the most memorable gift you received growing up?  On a TV Show

I know I should say something like the gift of family togetherness, but let’s be honest, what can beat a Barbie Dream House? Kudos to my dad who spent ALL day putting that thing together…and was an awesome Ken…even if he spoke in a falsetto voice whenever he was Ken.

 

What can we expect from Krysten Lindsay Hager in the next 12 months?

I have a sequel to True Colors called, Best Friends…Forever? (Book 2: Landry’s True Colors series) coming out in 2015. I’m also working on another MG book, two YA ones and an adult humor novel. And I’m working on the third Landry book in the Landry’s True Colors series.

 

Where can readers and fans connect with you?

My website: http://www.krystenlindsay.com/

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/KrystenLindsayHagerAuthor

Twitter: https://twitter.com/KrystenLindsay

Instagram: http://instagram.com/krystenlindsay

Amazon author page: http://www.amazon.com/Krysten-Lindsay-Hager/e/B00L2JC9P2/ref=ntt_athr_dp_pel_1

 

Any advice for authors out there who are either just starting out or getting frustrated with the industry? TrueColorsbannerwebsite

If a writer is just starting out then I’d suggest taking a literature class to learn from the best—the classics. I’d also say to take as many classes on writing, literature as you can as well as going to conferences and workshops. You can never learn enough. If you’re getting frustrated then I’d say to write the story you want to read and not worry about whether or not it gets published. Take all that pressure off yourself and enjoy the whole writing process. The work will be a lot better that way and that will increase your chances of publication. Even if it doesn’t get published, the focus should be on the journey, not the destination.

 

Awesome! Thanks for not holding back and sharing so much from your journey. I think as authors we sometimes get frustrated and it’s because we take our eyes off of the ‘main thing’ – our calling to write. Please connect with Krysten at one of the links she provided. Check out Krysten’s books and grab a copy for yourself or a loved one. Also remember to share this interview using the social buttons below and leave a comment. Merry Christmas!

7 Comments on Author Interview with Krysten Lindsay Hager, last added: 12/18/2014
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13. In the Limelight with MG Author: Derek Thompson…

I want to thank magnificent middle grade author, Derek Thompson for sharing his personal writing journey with us on my blog today. Derek’s book Superhero Club can be purchased from Musa Publishing, Amazon, and other on-line bookstores. Bonus: For a chance to win an ecopy of Superhero Club please check out the Rafflecopter at the end of this post. So let’s get this interview started…

Welcome, Derek! How long have you been writing?

I lovedwriting stories as a young child, and the way you could start to create a world or a situation that then, somehow, pulled you into it. My interest in novel writing really took hold in my teens. Writing became a way of exploring ideas, making sense of the world around me, and finding out who I was.

Very inspiring for younger writers! Where did you get your idea and inspiration to write Superhero Club?

Generally, I start with the central character and what I learn about them takes the story forward. In the case of Jo, once I understood her that gave me the main challenges and relationships.

I was an exam invigilator at a local school, which also included one-to-one support for children with additional educational needs (reading, handwriting or explaining some key words and terms). Being back in a school environment allowed me to see how real children behave with one another, and it also made me think about my own schooldays.

Putting all that together, I wanted to create fully realised, living, breathing characters that readers would care about enough to share their journey.

Sounds like you’ve done a top-notch job! What sets Superhero Club apart from other books/series in the same genre?

That's a good question! Superhero Club is set in the present day and touches upon some of the issues that young people face: self-image, bullying, fitting in at school, food issues and modern families. All that said, the book also deals with the importance of friendship, creativity, transformation and self-acceptance. It's written with humour and, first and foremost, is an entertaining read that will have you rooting for Jo, the main character. My hope is that it will also stimulate discussion about the issues raised and encourage anyone who is having any of Jo's challenges to talk to someone about it.

Hmm…I bet a readers’ guide for this book would be a great investment! As a middle grade author, what is your writing process?

The character came first and once I 'heard' her voice clearly it as a case of allowing her to tell her own story. I didn't have a fixed idea about where the story was heading until about halfway through the writing.
 
How long did it take for you to start and finish Superhero Club?

Once I understood Jo and her situations it was a fairly smooth process - I'd say around a month to put it together and then refine it. There were some ideas I had originally that, on further reflection, were too ambitious for this book. However, they may reach the page in some other form in the future.
 
A month? Wish I had your typing fingers! Do you have any advice for other writers striving to write in your genre, Derek?

The most important thing is to understand the lives of young people, as well as what they are reading. Stories need to be relevant to your readers, and emotions need to be authentic. One aspect of fiction that's largely overlooked, I think, is its capacity for enabling and encouraging us to feel. Emotional literacy is as important as literacy itself.

Above all, write! Worry about all the other stuff later - the editing and pacing can all be worked on, but only if you have a completed story to work with. I'd also say that it's important to have fun with it. Make your readers laugh, cry, think differently and even gasp with surprise.

Get feedback from young people and school staff if you can - it will give you valuable insight into how your ideas and your writing are received.

Truly, it’s all about how you make readers feel. Wonderful advice! So, what’s next for Derek Thompson the author?

I've written two contemporary adult British thrillers (I'm a Brit) that are under review by a UK publisher - best described as an updated British noir. I've also written a standalone transatlantic comedy drama, loosely based on a year I spent living the American Dream in New York and California.

As regards writing for children, I have some early draft books that need dusting off, and I'm now thinking about another adventure for Jo and the Superhero Club.

All things considered, 2015 is going to be an exciting writing year!

Wishing you all the best in 2015, Derek! Okay, here’s one for me, since I’m writing a time travel series—If you could time travel anywhere into Earth’s past, where would you go and why?

Well, having grown up with Dr Who, time travel has always held a bit of a fascination for me. I'm going to be greedy and choose three journeys through time:

I'd like to go back into my own timeline (always tricky!), to see myself as a child and to see my family again at that time. Part curiosity and part therapy!

Next, it would have to be Ancient Egypt. I've been on two trips to Egypt and felt a real sense of connection with the Egyptian history and culture. In particular, Karnak temple at Luxor at the height of its influence and the wondrous Nile would be an amazing sight.

Lastly, I'd love to see a glimpse of Victorian London, when the railways were the lifeblood of the nation and the London Underground was developing. I would walk along cobbled streets and read about the adventures of a certain Mr. Sherlock Holmes.
    
Mini synopsis for Superhero Club:

You only find out you're a butterfly if you spread your wings.

Twelve year-old Jo has never fit in at school, what with being overweight and over-sensitive. Since Dad moved out, Mom forgets who's who in the whole mother-daughter relationship. Jo has one ambition in life: to be normal. Not gifted, or gorgeous, or even particularly popular. Just normal.

When Jo's counselor offers her a lifeline, there's a bunch of other misfits sharing the rope. Group sessions could help them to help each other, but Chris doesn't like speaking and Alistair's a self-confessed geek. Like Stevie, the joker, says, “Oh yeah, right bunch of bloody superheroes we are!”

Sometimes the most heroic thing is to trust a group of strangers, who also have a lot at stake. Jo may find the unlikeliest of friends, and a way to transform her life from the inside. The Superhero Club could give her all that in the blink of an eye. Well, maybe a double-blink!

Sales links:




Connect with Derek:


Pinterest link showing covers and sales link for my books, ors book that contains some of my writing: http://www.pinterest.com/derekwriter/derek-thompsons-books/


Twitter: @DerekWriteLines

Author Bio:

Derek is an adventurer with words, creating fiction, non-fiction and comedy material. He believes in the power of the imagination and the magic of 'what if' to open our eyes to possibility. He is also a magazine columnist and freelancer - see his blog for details.

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14. In The Limelight with MG/YA Author Cheryl Carpinello…

I want to thank magnificent middle grade/young adult author, Cheryl Carpinello for sharing her personal writing journey with us on my blog today. Cheryl’s book Sons of the Sphinx can be purchased from Amazon, and other major on-line bookstores. Welcome, Cheryl! So let’s get this interview started…

How long have you been writing, Cheryl?

Probably around 20 years, but I started writing for MG/YA readers about 10 years ago. Nothing I wrote in those first 10 years will ever be published.

Never say never, Cheryl! Wink. Where did you get your idea and inspiration to write Sons of the Sphinx?

We had visited Egypt in 2008 and that started me thinking. However, it wasn’t until 2010 when the Tutankhamen exhibit was in the US that I thought seriously about writing a book set back in ancient Egypt.

Egypt is definitely on my bucket list. What sets Sons of the Sphinx apart from other books/series in the same genre?

I believe it is the fact that this isn’t just an historical adventure story full of action and danger. It is also a story of a young teenager trying to come to grips with who she is and how she fits in the world around her. Ages 14-18 are stressful years for kids, more than most people would think. Any trait that sets a teen outside of the norm can be devastating, and Rosa, the main character, has just such a distinction. She can hear dead people, and her classmates know this. This makes for some tough times for Rosa.

Hear dead people? Now you’ve got me hooked! As a middle grade/young adult author, what is your writing process?

I do a lot of brain work before I start a story. Once I have a basic idea and outline in my head, then I write that out—when I say write, I mean in long hand. Then it’s back to mulling the idea over in my head for a while longer until I can sit down and write out a chapter by chapter outline. Once the outline is finished, I start writing the story. My goal is always to write the first draft without worrying about changes or omissions. Each day before writing I do type the previous writing on the computer without making any edits. If I find that something is not working, then I change from that point on. I don’t go back over previous entered material. Once the first draft is done, I start rewrites and do any additional research. From that point on, it’s a breeze! Just read, rewrite, edit, rewrite, and so on. My story always goes through my personal editor at least three times. Then a professional editor goes through another three or four rounds with me.

Wow, I don’t think readers realize the leg-work authors must do to write a book! Thanks for sharing your process, Cheryl. How long did it take for you to start and finish Sons of the Sphinx?

I started working on the idea in May 2010. Sons of the Sphinx was released in October 2014.

Do you have any advice for other writers striving to write in your genre, Cheryl?

Do your homework: research the time period you are writing in. While I saw Egypt firsthand, I did a ton of book research, and I went to the Tutankhamen exhibit three times. Even if you are creating your own story’s history/background, you need to know everything about it.

Good advice! What’s next for Cheryl Carpinello the author?

Right now I’m working on sequel to my first Arthurian tale Guinevere: On the Eve of Legend. I’ve also got the first book in my new trilogy series Feathers of the Phoenix over half finished.

Okay, here’s one for me, since I’m writing a time travel series—If you could time travel anywhere into Earth’s past, where would you go and why?

I don’t even need to think about this—the Ancient World 1000BC to 400BC. I love the Greeks, Romans, even Egyptians of that time period. I’m also keen to see Atlantis! Those eras gave modern man and society so much in the way of philosophy, government, art, science, that it had to be fascinating to be a part of those worlds.

Blurb for Sons of the Sphinx:

Armed with what she considers her grandmothers curse, 15-year-old Rosa agrees to help the ghost of King Tut find his lost queen Hesena. Though Hesenas ba inhabits part of Rosa, finding the whole spirit of Hesena so that she and Tut can be together for the first time in over 3300 years proves to be a harder task than Rosa first thinks. Thrust back into Ancient Egypt with Tut, Rosa discovers that finding Hesena is not all she must do. She must keep out of the reach of the living Horemhebwho crosses mortal boundaries using Seths evil magicif she is to stay alive to make it back home.


Buy Links for Sons of the Sphinx:






Cheryl Carpinello’s Author Sites:

Author Bio

I love the Ancient and Medieval Worlds! As a retired English teacher, I hope to inspire young readers to read more through my Quest Books. Please follow me on this adventure. Hook up with me on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Goodreads, and Google.


Also please visit my other sites: Carpinello's Writing Pages where I interview childrens/MG/Tween/YA authors; my home website Beyond Today Educator, and The Quest Books where I've teamed up with Fiona Ingram from South Africa and Wendy Leighton-Porter of England/France/Abu Dhabi to enable readers to find all of our Ancient and Medieval quest books in one place.

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15. The Wolf Chronicles: Guest Post by Dorothy Hearst

Thanks to Dorothy Hearst for answering some questions about her Wolf Chronicles series today! Stick around and check out the giveaway as well as the other stops on the blog tour. 


Five most common questions about The Wolf Chronicles

I often get questions from young people who have read The Wolf Chronicles. Here are answers to the questions I hear most:

Talking wolves? How did you get that idea? 

One day, I was thinking about dogs, and how remarkable it is that we’re so drawn to them and they’re so drawn to us. I wondered how that came to be. And I thought about wolves—about how so many people hate and fear them. Then, a voice in my head said “I should write about how the wolf became the dog from the wolf’s point of view.” No one else was in the apartment, so I took the idea for my own. I didn’t have much choice. The wolves really wanted their story told, and they can’t type, so it was up to me.

Was it hard to write a wolf narrator?

It was easy in some ways and challenging in others. I’d been trying to write for about ten years when I got the idea for TWC.  As soon as I started writing, Kaala’s voice was there. I realized that I had written about three pages in her voice ten years earlier. So I had a dog-like narrator in my head already. Then the work began.

I did my research on how wolves perceive the world, then experimented with different ways to make Kaala seem wolflike, but not so unfamiliar that she would be hard for readers to relate to. I played with it until I got it just how I wanted it.  

Which character is most like you?

I think that Kaala and Tlitoo are two sides of me. Kaala takes things seriously and is a bit of an outsider. Tlitoo is a jokester and impulsive, and can’t resist chaos. I found it interesting that these two parts of my personality came out in two very different characters.

How did you come up with the names?

Some characters just came with names, like Tlitoo (ravens deliberately chose difficult-to-pronounce names). I had to work at others. I would start with a name and write about that character for a while. Then, often, something about the name wouldn’t match the character, so I’d try another. Eventually I would find the right name.

Then, I needed to make sure that readers would know right away whether a wolf, raven, human or Greatwolf was talking. So I developed naming conventions for each one, an idea I got from Anne McCaffrey. All the wolves have double letters in their names, the Greatwolves’ names end in “dra” and “dru” (in honor of their ancestor, Indru), and the humans have their villages at the ends of their names.

How do you write a whole book?

Keep on going. Most people think that if their first drafts aren’t good it means they can’t write. People also think that if it’s hard, they’re doing it wrong. Both are untrue. You have to get through the bad stuff to get to the good stuff, and writing seems hard because it’s hard. Just keep working at it.  It’s the only way to get to the end.


About Promise of the Wolves

WHAT IS THE PROMISE OF THE WOLF?
NEVER CONSORT WITH HUMANS
NEVER KILL A HUMAN UNPROVOKED
NEVER ALLOW A MIXED-BLOOD WOLF TO LIVE

At least that's what the wolves of the Wide Valley believe. Until a young wolf dares to break the rules--and forever alters the relationship between wolves and the humans who share their world.

This is the story of such a wolf. Born of a forbidden mixed-blood litter and an outcast after her mother is banished, Kaala is determined to earn a place in the Swift River pack. But her world is turned upside down when she saves a human girl from drowning. Risking expulsion from their pack and exile from the Wide Valley, Kaala and her young packmates begin to hunt with the humans and thus discover the long-hidden bond between the two clans. But when war between wolves and humans threatens, Kaala learns the lies behind the wolf's promise. Lies that force her to choose between safety for herself and her friends and the survival of her pack--and perhaps of all wolf- and human-kind.

Set 14,000 years ago, Promise of the Wolves takes us to a land where time is counted in phases of the moon, distance is measured in wolflengths, and direction by the scent of the nearest trail. Years of research into the world of wolves combines with mythical tale-telling to present a fantastical adventure set in a world filled with lore.


About the author

Before the wolves barged in the door, demanding that their story be told, Dorothy Hearst was an acquisitions editor at Jossey-Bass, where she published books for nonprofit, public, and social change leaders. She loves dogs but doesn’t have one, and borrows other people’s whenever she gets the chance. After seven years in New York City and nine years as a San Franciscan, Dorothy now lives in Berkeley, California.

Spirit of the Wolves, the third and final title in The Wolf Chronicles, will be released December 2. For more information, and to download free CCSS-aligned discussion questions for all three novels, visit her website www.dorothyhearst.com.


Giveaway

Simon & Schuster is pleased to offer a complete set of The Wolf Chronicles--PROMISE OF THE WOLVES, SECRETS OF THE WOLVES, AND SPIRIT OF THE WOLVES--to one lucky winner! (U.S. addresses only.) Giveaway ends December 20, 2014.

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Blog Tour Schedule

Check out all the stops on The Wolf Chronicles blog tour!

Mon, Dec 1 - Novel Novice

Tues, Dec 2 - The Book Monsters

Wed, Dec 3 - SLJ Teen

Thurs, Dec 4 - I Am a Reader, Not a Writer

Fri, Dec 5 - I Read Banned Books

Mon, Dec 8 - Library Fanatic

Tues, Dec 9 - YA Book Nerd

Wed, Dec 10 - Read Now, Sleep Later

Thurs, Dec 11 - The Brain Lair

Fri, Dec 12 - Unleashing Readers

Sat, Dec 13 - The Children's Book Review

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16. Interview with Nancy Viau and The Kid Lit Authors Club!

I first met Nancy Viau at a workshop she presented for the NJ chapter of the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators Conference in 2011.  Her middle grade book SAMANTHA HANSEN HAS ROCKS IN HER HEAD (Amulet 2008) had been published.  She, along with some fellow authors, were talking about their books and the group they’d formed called the Kid Lit Authors Club. Here’s Nancy:

First give me some of your own background and how you came to be a children’s book author.
I started writing down ideas and creating silly rhymes when my youngest was about three. I wasn’t sure what to do with the picture books (I use that term loosely because they weren’t even close to being picture books!) that rolled out of my head onto paper, so I joined SCBWI and sat in many, many sessions where I soaked up info on how to write, what to write, and where to send manuscripts. Early on I had success with Highlights, Highlights High Five, Babybug, Ladybug, etc. but no picture book acceptances. A friend encouraged me to write for an older audience so for a while I wrote Op-Ed articles for the Philly Inquirer, popular anthologies, and a mish-mash of parenting magazines. An idea for an older character lead to my middle-grade novel, Samantha Hansen Has Rocks in Her Head, and even after that was published, I never let go of the dream to be a picture book author.

Where and when did the idea for KIDLIT AUTHORS CLUB originate? What’s the philosophy/premise behind the group?
A year after my middle-grade novel came out (2009), I came to the realization that it’s not easy to promote a book and get author gigs. Publishers do not do a lot (*sigh), especially if your book is not a best-seller. Another author, Keri Mikulski, and I thought it might be a good idea to band together with a diverse group of picture book, middle-grade, and young adult authors to help spread the word about our titles. We wanted a book-signing or a general visit to be fun and interactive, an event the entire family could enjoy, and that we could enjoy, too. We wanted to make an irresistible buzz for our books, and never again find ourselves sitting alone at a book signing.           KidLit-logo jpeg

How many members and from what genres?
Membership fluctuates every year, but we try to keep a balance between PB, MG, and YA. Some years we have 20; sometimes we have as many as 26. We try not to go over 25 or 26 because what happens then is that people step back and let a select few do the work. We all work to find opportunities for signings and presentations by reaching out to librarians, booksellers, teachers, conference directors, festival organizers, and others.

How has being a member of the group changed the way you present and promote your books? What are the advantages of such a group?
I feel like I have a marketing team behind me. Whereas I am one individual who may find a way to promote my books, with the KidLit Authors Club behind me, I have 20+ others who are also promoting my books. Sure, I still do events by myself, but at those events I talk up members’ books, and hand out the club’s bookmarks and marketing materials. We share the love. Big time. A picture book author may come across an event suitable for YA authors and will pass it along. A middle-grade author may find an opportunity to appear on a panel, but picture book authors are needed as well. Voila, we’ve got that! We provide a multi-author resource for bookstore owners and conference or festival organizers looking to fill program spots.

Nancy Viau and Alison Formento, members of the Kid Lit Authors Club

Nancy Viau and Alison Formento, members of the Kid Lit Authors Club

What advice would you give other writers looking to collaborate and form a similar club?
Find others who enjoy getting the word out about their own books, but would be open to helping others do the same. Get together and hash out a plan of action. A marketing group made up of authors can take many forms. Look at groups such as the Liars Club or the “Class of” groups that started with the Class of 2k7 and continued on with the Tenners, Elevensies, and so on. I saw how successful my class was–the Class of 2k8, but felt that limiting a group to authors of novels was not in our best interest. Members of our club all benefit when seasoned authors mentor debut authors, older titles are mentioned in the same breath as current ones, and new titles are celebrated and given a presence.

Any final thoughts?
Working with a group of wonderful people who have the same passion and vision as you is priceless. (I sound like a MasterCard commercial…) It’s really hard being an author—harder than most people think, but it’s much more enjoyable when you don’t have to go it alone.

http://www.kidlitauthorsclub.com
Making every event a celebration of children’s books!     

Some Kid Lit Club Authors

Some Kid Lit Club Authors

Nancy Viau
Nancy Viau is the author of City Street Beat, Storm Song, and Look What I Can Do! (nominated for the 2014-2015 Keystone to Reading Book Award). Her middle-grade title, Samantha Hansen Has Rocks in Her Head, was published in 2008. Viau enjoys presenting assembly programs and writing workshops, and along with the young writers she meets, she finds inspiration in nature, travel, and her job as a librarian assistant.
Website: http://www.NancyViau.com

Facebook: Nancy Viau
Twitter: @NancyViau1


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17. Interview with Children’s Book Author – Claudine Gueh Yanting

Wow! Its Author Interview Thursday and I have to say that the authors in the hotseat these last few weeks have really been inspiring.Claudine Gueh Yanting Well, guess what? I think we might be taking it to another level with today’s special guest. I got introduced to our special guest by Stephanie Ward who organised a brilliant giveaway for children’s book authors back in Summer. She has a successful blog which she’s ran for about four years. What really intrigued me about her blog is that most of her posts attract a steady stream of comments from her loyal blog readers. She’s written several books that have received worthy mentions and reviews in high places. She has such a big heart and I know you’ll love meeting this children’s book author from Singapore. So without further ado, please join me in welcoming Claudine Gueh Yanting.

 

Can you tell us a little bit about yourself and the first time someone complemented you on something you had written. 

Thank you for this opportunity, David! It’s always good getting to know more authors and their books.

I’m a picture book and middle-grade fiction writer and an English tutor in Singapore. When I was 15, I wrote about my encounter with a spirit-medium. My teacher praised it and even read it out in class. That was a defining moment for me! 

 

What can a reader expect when they pick up a book written by Claudine Gueh Yanting?Brightness Sailors - Cover 

Quieter protagonists who don’t realize how strong they can be, and (hopefully) lyrical writing.

My picture books: My Clearest Me; Brightness Sailors, Bit by Bit

My middle-grade fiction: Little Orchid’s Sea Monster Trouble

More about them here: http://www.carryusoffbooks.com

 

What role would you say social media plays in building an author’s platform and have you found it helpful in marketing your books? 

It’s all about exposure, reaching potential readers and keeping old ones up-to-date with your next book. Although social media isn’t the sole place an author can build her platform, it is possibly an indispensable one these days. 

For me, social media has been useful for gaining exposure while blogging has been effective in gaining loyal readership (for the blog, not my books). Once readers trust my reading taste and writing style, they might be willing to take a chance on my books. Sales can’t be guaranteed, but credibility can be built and what it leads to can be amazing. 

 

What tips would you offer other children’s authors with regard to working with an illustrator? 

Pick one whose style fits what you seek instead of approaching any illustrator and then requesting them to paint in the style you want. 

Be clear with the fee, the number of revisions you need from her, and the deadline up front. Everything is negotiable, but you must only begin the project when both sides are comfortable with the terms. 

Be fair and respectful. Most illustrators are just as dedicated to the project as we are.

 

What in your opinion makes a great children’s book?

One that tells its story honestly (i.e. doesn’t talk down to children or try too hard to impress) and has great illustrations.

 

What were some of your favourite books as a child?  Art from Claudine's Book

My sisters and I devoured Enid Blyton’s books then we’d act out some of the scenes and pretend to be good friends with the characters. That’s why we were pals with an almost-deaf man who wore a saucepan on his head. On other days, we were best friends with a naughty, obstinate girl and her friend who could whistle like a kettle. “The Faraway Tree” and “The Wishing Chair” series were our favorite. I also enjoyed boarding school stories tremendously.

  

What book or film has the best dialogue that inspires you to be a better writer and why? 

Mark Helprin writes excellent dialogue. I was particularly stirred by his “Winter’s Tale” and “A Soldier of the Great War.” I can’t think of a film right now, but a TV series that I watch over and over again for its dialogue is “The West Wing.”

 

How do you reward yourself once your book is published? 

Cake. (Usually Black forest.)

 

Toy Story or Shrek? 

Toy Story. I’m a Studio Ghibli and Pixar fan.

  

Your blog’s been running for about four years and has a loyal fanbase. Any tips for us on how to build and grow a good blog? Facing Moon

I’m always surprised and extremely thankful that people actually read and follow my blog! Most of them are fellow writers and bloggers and we visit one another every week. As for tips on blogging, I’ve heard many and will just focus on these:

1) Blog on what you’re passionate about. (Wait, wait, don’t roll your eyes yet. I understand it sounds like “duh” but I do know of quite a few authors who blog on topics they think their readers want to learn about instead of what they themselves are excited about, so they end up sounding forced and quit blogging after a while.) Ask yourself: Is it books in particular? Which age category or genre? Is it about bridal hairstyles? Is it about relationships? You don’t have to limit yourself to just one category, but you do need a rough picket fence so readers would know if your posts fit their taste or not. 

2) Blog on what your readers want to know. Yep, this upsets whatever I’ve written in 1). But this suggestion might come in handy once you have a blog running for some time and you’ve built yourself to be a credible source on your topics. Ask your readers if they have any questions they’d like you to address. You’ll be their go-to expert.

3) Keep it short. 

4) Add pictures or quotes.  

5) Be consistent in posting. (This is something I still need to work on.)

  

What three things should a first time visitor to your home town do? Little Orchid Cover

1) Try our local breakfast: toast with thick butter and kaya (a coconut jam), two soft-boiled eggs and a cup of local coffee. 

2) Visit both hawker centers (our marketplaces and food centers) and independent cafes/restaurants.

3) Visit our libraries, especially those in the lush, neighborhood area.

 

What can we expect from Claudine Gueh Yanting in the next 12 months? 

Another middle-grade novel, short stories plus a few paintings. I have a budding interest in painting and hope to explore it more next year.

 

Where can readers and fans connect with you? 

Blog: http://www.carryusoffbooks.com/blog

FaceBook: https://www.facebook.com/CarryUsOff

Twitter: https://twitter.com/CarryUsOffBooks

Pinterest: https://www.pinterest.com/carryusoffbooks/

Google+: https://plus.google.com/u/0/107307586955978074011/posts

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/6937945.Claudine_Gueh_Yanting

If you enjoy picture books, middle-grade stories and picture-and-quote inspirations, do drop by my blog some time. I’d love to hear from you.

 

Any advice for authors out there who are either just starting out or getting frustrated with the industry? Waiting - Final

If writing makes you happy, keep going. Learn to market yourself and your writing, but don’t let sales, reviews, rankings and what-not affect you too much. Keep working hard. Let go of the rest.

 

Thanks for taking out time to be with us today Claudine. I like your encouragement for us never to allow sales or rankings  affect what to do. Also, while its a word most authors don’t like, the truth is we need to learn to market ourselves and our books better to reach that audience that will find great delight in our writings. You can connect with Claudine at one of the links she offered and do drop by her blog to read one of her insightful posts. We’ll be glad to read your comments or questions and remember to share this interview using the social buttons below. One of Claudine’s books will definitely be a great addition to a loved ones’ library, so grab a copy at the link below.

Claudine Gueh Yanting Books on Amazon

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18. In the Limelight with MG Author: S. J. Henderson...

I want to thank and welcome magnificent middle grade author, S.J. Henderson for sharing her personal writing journey with us on my blog today. S.J.’s book DANIEL THE DRAW-ER can be purchased from Amazon, and other on-line bookstores. Bonus: Stay tuned for a chance to win an ecopy or audiobook of DANIEL THE DRAW-ER at the end of this post. So let’s get this interview started…

How long have you been writing, Jen?

I think I learned to write just about when everyone else did… kindergarten. Which is funny, because I remember sitting down at my desk the first day and being told to do something—I didn’t hear the teacher because I was probably talking. So I peeked over at my neighbor and copied his work (I know, I know!).When I was done, I looked down and discovered I’d written “Nathan” on top of my paper. We were practicing writing our names! I still struggle with putting the proper name on my papers. Just kidding.

But, seriously, I’ve been writing stories since elementary school. I used to fill hundreds of wide-ruled notebook pages with my nonsense, then the nonsense would make its rounds in my classroom when all of us were supposed to be listening to lectures. I let writing go for a while in favor of family obligations, but one day the absence of words really got to me. That was about 3-1/2 years ago, to make a short answer very long…

I see. So, Nathan, er S.J., where did you get your idea and inspiration to write DANIEL THE DRAW-ER?

I got the idea for DANIEL from my kids. Last fall I participated in an online writing course called The Story Cartel Course (http://my.storycartel.com/join-course/), and one of our assignments was to write something for our audience. At the time, I didn’t really have an audience besides myself, so I decided to write a story for my three youngest boys. In fact, my seven-year-old son sat next to me while I wrote the very first draft of what would eventually become chapter one of DANIEL THE DRAW-ER. He picked out the name “Daniel” and laughed at all of the funny parts. He was the best beta-reader. Haha.

Kids are the best critics! What sets DANIEL THE DRAW-ER apart from other books in the same genre?

Wow, tough question, Sharon! There are so many fantastic books in my genre. But, if I had to try to pinpoint it, I think my book is unique because it awakens the imagination of the reader. I’ve had so many people tell me their child picked up a pencil after reading my book just to see if their drawings would come to life. Another person sent me a photo of two pages of ideas her son had written down for my next book. That’s not exclusive to my book, but, as someone who reads a lot with my own kids, it’s few and far between.

It would be awesome if you helped shaped the minds of a few future artists, S.J.! As a children’s author, what is your writing process?

Writing process? What writing process?

Basically, I just sit down and write. Some people know how to outline and take neat and orderly notes, but not me! I write down messy notes including any ideas I might have before I start writing, but my creative process doesn’t work quite as well when I plan each step of the story out in advance. It’s hard to outline allllll this weirdness, ya know?

Once I have a good first draft I like to have a couple of friends read it and offer suggestions, which I may or may not follow depending on how much coffee I’ve had that day. I repeat the revision/critique process about a gajillion times until someone begs for mercy (and it’s usually me).Then I release the monstrosity to the world, ready or not.

If, by “process”, you really mean what gets me into the writing mood… then the simple answer for that is coffee and super mellow music. And being by myself. Do you know how hard that is to achieve with four kids and a husband? Ugh.

Four kids and a hubby? Kudos for getting the book written! How long did it take for you to start and finish DANIEL THE DRAW-ER?

The original concept for DANIEL (what is now the first chapter) took shape within a couple of weeks last October, but I didn’t really add to it until March of this year. I spent two weeks eating, sleeping, and breathing this book until it was ready for publication. Just so you know, I wouldn’t recommend that particular strategy to most people.

Amen. Do you have any advice for other writers striving to write in your genre, S.J.?

Kids are the ultimate litmus test for authors. They won’t beat around the bush or lie to save your feelings because they’re still developing those filters. So have fun with your story. If you don’t enjoy it, it’ll show, and your young readers will call you out faster than Gordon Ramsay in a McDonald’s drive-through. (Gosh, I hope everyone gets that joke!)

LOL! Got it! What’s next for S. J. Henderson the author?

I hope to have the sequel to DANIEL THE DRAW-ER published by the end of the year. Then I’ll dive into editing and releasing my many Young Adult novels. Ridiculously excited about my YA paranormal, which is next in line.

Okay, here’s one for me, since I’m writing a time travel series—If you could time travel anywhere into Earth’s past, where would you go and why?

Probably back to the Garden of Eden so I could make a pair of cowboy boots out of that darn serpent.

One last thing!  I’m so excited to share with you that DANIEL THE DRAW-ER is now an audiobook, available at Amazon, Audible, and iTunes. My narrator for the book, Jay Prichard, did a great job bringing the characters to life. I think kids will really enjoy listening to Daniel’s adventures on long car rides or at bedtime.

As a thank you to your readers, I’d love to offer a chance for one of them to win a copy of either the Kindle ebook version or the audiobook of DANIEL THE DRAW-ER.

Blurb:

"This is no ordinary pencil,” says the cat sitting on the end of nine-year-old Daniel’s bed. "It's magic." 

Everything Daniel draws with his pencil--flying dragons, Octobears, and pizza-loving aliens from the planet Beezo--comes to life. It’s pretty awesome until the pencil draws a line between Daniel and his best (and only) friend Annie. 

Come along with Daniel and his fantastic creatures on this fun-for-the-whole-family journey as he discovers that friendship is the greatest magic of all.

Bio:

S. J. Henderson is the author of the children’s book DANIEL THE DRAW-ER, as well as several
not-yet-published Young Adult novels.
S. J. lives in Michigan with her husband and four wild boys. When she is not writing about talking cats and magic pencils, S. J. can usually be found riding one of her family’s horses or drinking a little bit of coffee with her creamer.

Buy Links:



S. J.'s store (autographed paperbacks):  www.sjhenderson.net/store/



Social Networking Links:







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19. Interview Alert: Harriet Muncaster

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I recently interviewed author/illustrator Harriet Muncaster to learn more about her debut picture book I Am A Witch’s Cat, which was published this summer, but is perfect for Halloween. Her book contains fascinating scenes filled with incredibly detailed miniatures. I was an instant fan from page one. And the story is clever and sweet. It’s about a child who claims her mother is a witch (a good witch) and she is a witch’s cat, and she goes on to show the reader all the reasons why she knows her mother is a witch. But more than that, the story is about a special relationship between a child and a parent. Please read the interview and get to know rising star Harriet Muncaster.

Q. Please tell us a little about yourself and how you got started in children’s books.

HM. Hi Lauri, I am so glad you like my book and thank you for having me on your blog! I have always loved making, drawing, reading and writing so I always knew I wanted to do something visually creative. However it wasn’t until we went on a school trip to an exhibition of James Mayhew’s work that I realized I could channel my creativity into children’s books. The thought had never actually occurred to me before and I had never been told that it was possible to do an illustration course at university as opposed to just a general art course. I think I was about 16 or 17 at the time. I absolutely loved James Mayhew’s work at the exhibition and it opened my eyes to the possibility of becoming a children’s book illustrator myself. I did a foundation course in art and design after school and that made me more certain that illustration was the right path for me to take. After that I did a degree in illustration and then an MA in Children’s Book Illustration at Anglia Ruskin in Cambridge. We were given some good exposure on my MA course – our work got taken out to Bologna Book Fair and that is where my Witch’s Cat book was spotted! In fact, it was a project I did on that course.

Q. You have a unique artistic style, which is evident in your picture book I Am A Witch’s Cat (which is gorgeous, by the way). How would you describe your style?

HM. Thank you! I am not really sure how I would describe my style to be honest. I kind of feel like I fell into it without meaning to. I was on my MA course and thought I would try out a book by making work in 3D out of paper and photographing it. I had done something similar before on my degree course where I made a paper model of a Snow Queen’s room. It was just the room though, I hadn’t taken it as far as putting characters in at that point. I guess that was my first ever foray into 3D illustration! So I thought I would try a similar technique to illustrate a book on my MA course. It went down quite well, I actually got highly commended for it in the Macmillan prize so my tutor suggested I do my next project in the same way. That project turned out to be Witch’s Cat, and it went from there. I enjoyed doing it because I absolutely LOVE making tiny things and I enjoy playing with lighting to get different atmospheres. (I actually think I prefer making physical things to drawing, it feels more natural to me.) I wanted it to be a warm book with an autumnal feel but also a bit magical. I watched a lot of the old Bewitched episodes while I was creating it.
So overall, to answer the question, if I were to describe my style in Witch’s Cat it would be: paper and fabric room sets with cut out characters, photographed with (hopefully!) warm lighting to give an autumnal feel. 

Q. Can you tell us a bit about your process from beginning to end when you created I Am A Witch’s Cat?

HM. Well, I think I went about it in a pretty ordered fashion. Even though I am a messy person in real life, when it comes to work I find I have to be very ordered and focused. Firstly I thought of the story. Then I thumbnailed the whole book, did a dummy book and then started making the final art! To make the final art I made miniature scenes- about dollhouse sort of size, out of paper and card and bits of fabric and then photographed them. 

These are some of the very first sketches of Witch’s Cat from my sketchbook. 

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And here are some work in progress shots when I was making the 3D scenes. 

 

 

 

 


 

 

 

These are all the food boxes and tins for the supermarket scene.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The first finished version of Witch’s Cat (the one I created on my MA course) had more of a scrapbook feel to it but that got changed for publication.

Q. Photography plays a large part in your artwork.Would you consider yourself a photographer too?

HM. I’m not sure actually… I suppose I am in a way! I don’t feel as though I am worthy of the title ‘professional photographer’ though as I don’t feel I know enough of the technical stuff. Also I don’t own all the equipment!

Q. Do you personally create all of the miniatures you use in your artwork? (I especially love the tiny books I saw on your website!)

HM. I try to make as many of the miniatures as I can out of card, but I think sometimes it adds interest to put an actual miniature in there like a real dollhouse lamp or something. Sometimes, if I want to make something look properly 3D I will make it out of Fimo. Or sew it! Like these little soft toy cats in Witch’s Cat.

Q. I Am A Witch’s Cat is a perfect pick for Halloween. Was that your intention when you created it? 

HM. No, I didn’t specifically think of Halloween funnily enough! But I was intending it to have an autumnal feel. I can see now though that it works well as a Halloween book!

Q. And how popular is Halloween in your part of the world?

HM. Halloween was never a big thing at all for me growing up. We weren’t even allowed to go trick or treating in my family! Halloween was a bit of a non-event in my house. It wasn’t until I went to university that I discovered that some people do like to celebrate Halloween. I’ve been to a few Halloween parties since. It’s definitely not as big a deal in the UK as it is in America though – Nowhere near!

Q. What projects are you working on right now?

HM. I have been working on a range of books about a princess called ‘Glitterbelle’ with Parragon publishing. I think they are coming out in January – or sometime round then anyway! I have just illustrated them, not written them and some of them are activity books. They are all done in my 3D style. I have also been working on a second Witch’s cat book called Happy Halloween Witch’s Cat which will come out next July. And then there are some other picture books I have been working on too but I can’t say much about those yet!

Q. Why do you believe picture books are important?

HM. I cannot imagine a world without picture books! Well, I can, but it would be a very boring world. I absolutely adore them because they are like little worlds you can just escape into. My absolutely favourite picture books are the Dorrie books by Patricia Coombs. I love the atmospheres they evoke. Of course there are other reasons why picture books are so important – like the use of them for teaching to read, introducing children to ideas, addressing important issues in a way children can relate to, provoking exploration and questions, bonding over bedtime reading etc… but that is my reason for loving them, the escapism and inspiration they provide. Also, writing and illustrating picture books is like being the director of a mini play/film. You have complete control to create a whole new world.

Q. Where can fans go to learn more about you and your work or to simply connect with you?

HM. I have a blog: www.victoriastitch.blogspot.com

Q. Any closing thoughts or words of wisdom?

HM. I don’t think I actually have any words of wisdom! I have just always done what I love and luckily it has led me to being able to do it as my full-time job. Maybe I would say: listen to criticism, use it to help you become a better illustrator/writer/artist/(insert word here) but ultimately do what inspires you and what you believe in. Don’t let anyone change that. 

Oh my goodness, I love the tiny orange and yellow quilt on the bed, and the tiny food boxes, and the tiny plush kitties! Thanks for sharing, Harriet, and much success with all of your books!


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20. Interview with Gary Rodriguez, Author of Escape Through The Wilderness

Gary RodriguezGary Rodriguez is president of LeaderMetrix Inc., a consulting company that specializes in senior-level executive coaching, organizational development and conflict resolution. He is the author of the new adventure novel Escape through the Wilderness scheduled for release in June 2014.  

His first book Purpose-Centered Public Speaking was an instant hit and recently republished by Tate Publishing.  

His extensive resume includes eighteen years as an executive in the radio business where he spent several years as one of the original managers of Infinity Broadcasting. He was twice nominated as medium market manager of the year by the Bobby Poe report, a national media publication.  

For over thirty-five years, Gary has spoken in public both nationally and internationally. Gary’s resume includes a season in the U.S. Army where he was highly decorated as the youngest Drill Instructor in the Army’s history at age 18 years. He was also awarded the Silver Star (the nation’s third highest award for valor) while serving in Viet Nam. 

Visit the book’s website at http://ettw.tateauthor.com/ You can also find Gary at http://leadermetrix.com/ and http://www.leadermetrix.com/authorspeaker.  

 

Can you tell us what your book is about?

Let me begin by telling you that the Idaho wilderness is the setting for the book. Here’s a brief overview of the story.

Sixteen-year-old Savannah Evans walks with a slight limp thanks to a gymnastics accident that dashed her Olympic dreams. But that doesn’t stop her from attending a summer adventure camp. At Camp Arrowhead, she quickly befriends Jade Chang and Rico Cruz, but Conner Swift acts like a bully and taunts her because of her injury.

The four are teamed together for an overnight white-water rafting adventure. What was supposed to be a fun expedition turns into a nightmare when there’s a serious incident and their adult guide disappears down the river.

Without their guide and desperately trying to steer an out-of-control raft, they pass the “Last Chance” marker and enter miles of furious rapids.

When the four drag themselves out of the river, they’re bruised, beaten, lost, and twenty-five miles from camp. Because of late-night campfire tales of Vexel, a vicious animal that roams the nearby woods, Savi and the others are terrified.

Savi becomes the unlikely leader who is forced by unexpected circumstances to try to guide the group back to Camp Arrowhead. Limited supplies, injuries, and the constant threat of Vexel—who everyone fears is stalking them, complicate the harrowing return trip.

Readers will enjoy dramatic survival scenes and the group working together, solving problems, and learning to overcome all sorts of obstacles and adversity.

Why did you write your book?

Escape Through The Wilderness is an analogy about life. Often, in today’s world, young people are faced with unexpected difficulties and forced to overcome fierce opposition. The book was written to show readers ways they can face and overcome difficulties with a measure of faith and a little help from their friends.

In our culture, we are quick to recognize and celebrate individual achievements. However, there are some obstacles in life that require the help of others to overcome.

The adventure chronicles four teens coming to terms with their own struggles in the midst of stiff opposition and complicated circumstances. Learning to overcome adversity is a part of everyday life. My goal is to highlight the value and benefits of strong faith and real friendships.

Can you tell us a little about your main and supporting characters?Escape Through the Wilderness cover

There are four main characters and one supporting character in the story. Savi Evans is a sixteen-year old from Oxford, Mississippi and the lead character. She’s an extraordinary person who positively impacts the lives of those around her. Rico Cruz is seventeen and lives in San Antonio, Texas. He’s the handsome tender-warrior type and a strong leader in his own right. Jade Chang is also seventeen and resides in San Francisco, California. She feels out of her comfort zone because this is her first time stepping into a wilderness setting. Conner Swift lives in Chicago, Illinois and is seventeen as well. He lives in the shadow of a successful father and has something to prove. They each have their own reasons for attending the camp. Lastly, there’s Luke. I can’t talk much about him without giving away the story. But readers will most certainly grow to love and appreciate him.

Are you consciously aware of the plot before you begin a novel or do you discover it as you write?

You are asking an interesting question. I’d have to answer it by saying, yes and yes. When I planned out the story, I started the process by beginning at the end. I asked myself what I wanted my readers to experience and learn from the book. However, I also held my plan loosely which allowed for spontaneous inspiration and ongoing creativity. I believe it’s important to have a plan but to allow room for the plot and characters to develop as they come to life.

Honestly, developing the ending was difficult for me. I got stuck for a while. So I decided to get on my knees and pray for inspiration. I believe my prayer was answered. I hope your readers agree with me once they’ve read the book.

Your book is set in northeastern Idaho. Can you tell us why you chose this setting in particular?

I chose a setting in the United States that was centrally located and yet very remote. The wilderness terrain needed to be challenging, and the river used in the whitewater rafting trip had to be dangerous. It also had to be an isolated locale without cell service to make communication with the outside world next to impossible.

Have you suffered from writer’s block and what do you do to get back on track?

Writer’s block has never been a problem for me. That’s not to say that I don’t have lulls in creativity or motivation. Of course, I do. But when that happens, I don’t consider it a “block” and I don’t try to power through it. Instead, I take it as a sign that I need a break from writing. Taking a short time away is sometimes a wise and healthy choice. I don’t panic if I lose my motivation or inspiration to write for a time. Runners don’t always run. Sometimes their body needs time to rest and recover. In the same way, putting too much pressure on yourself to always write can stifle both your creativity and your inspiration. There is nothing wrong with taking some time to chill out and focus on other activities. A short break will often revive you and rekindle your passion and desire to write once again.

After I give myself a break (it may be a couple days or even a couple weeks) I sit down again and read what I’ve written previously. That gets me right back into the flow of my work and often I find a new sense of inspiration to write. Some days I have to work a little harder at writing than other days. But I think that’s a part of the normal ebb and flow of a writer’s life. Sometimes runners feel like they can run forever. But on other days they feel like it is more of an effort. The same is true of writing.

What do you like the most about being an author?

One of the most gratifying things about writing is creating a story that others find exciting and inspirational. When I finished writing Escape Through The Wilderness and reread the manuscript, I was amazed that the story came out of me. I believe I was given this inspiring story as a gift. If I had chosen not to write and share it, the story would have died inside me and never been told. But I thank God that didn’t happen. In fact, the opposite is true. The gift he gave to me is now my gift to the world. I hope the story entertains and encourages all who read it.

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21. Suzanne Bloom Is A Foolish Optimist

Author/Illustrator Suzanne Bloom

Author/Illustrator Suzanne Bloom

Suzanne's Newest Book

Suzanne’s Newest Book

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Welcome author/illustrator Suzanne Bloom for the final post of our four-part series. If you are a new or aspiring children’s picture book author (or illustrator), I hope you have found some inspiration and encouragement in the last three posts, and I hope that continues today. This week I ask Suzanne about quiet stories, writer’s block, and how to keep from getting discouraged.

I discovered I have something in common with Suzanne, besides our love for picture books. We have both been told by editors that our work is quiet. I wasn’t quite sure what that meant the first time I heard it. Is that good? Bad? What? Since the editor who told me that my story was quiet didn’t seem interested in acquiring it, I surmised that quiet must be bad. And if that’s the case, then my story must be bad, and my writing style must be bad, and maybe I’m not cut out to be a picture book writer. See how easily that self-doubt creeps in?      

What I have learned since then is that quiet doesn’t equal bad. It is a certain style of writing, and a lot of my work is written in that style, but it’s not bad, it’s just harder to sell to today’s publishers, who seem to want quirky, funny, quick-paced, action-packed, stories. That being said, quiet books are still being published, just not as much. And if you truly want to, you can rework your story into something a little less quiet.

Suzanne, what does an editor mean when he/she says a story is quiet? And how do you feel about quiet stories?

Is it quiet because nothing happens? Do your characters have a problem to solve? Is there a beginning, middle and ending? Have you left space for the reader to make discoveries? What distinguishes your story from the mile-high pile of other manuscripts?

A formidable editor said, in a tone I couldn’t pin down, “You write quiet stories.” Was she kindly dismissing me? Maybe. But, being the foolish optimist, I chose to interpret it as a definition. Yes, indeed! I write quiet stories. My stories are about the little bumps on the road of friendship. They are about friends working things out. They hold moments of emotional truth for the listener and the reader. Think about The Quiet Book (by Deborah Underwood). Deborah Underwood’s “list” text coupled with Renata Liwska’s illustrations is absolutely delicious. It’s sly and tender and true. As visual learners, children look at books more carefully than adults do. This is a boon for illustrators who can amp up the level of detail suggested by the text.

Thank goodness for editors. We need them as surely as they need us. A manuscript needs a champion to shepherd it though the gauntlet of financial decisions, list requirements and the multitude of other manuscripts.

Yay, there is a place for quiet picture books in the world. Now, for those of you who get writer’s block, you’re not alone. We will all be afflicted with it from time to time. And we all deal with it in our own ways. Personally, I tend to wait it out for a while. I will often read and reread everything I have written for that story up to that point over and over again until I get unstuck. If that doesn’t work, then I’m usually done for the day. Let’s see what Suzanne recommends.

Suzanne, how do you combat writer’s (or illustrator’s) block? 

Is it inertia or page fright? No matter. Cook something, clean something, completely reorganize your kitchen cupboards, wax the car, weed the garden, walk the dog, conduct a search for the best carrot cake in a four state area, read every writer’s blog you can find, think about starting a blog, open the fridge 8 or 9 times to see if anyone made you something yummy.
Fill your days with Productive Procrastination Projects until you can no longer stand the avoidance, and think maybe that little opus on your desk or PC looks like a better option. Write around the block – scribble, doodle, sketch until that shaky, snaky line looks like an idea.
Alas, that idea may have a mind of its own. More than once the story I started gets elbowed aside by one that’s more insistent or fully formed. In the schoolyard that is my brain, my stories do not stand in a straight line. Oh no, they jostle and shove and argue over who is the line leader, except for that pouty one in the back who refuses to say a word.

Great advice, Suzanne! Now, how do you keep from getting discouraged in the highly competitive world of children’s picture book publishing?

On this emotional and professional roller coaster, there’s a nasty twist called the Spiral of Second Guessing followed by the Plummet of Self Worth. It seems to last forever but is over pretty quickly. Ride it out.
At the beginning of every project and sometimes again in the middle it becomes clear that I’ve forgotten how to draw and write. This story stinks and why would anyone ever read it? And it doesn’t even matter because who cares, anyway!
We are so hard on ourselves.
When I get discouraged, I call someone who loves my work and is not a family member. I call a treasured writer friend. We commiserate and whinge a little but then as good friends do, we remind each other of our successes, dedication, and how we are so much more suited to this than being the CEO of a Fortune 500 company or any other of many, many options.

If you are a writer, illustrator, or both, thank you for working to put something beautiful into the hands of children.

Thank you, Suzanne, that last line sums it up perfectly. That’s really what it all comes down to, if writing children’s picture books is in your blood, if it’s a part of you that you can’t imagine being without, and you long to put something beautiful into the hands of children (and there’s nothing more beautiful than a picture book), then don’t give up, don’t quit, don’t get discouraged, your dream can come true. You can be published. Keep writing, keep submitting, keep improving, and keep the faith. Believe me, I know! 

Suzanne Bloom was born mid-century in Portland, Oregon, which accounts for her love of overcast days. She moved to Queens, New York in time to finish kindergarten. Her first book We Keep a Pig in the Parlor was published in 1988. She has authored and illustrated many more books since then including The Bus for Us (2000) and the popular Goose & Bear series, which includes A Splendid Friend Indeed, Treasure, What About Bear, Oh! What A Surprise!, Fox Forgets, and her latest, Alone Together. She has been given a Theodor Seuss Geisel Honor Award and has been selected for the Texas 2×2 list of 20 best picture books (twice). She currently lives in upstate, New York with her husband in the house they built 34 years ago, down a dirt road and on a hillside. She has two grown sons, one cat, and one dog. To learn more about Suzanne, please read the interview I did with her back in 2010, or check out her website: www.suzannebloom.com.

{Suzanne’s First Drawing, Age 3} I confess. It’s true. Before I wrote, I drew! An artist at three, marking the page – my dad and I were circles with little circle eyes. We looked like a jellyfish family. We all are artists, first. Little by little other activities catch our interest and we move on. But not always. I found more success drawing and painting than adding and multiplying, or dancing or playing sports. According to report cards from elementary school, I was a pleasure to have in class, though not working up to potential. Indeed, who among us works up to potential? I remember learning to read. Sprawled out on the ugly rug in the living room, looking at the funny papers spread before me, I watched in amazement as the squiggly lines shaped up into a word. The word was “Scamp”, son of Lady and the Tramp. And with that, the funny papers became my magic carpet. My gateway books were Goldens. So Big!, Animal Babies, and Mr. Dog still sit and stay on my book shelf to remind me that my collection began even before I was reading on my own.


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22. I'm My Own Dog Blog Tour

Thanks so much to Candlewick Press for asking us to join the I'm My Own Dog blog tour. They're giving away a copy of the book, and David Ezra Stein answered some questions for us! Read on and enter to win using the Rafflecopter widget (US, ends 11/14).

   

About the book

Many dogs have human owners. Not this dog. He fetches his own slippers, curls up at his own feet, and gives himself a good scratch. But there is one spot, in the middle of his back, that he just can’t reach. So one day, he lets a human scratch it. And the poor little fella follows him home. What can the dog do but get a leash to lead the guy around with? Dog lovers of all ages will revel in the humorous role-reversal as this dog teaches his human all the skills he needs to be a faithful companion.

About the author

David Ezra Stein is the creator of many award-winning picture books, including Interrupting Chicken, which was awarded a Caldecott Honor, Because Amelia Smiled, and Dinosaur Kisses. He lives with his family in Kew Gardens, New York.

Find out more about him at www.davidezra.com.

   

Q & A with David Ezra Stein

Alethea at RNSL: I loved I'm My Own Dog. Do you have (or have you previously had) a pet like this? How did you develop the alternative view he takes on ownership?

David Ezra Stein: Hi Alethea! Thanks; I have had quite a few pets in my life. When I was a kid I was allergic, so I had mainly guinea pigs, fish, and a snake. I think all my books, and especially the characters, come from my own emotions and my relationship to the demands that life makes on me. When I wrote this book, I was feeling a desire to be true to myself, and suddenly I became aware of the voice of this dog character. He began telling me about himself. I wrote it down. Then I followed through by figuring out what the rest of his life would be like. I realized he would eventually need someone else, and that’s where the man came in.

RNSL: This book is quite hilarious. What do you think developed your particular sense of humor?

DES: Oh, thank you so much. I guess I had funny parents and also, I think I had a rough time in childhood in some ways, and humor is always what got me through, and gave me a sense of power. If you can laugh, you can survive. I was attracted to humor and gobbled it up wherever I could. Sesame Street was a big influence. In the ‘80s we had so many really funny movies. For example, Spaceballs absolutely blew my mind as a kid. I was rolling in the aisle of the movie theater, getting popcorn stuck to my clothes. Commercials were also little haikus of humor. Calvin & Hobbes comic books were a huge inspiration.

RNSL: You have a great, loose, flowy style of illustration. Can you tell us a bit about how you started drawing and creating art?

DES: I tried almost every medium as a kid. My parents were both artists. I scribbled right onto the pages of books I liked. To be part of the art. I was always attracted to ink: the blackness against the white paper, and the way it flows. Even though I am a city guy, I have had an affinity for the natural world all my life. I used to go out painting with my mother at about age 10 and try to capture the beauty of old houses and gardens. It’s always been a value of mine to be a fine artist, like Van Gogh or Matisse. In college I got into drawing out on the spot again, which is wonderful to do in New York City. I could do that every day. I still do it whenever I can. Now I bring watercolor, too, another flowy medium, as you say.

RNSL: You both write and illustrate your stories. Do you prefer one mode over the other, and why or why not?

DES: They are both ways of getting an idea down. Especially in the early stages of a book. I can’t do just one. I love going to the painting stage, though. There is a delightful wordlessness about it, like music. It says things that can’t be said in words.

RNSL: I have two cats, who aren't so much independent (they still need me to open the food cans) but who sometimes behave as if I am quite an inferior, hairless, clumsy feline. My husband is often considered the better cat in the household (he is warm and a bit furry, and excels at paper ball games). Do you think you will do a story for cat lovers sometime in the future? (In a very roundabout way, I'm asking what you're working on next.)

DES: Ha, ha! Sounds like you might have a book in there, yourself! Yes, I am open to doing a cat book. I love cats, actually, and have rescued a couple. They are so interesting and weird, as well. Uncanny would be the word. For now, I have a frog book coming next summer, called Tad and Dad. It’s about a little tadpole who jumps into Dad’s lily pad every night. Think co-sleeping with frogs.

RNSL: Thanks for answering my questions, David! I'm off to draft that picture book...

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Giveaway Rules:

  1. Open to US residents only. Ends 11/14/2014.

  2. We are not responsible for lost, stolen, or damaged items. 

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  5. Winner will be chosen randomly via Rafflecopter widget a day or two after the contest ends. 

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  8. PLEASE DO NOT LEAVE ANY PERSONAL INFO IN THE COMMENTS. Sorry for the caps but we always get people leaving their email in the comments. Rafflecopter will collect all that without having personal info in the comments for all the world (and spambots) to find. Thanks!

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23. Author Interview with Mystery Writer GG Collins

It’s Author Interview Thursday! Woohoo. Today’s special guest reached out to me after reading an AIT special earlier this year and I’m so glad she did. She has a background in journalism and runs several blogs on topics dear to her heart. She’s written two paranormal Mystery books and has other titles in the works. In liaising with her as I prepared for this interview, I have to say that I have been inspired by her passion for the writing craft as well as her transparency. We really do have someone special in our midst today, so please join me in welcoming GG Collins.

 

Can you tell us a little bit about yourself and something most people don’t know about G.G. Collins? 

My friends know this, but it’s not general knowledge. People shouldn’t call me before 10 a.m., 11 is better. What my friends know is that I stay up quite late to write and therefore sleep in the mornings. Early calls usually find me incoherent and muttering swearwords. As one might gather, I dislike mornings, but also Brussels sprouts and clouds. On the up side, I love travelling (even on a bad day). Sunshine and chiles improve my mood greatly. I continue to report and write for my blogs. I have two. Can’t ever have too many blogs. They arereluctantmediumatlarge.wordpress.com my book blog and paralleluniverseatlarge.wordpress.com a news, views and reviews blog. You can also find me on Twitter @GGCollinsAuthor. There is a rap star by the same name so “Author” had to be added for clarification.  

 

Tell us about the first time someone complemented you on something you had written? Book Cover Newest LM 6-2014

The first time one of my stories was chosen as the cover. My editor told me it was good work. I beamed all the way to my car. It’s difficult to beat that first time.  

 

You have currently published two books in the ‘Rachel Blackstone Paranormal Mysteries’ series. Was it a conscious decision to write a series and what led you to do it? 

No, I didn’t have a series in mind. I learned of the Native American ritual to return the dead and all I could think about was what if the wrong spirit returned? By the time I finished the book, I just didn’t want to let these characters go. I am writing a stand-alone book too, but I like my Reluctant Medium, Rachel Blackstone. Long may her cynicism live.  

 

What key ingredients should a good crime/mystery book possess? 

My books are paranormal mysteries so I have more latitude than pure crime writers do. I begin my story where it starts, usually in the first line. At that moment, something is going very wrong. The mystery unfolds a little at a time as new elements (some supernatural) present themselves and up the ante.  Periodically the threat level heightens or the need for action revs up. It’s a delicate balance. You don’t want to reveal too much, too soon, but there has to be enough mystery to keep readers interested. I enjoy putting Rachel through as much mayhem as she can stand. If I go too far, I have to let her have a mental health day.  

 

What three things should writers avoid when writing dialogue? Book Cover Reluctant Medium Newest 5-2014

Unnatural or pretentious lines (unless your character is a pompous gadfly) should be avoided. We usually don’t speak that way in conversation. Each character should have a consistent voice. If you’ve been away from your manuscript for awhile, this is especially important. Find that voice again. Be careful using contemporary vernacular. It might shorten the shelf life of your book. Stay away from phrases like: “don’t you know,”  “she goes” and “awesome” unless this is specific to one character.

 

Have you ever struggled to give a character a distinct voice and what did you do to solve this? 

My stories are dialogue-driven and I enjoy letting my characters go. Rachel has a big mouth. She’s sardonic and quick, but can make a complete fool of herself around men. Chloe is her best friend and is usually more diplomatic—but she does occasionally curse in French. Like most of us, I’ve met many of these characters in everyday life. Whenever I have trouble finding someone’s voice, I think back to a person I’ve run across who was this type. Here’s where even the nastiest person you’ve ever met can pay off. Make them a character! Get even!  

 

What book or film has the best dialogue that inspires you to be a better writer and why? 

I’m a fan of Chris Haddock’s Canadian TV shows such as “DaVinci’s Inquest” and “Intelligence.” His stories have realistic dialogue. His characters feel authentic. The dialogue is much like that you or I have with friends and co-workers. There’s a BBC show called “Last Tango in Halifax” that is a hoot! All because of cleverly penned dialogue and superb delivery. In American TV, I like the writing in “Longmire,” thanks to the influence of Craig Johnson, the writer of the popular series. “Supernatural” has some fine writing. They kind of slip it in between the demons and the vamps, but it’s there. That’s why they’re in their 10th season. The cute guys don’t hurt, but it’s the substantive writing that knocks me out. Someone on the writing staff has insightful views about hope and things we can’t understand. In books, I find mystery writers Lia Matera and Edna Buchanan refreshing. Wit is always a good thing, but smart wit is tremendous.

 

How do you handle bad reviews? 

Most people are kind in their reviews, but occasionally one is not helpful and just plain mean-spirited. In this instance, we book writers have to realize that it’s not us. The unkind words have more to do with the person who wrote the review and what kind of life, or day, they’ve had. These go into File 13 where they belong. Some writers have had bad experiences with what is referred to as a troll, people who go from place to place on the internet spreading vile prose with limited vocabulary and issues with sentence structure. If I should ever get one of those, just know I have a very thick skin. Most of my reviews have been complimentary and readers enjoyed my books. Of course, this makes me happy. The Rachel Blackstone Paranormal Mystery Series is supposed to be fun—and maybe a bit scary. But writers must realize that not everyone likes the same thing. That’s okay.  

 

Toy Story or Shrek? 

(Laughing.) I’ve seen neither so I really can’t comment. I saw “WALL-E” twice.  

 

As a journalist, can you give us tips on how to make people ‘spill the beans’ in an interview situation? Watermark G G Collins in -office-

Everyone has seen this done on a news show. A journalist asks a question, the person being interviewed says something short like “yes” or “no.” When nothing more is forthcoming, the reporter sits there quietly, the seconds tick by with dead air, the person can’t take it any more and out it spills. Another “technique” is to phrase a question in this way: “Some people might say . . . you’re a tyrant” or “you’re a crook.”  How would you reply to this accusation?” This way, the reporter is afforded some distance, but still gets the answer needed for the story. Personally, I’m not comfortable doing this, but they can be an effective tools, particularly in hard news. And that may be why I’ve covered primarily arts, health and personal stories. I’ve found that being truly interested in what your interview is saying goes a long way to crafting a good story. Once I ask the first question, there is nothing in the world but the person sitting in front of me.  

 

What is the worst thing a person can say or do to a journalist? 

Lie. You don’t have to be a journalist to detect a lie. Most anyone can do it. But in reporting we come to depend on our regular sources. If someone lies, and we know it, that could become the story. And they’ll likely never be asked for another interview. Word gets around.  

 

What three things should a first time visitor to your hometown do? Watermark Santa Fe Plaza

Bask in Santa Fe’s Plaza and people watch. Eat at The Shed; it’s my favorite restaurant and my characters too. It’s family owned, has great New Mexican dishes and yummy margaritas. Take the short drive up the ski basin road (Artist Road which becomes Hyde Park Road) for the breathtaking views. And eat the chiles. Oops, I think that was four.  

 

Can you tell us a bit about a book you’re currently working on? 

Oh sure, that would be “Atomic Medium.” In this story, Rachel Blackstone must go back in time to 1945. Two evil men have slipped through a portal at a local retail shop, once the office of The Manhattan Project. If they succeed in their diabolical plan, it could change the outcome of WWII. It’s no small thing for Rachel and Chloe; just save the world. 2015 marks the 70th anniversary of the atomic bomb, which was developed in Los Alamos, just north of Santa Fe.  

 

Any advice for authors out there who are either just starting out or getting frustrated with the industry? 

I have worked for a book publisher and while there can be some advantages to publication by a book house, there are also some drawbacks. If your book isn’t one of the chosen to get tight promotional dollars, you will likely do as much marketing and promoting with a publisher as you would going the indie route. I opted to self-publish and haven’t looked back. If you have found yourself knocking on publishers’ doors and getting nowhere, try going indie. It’s a terrific creative experience, even if you eventually go with the bricks and mortar publisher. Have a presence on the internet so an interested editor can see what you can do. Start blogging and be sure to take advantage of author pages on Amazon, Goodreads, Shelfari, Ask David and Book Goodies. With a little experience, you’ll determine which work best for you and your book. I recently joined Twitter and now I can’t believe I was reluctant to do so. It’s fun and you get great exposure. But don’t constantly urge people to buy your books. Get involved in what’s going on and reply or retweet others. You’ll make friends quickly. Avoid spending so much time marketing that you stop writing. The more books you have out, the more sales you’ll rack up.

 

Thanks for all the wonderful advice and letting us into your world GG. I’ll personally be revisiting this page in the days and weeks ahead to feast on your wise words. GG and I would really appreciate your questions and comments, so do drop a line or two in the comments section below. Be sure to share this interview using the Social Media buttons and you can grab one of GG’s books at the link below.

GG Collins on Amazon

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24. Interview with Children’s Book Author – Stephanie M. Ward

Its Author Interview Thursday and I’m really excited about the special guest we have on the hot seat today.Stephanie Ward I hooked up with today’s author on a book giveaway for kidlit authors during summer. She was the main organiser and it was a great success. It was a pleasure working with her and seeing how she connected several authors from across the globe. She has travelled to many countries across different continents. Although she’s originally from the U.S.A., she now lives in Sydney, Australia. She’s very generous and creative and I believe her passion for life does flow through in her books. So without further ado, please join me in welcoming Stephanie M. Ward.

 

Can you tell us a little bit about yourself and the first time someone complemented you on something you had written.

First I just want to say that I’m really excited to be participating in Author Interview Thursday as I always look forward to reading these posts. I’m a bit overwhelmed at being on the other end of one of your interviews, but I’ll do my best to come up with creative answers to all of your interesting questions. And a big congratulations on your new Christmas book, Billy and Monster’s Golden Christmas! I’m looking forward to reading it.

Now, a bit about me…

I’m a small town girl from Spokane, Washington who caught the travel bug at an early age and has been exploring the world ever since I was old enough to drive across the border to Canada.

In fourth grade, we were given an assignment to write a short story. Remember those pieces of grey-ish paper that had a big square where you’re supposed to draw a picture and then about four lines underneath? Well, I covered four of those, front and back and my teacher was quite impressed with my not-so-short story. It was about a pet dog that was taken by an alien and the adventures of the little boy who went to find him. It sure would be fun to read that story today!

 

What can a reader expect when they pick up a book written by Stephanie Ward?

They can expect to learn something, probably about a place that not many people write children’s books about, and have a lot of fun in the process.

 

Congratulations on the publication of your first kidlit book – Wally the Warm-Weather Penguin. Can you tell us about the research process that went into writing this book?Wally the Warm-Weather Penguin

Thanks! I figure it took 10 years from concept to publication of Wally the Warm-Weather Penguin, so yes, there was quite a bit of research. First it was research for my trip to the Galapagos Islands where Wally travels. I was fascinated by the unique wildlife, much of which is endemic. As I was putting together the book, I wanted to share what I had discovered about different species that are endangered in the area. And after learning about how fragile the environment is in the Galapagos Islands, I decided to donate proceeds from the book to the Galapagos Conservancy (galapagos.org) to help protect the animals there. I’m happy to say the first donation was made earlier this year.

 

What role would you say social media plays in building an author’s platform and have you found it helpful in marketing your book?

In almost two decades in corporate marketing, I have never seen an industry whose competitors support each other as much as in the realm of publishing. I have met the most amazing authors, writers, bloggers and friends through social media as a writer. I think it plays a big part in linking to new sales channels, marketing opportunities and ideas as well as good old moral support.

 

What were some of your favourite books as a child? 

Not surprisingly, I loved reading about far away places. There was a series of books about foreign lands that I checked out over and over again at my elementary school library. I also remember reading a book about a little girl traveling alone on the bus to see her grandmother. I’m not sure if she went across town or across the country, but I was amazed by her courage and sense of adventure.

 

What tips would you offer other first time children’s authors with regard to working with an illustrator?Crab Sketch

I had a wonderful time working with a very talented illustrator from Ecuador – Vanessa Landin – for Wally the Warm-Weather Penguin. It was important to me that the illustrator was from the place where the story is based, as I wanted to give back to the community that inspired the story. Vanessa was a student at the time and I would encourage anyone looking for an artist to consider the young talent at art institutes around the world.

 

Toy Story or Shrek?

Shrek – I am truly inspired by the way Shrek seamlessly weaves adult and child humor into one story.

 

What three things should a first time visitor to Sydney, Australia do?

1) Hit the beach – if you visit on a hot day, that’s where everyone is! I love Manly and Balmain.

2) Go to the zoo – Yes, there are some cool Aussie animals there, but the setting of the Taronga Zoo is stunning. You will get some of your best photos from there, likely with a giraffe in them, but gorgeous shots of the harbor and Sydney skyline.

3) Take a ferry – So much of Sydney revolves around water that you should be on it at some point during your visit. Take a ride on one of the iconic yellow and green ferries and be sure to leave from Circular Quay where the Opera House and Botanical Gardens sit on one side and the Harbour Bridge on the other.

 

Can you tell us a few facts about penguins that fascinate you?

Wally was inspired by my visit to both Antarctica and the Galapagos Islands on a yearlong trip around the world.Visiting Antarctica and being amidst Emperor Penguins in the icy conditions made me wonder why they didn’t just pack up and go somewhere warmer. A couple of months later, I was in the Galapagos Islands and saw a colony of Galapagos Penguins hanging out on the beach, swimming in relatively warm water and there was the story: What if an Emperor Penguin learned that he could live on a warm, tropical island?

 

You’ve travelled to more than 50 countries. Can you tell us about a memorable incident on one of your travels?

I’m fascinated by the similarities in people’s lives around the world – we all eat, sleep, observe, listen, talk – we just do it in our own way, place and time. What I keep coming back to are moments – having a picnic under the Eiffel Tower with a warm baguette and chilled bottle of champagne, bone-chilling coldness at sunrise on board a Russian ice breaker travelling through pancake ice in Antarctica, or the hot, dry, sage-like smell of the air in Tanzania. Oh sure, there were incidents, like being mugged in Brazil and sitting in the tent of a nomadic family in Mongolia sharing a cup of fermented mare’s milk, but the small, seemingly insignificant moments are the ones that pop into my head most often.

 

What can we expect from Stephanie Ward in the next 12 months?Wally

I’m so glad you asked :) I’m thrilled to announce that the paperback version of Wally the Warm-Weather Penguin was just released this week and is now available on Amazon. The paperback edition includes a brand new scene with a wonderful new character, a section of Fascinating Facts about the animals in the book and a map of the Galapagos Islands.

In addition, I’m starting work on an app for Wally which is a whole new learning curve but a very fun process. Plus, I’m writing the next adventure for Wally. There are many fascinating (and warm) places in the world that Wally wants to visit, so stay tuned!

 

Where can readers and fans connect with you?

Author Website & Blog –  http://www.stephaniemward.com

Facebook Fan Pagehttp://www.facebook.com/wallythewarmweatherpenguin

Twitterhttp://twitter.com/stephmward

Goodreadshttp://www.goodreads.com/author/show/7877690.Stephanie_M_Ward

YouTubeWally the Warm-Weather Penguin

 

Any advice for authors out there who are either just starting out or getting frustrated with the industry?

Write your story. If your story can’t be defined in a specific genre or written in the traditional format, don’t worry. There are many options for authors to get a book into readers’ hands. I have met some talented indie authors whose wonderful kid lit books are longer than the 1000 word maximum that agents will accept for review. And I recently read a fantastic novella that is the perfect length, but in traditional publishing may have been expanded or reduced to a short story or looked over completely due to the number of pages. It’s a whole new world in publishing today, so don’t worry that your idea doesn’t “fit”, just write your story!

 

Thanks for hanging out with us today Stephanie and ending on such a positive note. I love how you’ve allowed your various experiences to influence your writing and how that has in turn allowed children to experience new worlds that are alien to them. Please do connect with Stephanie at one of the links she gave. We’d love to hear your comments and questions, so leave a few lines below. Grab a copy of Stephanie’s book for a loved one at the link below and do share this interview on social media.

Get Wally the Warm-Weather Penguin on Amazon

2 Comments on Interview with Children’s Book Author – Stephanie M. Ward, last added: 11/13/2014
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25. Interview with Children’s Book Author – Rhonda Paglia

It’s Author Interview Thursday and I’d like to thank you for stopping over today.Rhonda Paglia First of all, I’d like to wish all readers and fans of this blog based in the U.S., a very Happy Thanksgiving. I promise you’ll enjoy the spread laid out today. In the hot seat today is a wonderful lady who is fondly known as ‘Grammy Pags.’ I’ve been so inspired by her energy and passion for life in the lead up to today’s interview. She has so much to share with us today, so get into your most comfortable position and join me in welcoming Rhonda Paglia.

 

Can you tell us a little bit about yourself and the first time someone complemented you on something you had written.

Hi David, thank you for inviting me to be part of your Author Thursday Interview.  I’m honored, and congratulations on your new book, Billy and Monster’s Golden Christmas that is coming out soon!  Congrats!!!  You are prolific!!

Okay, a few facts about me:

  • I’ve been married to my sweet husband, Tony, for 41 years.  We have three grown children, five adorable grandchildren, and little Yorkie-poo named Bella.  She’s my shadow.
  • I’m a retired elementary teacher, [I taught 26 years], and now I’m a Grammy babysitter, a flower planter, a musician, a tap dancer, and a self-published children’s author.
  • I have received a great deal of praise for the first book I released to the public: “The Little Lambs and the Very Special Mission.”
  • I must add that growing up, I had NO confidence in my writing! NONE! ZIPPO! My writing was so bad that in 7th grade, when our English teacher gave us a story writing assignment, my mother ended up red-lining and rewriting everything I had written.  I would have gotten an F on my story, but she earned an A.  I was so embarrassed. I couldn’t look at my teacher for the rest of the year.  It was awful!  I was living a lie every day I walked into his class.  Thankfully, I’ve come a long way in my writing confidence.

 

What can a reader expect when they pick up a book written by Rhonda Paglia? Rhonda Paglia Book Signing

I’m still in the process of learning and developing my “niche.”  I’m just writing for fun.  I have learned a lot in the last two years, and I’m getting and understanding the process more.  My hope is that readers will enjoy my stories and come away with a little glow in their hearts and a little tickle in their tummy.

I want kids to learn something and to stretch their imaginations and creativity.  For example, in my crazy little book, Doonsey’s Beach Adventure, the Great Rescue, kids will find a hero in Doonsey.  They will also learn about his new friends, the “Beach Buddies.”  Our family went on a vacation to the beach.  We “met” Doonsey there.  Then I started seeing faces in the sand that were made out of the shells and stones.  My granddaughter, Sofie, and I started making a bunch of faces and the “Beach Buddies” were born!  We used shells, stones, crab claws, and other items we found on the beach.  The “Buddies” ended up as characters in the first Doonsey book and they will reappear in Book 2.  Kids can learn to make their own Buddy characters with  things they find in nature, not just stones and shells.

 

What role would you say social media plays in building an author’s platform and have you found it helpful in marketing your books? 

I’m new to the “book business” too, but everything I’ve read, indicates that Social Media has a huge impact on getting your name “out there.”  So I tweet, toot, blog, Facebook, website, and get Linkedin, as often as possible, but always feel behind.  It’s a time issue for me, as I’m sure it is for most authors.

Is marketing on Social Media helpful?  Who knows?  I’ve sold books on line, but most of my sales success has been one-on-one, face-to-face, book signing events.  It’s fun too!

 

What in your opinion makes a great children’s book? 

This is a tough one, so my answer is simple.  A GREAT book has ALL the pieces: characters, plot, setting, illustrations.

 

What were some of your favourite books as a child?

The Little Golden Books series, Caps for Sale, Country Mouse and City Mouse, Ali Baba and the 40 Thieves, and all of the classic fairy tales.  I read the Wizard of Oz until the pages were falling out.  Our nearest library was miles away, but every once in a while, we were allowed to buy a comic books at the grocery story.  I loved the adventures of Little Lulu, Dot, and Casper the Friendly Ghost.  And then there is dear Dr. Seuss.  When his books became available, I loved them.  Later I branched out to the Nancy Drew mystery series and some biographies, but mostly, I loved the books that would send me away on adventures.

 

What book or film has the best dialogue that inspires you to be a better writer and why?Rhonda Paglia Books

Dr. Seuss.  I love the freedom of his language usage.  I love the rhythm and cadence of his words.  I love his stories, characters, and how he moves the plot.  Such fun and imagination!  I will never be a Dr. Seuss, but with my musical background, I find myself using rhythm and rhyme when it’s appropriate.  In my yet to be released book, “Grammy’s Rockin’ Color Rap-a-licious Rap” – Grammy’s looks prim, proper, and sophisticated, but she’s really a closet rocker!

 

How do you reward yourself once your book is published? 

I’m still very new at all of this – and currently, I’m self-published.  However, the fact that my ideas and my works are in my hands, in a form, that I can share with others, is a huge reward.  Like, “Phew!  I did it!”  The “no confidence – non-writer – F’s on story-getter – me” is now writing and publishing stories.  I never thought that would happen – certainly not the 7th grader sitting in English class lying to my teacher about a paper my mother wrote for me!  #Iamwriting!  That’s a biggie reward!

I wrote “Doonsey’s Beach Adventure, the Great Rescue” and created a companion coloring activity book for my grandchildren.  It was a Christmas surprise last year.  My heart just beamed!  Not only did I write a story and publish it for them; I got to be around to read it to them and get their reactions.  Big time reward!

 

Toy Story or Shrek?

Toy Story.  I love the characters!!  I love seeing the toys come to life, organizing themselves, tackling problems. Great fun!   I grew up in the country.  We didn’t have any close neighbors.  My friends were at school, a distance away.  I would have LOVED for my toys to come to life, be my “real” friends, and have merry adventures with them.  So definitely, Toy Story!

 

What three things should a first time visitor to Pennsylvania do? Grammy reading Doonsey to O, Ro, & So 12-26-2013

  1.  Visit Amish Country.  Lancaster, in northeast, PA, and Volant and New Wilmington in northwest PA, where I live, near, would be a cultural experience.  It’s hard to believe that we have communities within our modern society that can exist and thrive without electricity and all the conveniences that the rest of us can’t live without!  If you visit the Amish area, many of the locals have little shops in or near their farms.  Visitors can purchase colorful handmade quilted items, homemade pastries and canned goods, plants, beautiful handmade furniture, and get your horse’s harness repaired at the same time!
  2. Pymatuning Lake.  I grew up there, so I’m a little prejudiced.  Pymatuning Lake is located in northwestern PA on the border of PA and Ohio.  It is located within Pymatuning State Park and is the largest man-made lake in Pennsylvania.  The lake is 18 miles long and has over 26 square miles of lake surface.  In 1931, when my dad was 9 years old, he and my grandfather attended the ground breaking ceremonies for the lake.   They saw the first shovel full of dirt removed that would later become Pymatuning Lake Reservoir.  If you are an outdoors person, you can swim, hike, camp, fish, go boating, picnic, and explore.  But make sure you don’t miss the Pymatuning Spill Way.  That’s where you get to feed the fish!  There are so many, the duck’s walk on their backs!!
  3.  Pittsburgh, PA. It’s a cultural hub for all the arts and it’s the home of our three major league sports teams, the Steelers, the Penguins, and the Pirates.  The Strip District is in downtown Pittsburgh and is a great market place filled with lots of people, cooking street vendors, markets with fresh produce, restaurants, places to shop, and the home of the Mancini breads and the Primanti Brothers’ famous super stuffed sandwich with French fries.  Oh, and if you listen carefully, you’ll pick up some of the famous Pittsburghese language!  Fun!

With a background in teaching, can you give us a few tips on capturing a child’s attention and relaying a moral lesson?

Phew – that’s a big question!!  I may not answer your exact question, but here’s what came to mind as I reflected on it.

  • Make learning fun!  When kids are engaged, they will take more ownership for their own learning.
  • Help kids develop confidence!  I had very little confidence as a kid – all the way through adulthood.  I recognized this weakness in myself, so I made it a goal to try to help develop confidence in my own children and my students.  Kids have vivid imaginations.  I’ve found that if kids can tap into their own creativity and develop ideas – without judgment – they will develop more confidence.
  • Teach tolerance!  Everyone, kids and adults, all of us, have gifts and talents.  Our interests and abilities vary.  We are not the same.  I believe that we have all come here to share our gifts and talents, and to share our differences.  How boring we would be if we were all the same!!  Each one of us is an integral piece of a gigantic universal puzzle.

 

What do your grandchildren think of Grammy Pags the Author? Storytime with Grammy Pags

Our grandchildren are young – ages 7 to 1.5.  The younger ones don’t know what an author is.  However, our oldest grandson, Orion, totally gets it!  Orion was the inspiration for the story, “Three Little Gnomes and a Boy Named Orion.”   The story has changed from the original version I wrote in 2009.  It’s longer and beautifully illustrated by Ratna Kusuma Halim of Indonesia.  I had a book launch birthday party for “The Three Little Gnomes” book and Orion came to the event and signed books too!  He was a star for the day and loved it!!

 

What can we expect from Rhonda Paglia in the next 12 months? 

Writing, writing, writing!

 

Where can readers and fans connect with you?  Thank you for asking.  Here’s the contact info for GRAMMY PAGS STORIES

 

Any advice for authors out there who are either just starting out or getting frustrated with the industry?Leana's book signing 2

  1. Have fun!  Do what you love!
  2. Frustration is part of the game.  Figure out why you are doing what you do, then figure out your goals, the reach for them.  What happens if you don’t reach?  A big NOTHING!   But if you reach, anything can happen!
  3. The kid’s book market is crazy huge.  Try to find your niche.  I’m still searching for mine!
  4. Write what you like and HAVE FUN!  For me, that’s my goal!  Girls just want to have fun!!  Well, this Grammy just wants to have fun too . . .  and maybe give my readers a few smiles!!

Wow! Thanks for sharing with us today Rhonda. I love the fact that you’ve been honest and just loving the journey. I love your advice about writing what you like and having fun. Rhonda and I would love to hear any questions or comments you may have. I hope her zest for life has been an inspiration for you as it has for me. Remember to share this interview on social media using the social buttons and grab one of Rhonda’s books at the link below

Rhonda Paglia Books on Amazon

 

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