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1. Goal Time - My 2017 Finish Lines

This is the time of year I reflect and then look forward. Usually. Last year I purposefully avoided the big think. I was in such a bad place in my writing life. I didn’t want to look back because that was what opened the dark hole in my head. I didn’t want to look forward because I really didn’t care if I ever wrote another word. So I went into 2016 without any goals. Without a plan. Without guilt. It was AMAZING!

Now as we approach 2017, I’m excited to say that I’m writing again. I completed two new manuscripts in 2016 – quite surprising actually. To be honest, when I see that sentence, “I completed two new manuscripts in 2016” I think, Holy sh*t! I did?! Oddly, I now have a new set of problems. What to do with them. However, this post isn’t about my screwed up writer’s head, so I’ll simply say I keep changing my mind as to what my next path will be in the world of writing and because of that, my career is still pretty halted. As hard as it is to have two completed manuscripts doing nothing for me, I really want to follow a plan, so until I figure out what that is I’m restraining myself from acting on all of the knee jerk thoughts that flit through my cluttered mind.

I’m working on finishing a third manuscript and already have the general outline of the next book in that series. The writing on this one is slow, but I plan to put a big dent (dare I dream of finishing!) in it while I’m visiting the east coast for three weeks. The ending of this WIP is going to be epic and I can’t wait to get to it. It’s like the carrot strung before my horse. It keeps me writing because I really, really can’t wait for it to unfold and to see the reactions of the characters. Though I don’t expect to finish the first draft of this manuscript before New Year’s Day, there is a distinct possibility I will be able to tick off a completed ms as early as the first week of 2017. Imagine that?!

Then I need to edit the time travel romance I recently completed. I want to submit this one to my publisher’s other imprint, which again is a different path than I intended to take when I planned this book in the first place. It’s crazy how quickly this industry shifts and either blocks a path, or opens a new one. CRAZY!

I need to figure out what to do with my YA contemporary that I’m currently subbing to agents. Stay the course? IDK. I really DK. I need someone to fall in love with my writing, but this submission processes really destroys my confidence. One minute I think, Just haven’t found thee one yet. The next minute (read hour/week/month) I think, It’s because I suck, my writing sucks or there’s just nothing special about it. Oh wait, I said this post isn’t about my screwed up writer’s head…moving on.

Going forward I have more writing and edits and all sorts of research and submissions (or different sort of work if I self pub) to find the right home for my work. However, I have a tentative goal of seeing at least one publication in 2017. Two would be fantastic. It doesn’t equal the four titles I published in 2014, but it’s more than the ZERO published in 2016. I’ve been happy with two publications per year in the past and would like to get the wheel turning so that I can do that again. Since I’m writing again, that is a distinct possibility.

I also hope to do a lot more public appearances in 2017. I love talking to readers, so I’ve set up several classroom visits with some wonderful local teachers, and I hope to do a few bookstore events. I’m always open to presentations and workshops. If you have a group (book club, writing group, classroom, etc) hit me up. If I can’t travel there, I can Skype.

Finally another focus will be my blog and my newsletter. They are great ways for me to stay in touch with readers and the writing community. I hope to share relevant and interesting information that will keep you aware of not only the status of my career, but of other great books and authors. You’ll continue to see #InkRipples, author interviews, and book spotlights on my blog and giveaways, events, sales, and random related book interests in my newsletter.

I’m a planner and it’s nice to go into 2017 with a bit of a plan. It’s also nice that it isn’t the stringent, hardcore plan of years past. I think finding a happy medium will help me to develop better books with strong distribution for you – my favorite person – the reader. *Heart squish*

What about you? Any major goals in your life or career for 2017?

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2. Spotlight on Enchantress, Sacrifice by Denice Hughes Lewis

I'd like to welcome a writer friend of mine, Denice Hughes Lewis. She is celebrating the release of her young adult novel, Enchantress, Sacrifice. 

Welcome Denice! Congrats on the release. (Throws confetti!) Tell us about the book.

An invisible barrier protects an uncharted island and its natives from the world. A Beast grows deep within the island ready to destroy it. Only a baby can save the island, if she survives her forbidden birth and gains the powers of an Enchantress.

Elandra, the newborn, struggles in shadow until she can breathe light instead of air. Rescued after her mother’s murder by a monster with the soul of a woman, she hides underground. A secretive healer becomes her mentor. He sends her to the surface before her sixteenth birthday to gain the power that will fulfill her destiny. He hasn’t taught her how to control her emotions--the only thing that gives her a chance of survival. A shipwrecked young man complicates her feelings making her unwilling to accept her destiny as a savior. She chooses a quest to become normal, risking the lives of her loved ones, her own life, and the existence of the island.

How did this book come to be? 

This story wouldn’t have been written if my writing/author friend, Suzan Noyes, didn’t drag me to a writer’s conference. I needed something to read for five minutes and wrote a few chapters that were so well received that I was inspired to continue.

Oh, that's a great story. And can I just drool over your cover for a few moments? I really love it.

Before we share the really FUN book news, how about if we get our readers excited with a little sneak peek?

Born to Die

This damp dungeon slithers into my soul. So dark, that I can see nothing. Devoid of the thing I need most in this world in order to survive--the breath of light. Even the darkness cannot stop my ability to feel, to know exactly what my treasured friends are experiencing in their cells. I hear the roar of Bryntar as she fights the chain confining her clawed hand. Daniel suffers with chilling fear for me, rather than himself.
I block out all remembered pain, too much to bear now. For this is my fault. My desire to become normal was selfish. If I cannot find a way to save my loved ones before my execution, I shall go mad and the Beast will devour me.

Okay, readers now that your appetite is whetted, guess what? You can download Enchantress for FREE today and tomorrow (16th and 17th). Ahhh!!!! Isn't that great news? Do it now. We'll wait...


If you're seeing this post on the 18th, don't worry, it has only jumped up to $0.99. 

About the Author, Denice Hughes Lewis:

I love young adult fantasy, especially survival stories filled with adventure. If it's a coming-of-age story fraught with choices concerning personal responsibility, romance, family and life-or-death, all the better.

More of my loves include kids, animals, movies, nature, art, and especially adventures in unlimited imagination. My other interests involve writing plays, music, and directing for the stage. I'm an award- winning eBook author and screenwriter. When I'm not writing, I'm walking my Pomeranian dog, taking care of my 31-year-old blind pony and my 150-pound goat.


You can find Denice on Twitter: @DeniceHLewis, Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/denice.lewis.71
and her website: www.denicehugheslewis.com

Thanks for visiting, Denice. Best of luck to you and Enchantress.





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3. Three Times A Charm with Kama Falzoi Post and InHUMAN

You may remember that I participated in the cover reveal for InHuman by Kama Falzoi Post. And now I’m happy to host Kama herself as she celebrates the release of her book. Welcome to Three Times A Charm, Kama. Tell us a little about you.

I discovered a love of writing as a young girl and haven’t looked back since. My short stories have appeared in various online and print magazines, as well as an anthology of speculative fiction.  InHUMAN is my first young adult novel. When I’m not writing, you can find me living on the outskirts of a small city with my husband, son, step-kids, and too many cats.

Congratulations on the release. There is nothing like a book release and the best part is each release is as exciting as the one before. It never gets old. Please tell us about your book.

Mira’s mother sizes up bodies at the morgue like she’s rifling through the sales rack, until she finds one just right for the one they call Adam. Since Adam’s survival is the key to drawing out the Conduit—a slippery sort bent on evacuating souls from their human bodies—Mira must help him pass for a typical teenage boy and blend in.

Ironic, because blending in is has always been a challenge for her, especially with hair the color of a Dorito. But at their small, secluded prep school, blending in is a matter of life and death. Because the Conduit is watching.

I recommend my book to readers who like:

·        Rick Yancey, THE 5th WAVE
·        Jennifer L. Armentrout, OBSIDIAN
·        Stephanie Meyer, THE HOST

Oh, jeez, I loved all three of those recs. Now I’m itching to read InHuman. Let’s switch gears. In order to know your writing, we want to get to know you better. Give us the top three responses to the following:

Top 3 things you learned about the business after becoming a writer.

    1. Writing really is a business, and it helps to look at it like that. Shifting my perspective a bit and shaking my preconceptions about *being an author* (dreamy look) helped me keep a cool head when things didn’t go as planned.
    2. People in this business are awesome, and they really want to help you succeed. Listen to them.
    3. Writing is the easy part. But it is only the beginning of the journey.

Top 3 snacks to munch on while working.

    1. Every kind of crunchy food.
    2. My fingernails.
    3. Red wine. But not too much, or my characters make stupid decisions.

Top 3 favorite places.

    1. Snorkeling off Cinnamon Bay in St. John, Virgin Islands
    2. Butchering common Spanish phrases in Malaga, Spain
    3. Target.
Fingernails and stupid decisions - *snort*.  Kama, share with us all the places our readers can find more about you and InHUMAN.

Twitter: @KamaPost

I’m so glad you stopped in. Best of luck to you and to InHUMAN.


THANKS!

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4. Five Authors. Five #Freebies.

Are you ready for some freebies? Jen Finelli is the mastermind behind this collaborative giveaway. You can receive free chapters, a short story, a novella, and an awesome book by the awesome authors Jen, James Beamon, Ray Anyasi, and Crystal Collier. Oh and me. I’m talking scifi, historical fantasy, romance, super heroes and my very own super villains. Meet new authors, test drive their writing and be entertained all in one link!

Click here to find out more: http://bit.ly/2hiU5V8

Be sure to tell your reading obsessed friends! Happy reading. 

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5. #InkRipples 2017

Three years ago we started #InkRipples with the idea that if we tossed an idea into the inkwell, it would give fellow bloggers food for thought. We love to see how many different approaches there are to a single topic. We continue that tradition with our monthly 2017 #InkRipples topics. Each of these topics can be approached with a slant toward writers or readers, from the eyes of historians or researchers, with the idea of what has happened or what you’d like to see happen next.

For those of you who are always searching for topics for your blog, please consider joining us. There are no hard and fast rules on how to participate, we have the loose suggestion that you can post on the first Monday of each month, but last year Katie posted multiple Monday’s on the same topic and I think I’ll follow suit on some of these topics this year. If Monday doesn’t work because you already have a feature that day, then post another day.

The only two things we’d like you to do is 1) link back to our blogs in your post and 2) use #InkRipples when you promote. I personally do a search on that hashtag at least once a month so I can visit any post I might not have spotted in my Facebook or Twitter feeds. Plus it helps us to find your link for cross-promotion.

Without further ado, here are our topics for 2017:

January:              Book covers
February:             Genres
March:                 Tropes
April:                   Revision
May:                   Fairy Tales
June:                  Blurbs
July:                   Heroes/Villains
August:               Author Options in Publishing
September:         World Building
October:             Career vs Hobby
November:          Finishing that Book!
December:          Goals

To make it easy-peasy, copy and paste this paragraph in your posts:

#InkRipples is a themed meme hosted by Mary Waibel, Katie L. Carroll, and Kai Strandposting on the first Monday of every month. To participate compose your own post regarding the theme of the month, and link back to the three host blogs. Feel free to post whenever you want during the month, but be sure to include #InkRipples when you promote so readers can find you. The idea is that we toss a word or idea into the inkwell and each post is a new ripple. There is no wrong interpretation. Themes and images and more information can be found here.

Which topic(s) has your mind churning? 

We look forward to you joining us in 2017, starting right off the bat on January 2nd - or, you know, whenever. I personally have a series of posts planned in January about book covers. I'm so excited to share with you!

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6. December #InkRipples – Cookies


Yesterday (December 4) was National Cookie Day. According to Punchbowl, the English word “cookie” is derived from the Dutch word “koekje,” which means little cake. Dutch bakers used to test oven temperatures on small amounts of batter so that they would not waste the entire cake mix if the temperature wasn’t right. It was not long before they discovered that these tiny pieces of cooked batter were actually quite tasty!

Funnily enough, I didn’t know about National Cookie day, but the day before, my daughter mentioned that she wanted to celebrate by baking some cookies. I thought to myself, “Hey, I have a blog post due to post on Monday about cookies. Sweet!” So I asked her what kind of cookies she wanted to make so I could buy the ingredients. She chose chocolate and peanut butter chip cookies. Not once did I complain.

When I was a tween I used to love experimenting with cookies. I would throw anything that seemed compatible into cookie dough, I’d make huge cookies and tiny quarter sized ones. Obviously I never came up with the next “it” cookie or I’d be blogging about baking, not writing. But it was fun to do.

I rarely bake now. I don’t have the patience. But I love to eat the results of other people’s efforts. My favorite kind of cookie is probably snickerdoodles – mostly because of nostalgia. Mom used to bake them when I was little. Do you bake? Do you take care packages to your neighbors this time of year? What is your favorite kind of cookie?

By the way: We've determined our topics for #InkRipples 2017. I'll be posting the topics here on my blog on Wednesday. Please swing by again to make note of which months you'd like to join us. We'd love to have your thoughts added to the ripple. 


#Inkripples is a themed meme hosted by Mary Waibel, Katie L. Carroll, and Kai Strand posting on the first Monday of every month. To participate compose your own post regarding the theme of the month, and link back to the three host blogs. Feel free to post whenever you want during the month, but be sure to include #inkripples when you promote so readers can find you. The idea is that we toss a word or idea into the inkwell and each post is a new ripple. There is no wrong interpretation. Themes and images and more information can be found here.

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7. Authors Meeting Authors (Fangirling Involved)

If you aren't an author yourself, you might think that we all hobnob with each other regularly. But the truth of it is, we almost all have our own holy grail of authors that when/if we meet we are reduced to squealing fans around.


Before I was published, I met Tamora Pierce. The reason I was at her reading was because I was a fan, not because I was an aspiring writer. So when I won a copy of her new book in a drawing, I was beyond happy. But I've always been painfully shy, and I couldn't even bring myself to approach her to get the book signed. What a dork! I really wish I could relive that moment.

Just to prove I'm not the only author out there who fangirls when she meets her faves, I collected a few stories to share.
Tracey M. Cox on meeting Bruce Coville:

It was amazing. One of those moments when you tell yourself to, “Be cool. Be cool”, but inside your hopping around going, “Oh my gosh. Oh. My. Gosh. OH MY GOSH!” Hahaha.

Kim McDougall on meeting Timothy Findley

It was a long time ago (maybe 20 years): Timothy Findley is the author of my all-time favorite novel "Not Wanted on the Voyage." I met him at Books and Breakfast in Montreal's Ritz Carleton at a signing for his newest release Piano Man's Daughter. I told him I wished that I had a copy of Not Wanted on the Voyage for him to sign, but I loved it so much that I kept giving my copies away to friends to read. He asked me for my address and said he would try to send me one. Months went by and I forgot about it. Then in the mail, I received a hardcover version of the book with his usual mantra "Against Despair" and his signature. He apologized for the wait because he'd been on tour. But he didn't forget. Classy guy. 

Melissa Abramovitz on meeting Ray Bradbury

In 1986 I attended a lecture and book signing by Ray Bradbury in Santa Barbara. At the time, I was hoping to start writing professionally and was taking a class through the Institute of Children's Literature. After the lecture, I asked Bradbury to sign one of his books for me, and told him that his lecture had really inspired me to start writing a story that had been percolating in my brain for several years. He was so gracious and encouraging, it was really awesome to hear someone so famous taking the time to encourage me. And I still remember the advice he gave me: "Never give up. Writing is hard, but if you love it and stick with it, you will get somewhere." I went home and started writing that story, and three years later it was published as a novella.  

Me on meeting Maggie Stievfater

I learned she'd be presenting at WordStock one year and this time I was determined to overcome my stupid shyness. I even stood in a long line in order to get her signature. When I finally got to the front, I said something like, "Hi, I don't know if you'll remember my name or not, but I'm Kai Strand." She responded very enthusiastically that of course she remembered. My niece was with me and doing a project for her blog and Maggie graciously allowed her to video the interaction while she signed my book. BTW, Maggie is hysterical, so it was tons of fun all around. I was pretty tongue tied, though she assured me I didn't sound like a simpleton or an idiot. I took my book back and wandered off, totally happy to have met one of my all-time faves. 

Then I read the signature. She actually did remember me! She's so cool!

Have you geeked out over an author or a celebrity that you met? I'd love to hear your story.

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8. Cover Reveal #FadinIintotheShadows by Kelly Hashway

Cover Reveal time. I love participating in cover reveals. Covers are so much fun! First, let's find out what this book is all about.

Fading Into the Shadows by Kelly Hashway

When sixteen-year-old Ella Andrews’s best friend, Avery, goes missing, she’ll do anything to get him back—starting with punching the no-brain cop who couldn’t care less about the disappearance.

Ella’s convinced Avery’s been kidnapped, and she tries everything to find him—even following a strange shadow to another world where the constellations are real-life figures in the sky. But three star groups have fallen and are destroying the world.

The fallen constellations are not the only enemy. Melanie, the princess of Stellaris, is forcing Ella, Avery, and an army of other kids kidnapped from their world to fight the rogue constellations, even as the land is draining away their life. The longer they stay, the more they fade into substanceless shadows—a fate worse than death.

Stay up to date: Facebook.com/KellyHashway

Coming January 16, 2017!

Okay, ready? Drum roll please:




Here's how you can stay in touch: 

All Links for Kelly Hashway
Google+: https://plus.google.com/u/0/+KellyHashway
YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/user/kellyhashway

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9. November #InkRipples - Heritage


Heritage:

Noun

1. something that is handed down from the past, as a tradition

2. something that comes or belongs to one by reason of birth; an inherited lot 
or portion

3. something reserved for one

Yeah...seriously. I got nothing to add to this topic. Is that sad, or what? My maiden name is SMITH, so that doesn't help. We have no family traditions, no titles, no HERITAGE. 

So help me out. Do you have a heritage you like to brag on? Please share it in the comments.

#Inkripples is a themed meme hosted by Mary Waibel, Katie L. Carroll, and Kai Strand posting on the first Monday of every month. To participate compose your own post regarding the theme of the month, and link back to the three host blogs. Feel free to post whenever you want during the month, but be sure to include #inkripples when you promote so readers can find you. The idea is that we toss a word or idea into the inkwell and each post is a new ripple. There is no wrong interpretation. Themes and images and more information can be found here.

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10. Building Character with Alexia Dumont from Timeless by Crystal Collier

Yay – it’s Friday! Friday’s begin the weekend and weekends offer all sorts of READING time! So to help you make your reading decisions, I’d like to introduce you to Alexia Dumont from her newly released book Timeless by Crystal Collier.

Alexia & her author Crystal are on tour promoting Timeless (Maiden of Time #3) and they have AWESOME giveaways going on, so be sure to spin the wheel at the bottom of this interview.

Welcome to Strands of Thoughts, Alexia. Can you tell us a little about you, please?


Hello. *waves uncomfortably* I am Alexia Dumont, only child of Baron Dumont and heir. While my father’s estate is impressive, it compares little to the heritage my mother left me: the power to manipulate or travel through time. I am the Maiden of Time. My mother before me, who left this world when I was born, was also the Maiden of Time.

Maiden of Time? That sounds fun. So, do you just hop from decade to decade and enjoy the current fashions, or what?

I left my husband and home in the eighteenth century to stop the Soulless from becoming. With little enough information, I stepped back through time and have been surviving the thirteenth century while gathering my people, and questioning if I sacrificed my happily ever after for a vain hope.

But forgive me, I have not explained the Soulless. They are eternal creatures who live in darkness and only come out to hunt (or prey upon the living) on moonless nights. Once they were like me—gifted, long-living, and *clears throat uncomfortably* beautiful. The Soulless curse came upon them by means of a madman. I know little else. But it spreads. When the Soulless prey upon one of my bloodline, that individual becomes like them: eternal, rotting corpses who can never be sated, and who hunt every moonless night.

It is them I seek to free. And those they have brought to ruin.

Oh, so not so fun after all. What are some of the biggest issues you’ve run into while trying to stop the Soulless?

Other than my time nearing? I am with child, soon give birth, and then I shall no longer be found upon the earth. My daughter, who was born in the thirteenth century, could not explain my absence in her childhood, and my husband (who has lived for centuries) tells me the eighteenth century is the only time in which he has discovered of me.

My husband… I fear what will become of him when I do not return.

Wait. You daughter was born in the thirteenth century and your husband lives in the eighteenth? My mind just imploded. Besides blowing peoples’ minds, is there anything else about you that people give you a hard time over? Does it bother you?

They tell me I trust too easily. Well, I would rather live in a world where I trust one too many people wrongly than trust no one. We are meant to build relationships and rely on others.

I’m like that too. Sometimes I feel so gullible, but I can’t imagine being cynical instead. Any final words of wisdom to share?

Treasure those you love. Your time with them is finite, and though it seems this moment will stretch forever, too soon it will end. Make each day precious.

Thanks, Alexia, for joining us today. Best of luck on your quest. Readers, here is some more information on Alexia’s story, Timeless.

TIME IS THE ENEMY

In 1771, Alexia had everything: the man of her dreams, reconciliation with her father, even a child on the way. But she was never meant to stay. It broke her heart, but Alexia heeded destiny and traveled five hundred years back to stop the Soulless from becoming.

In the thirteenth century, the Holy Roman Church has ordered the Knights Templar to exterminate the Passionate, her bloodline. As Alexia fights this new threat—along with an unfathomable evil and her own heart—the Soulless genesis nears. But none of her hard-won battles may matter if she dies in childbirth before completing her mission.

Can Alexia escape her own clock?

Buy it now:


And here is the 411 on Alexia’s author. I can vouch for Crystal’s epic writing talent. She was part of the short story blog I hosted, Lightning Quick Reads, and I loved her work!

Crystal Collier is an eclectic author who pens clean fantasy/sci-fi, historical, and romance stories with the occasional touch of humor, horror, or inspiration. She practices her brother-induced ninja skills while teaching children or madly typing about fantastic and impossible creatures. She has lived from coast to coast and now calls Florida home with her creative husband, four littles, and “friend” (a.k.a. the zombie locked in her closet). Secretly, she dreams of world domination and a bottomless supply of cheese. You can find her on her blog, FacebookGoodreads, or follow her on Twitter.


(Email address is required for awarding prizes.)

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11. Cover Reveal: Inhuman by Kama Falzoi Post

Today, I have the distinct pleasure of revealing the cover for InHuman, a sci-fi thriller by Kama Falzoi Post! Without further ado, here's the amazing cover!


TitleInHuman
Author: Kama Falzoi Post
Genre: YA Sci-Fi
Release date: December 13, 2016


About InHuman


Mira’s mother sizes up bodies at the morgue like she’s rifling through the sales rack: this one’s too big… this one’s too small… ah, here it is. Just right. The perfect vessel for the one they’ll

call Adam.



Since Adam’s survival is the key to drawing out the Conduit—a slippery sort bent on evacuating souls from their human bodies—Mira must help him pass for a typical teenage boy. That means showing him how to talk right, walk right, chew with his mouth open... blend in.


Ironic, because blending in is has always been a challenge for Mira, especially with hair the color of a Dorito. But at their small, secluded prep school, blending in is a matter of life and death.
Because the Conduit is watching.




About Kama Falzoi Post



Kama Falzoi Post is a functioning member of society, a part-time introvert, a pinnacle of contradictions, the mother of a hurricane, a step-mother, and an author. She enjoys drinking red wine and then drinking more red wine, listening to music that moves her, and taking things too far.

She developed a love of books and writing at a very early age. Her stories have appeared in a handful of literary magazines including Inkwell and SmokeLong Quarterly, and most recently in the anthology Outliers of Speculative Fiction. She lives in a small town outside a small city with her husband, son, and too many cats.

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12. Monday Stress Relief

It strikes me that we have two things going against us (at least in the U.S.) today. An intense political climate and the fact that it's Monday. So to help you relax a little, here are a few pictures of my cats. They are siblings born almost a year ago on Friday the 13th, making their all black fur extra fun! They've been a part of our family since January when they were old enough to leave their mama.

Whisper (who is actually really loud)

Jett (who we refer to as parkour kitty)

Jett is big with medium length fur. Whisper is small with short sleek fur. 
If a black cat crosses your path - pet it.

Make it a great week!

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13. My International Classroom Visit

There are certain decisions that become more important when you know they will be on display. Which travel mug to use? The ceramic Starbucks hot air balloon. Lip color? Nothing too dark. The shadows can make you look like you’re going for the goth look. Pants or skirt? Pajama bottoms – it’s Skype, headshot only.

If you’re on my social media, you know I had the amazing opportunity to visit with a class of tenth grade literature students from Lycée International Nelson Mandela, Académie de Nantes. For those of you who have no working knowledge of French “Académie de Nantes” means school of Nantes. As in Nantes, France. Nantes, France is approximately 5,000 miles from my hometown of Bend, Oregon. Needless to say, I had to get up early that day. But not to travel, just to do my hair and make sure to catch the students before they went home for the day. There's quite a time difference between the west coast of America and France.

Last July the very innovative teacher, Marie-Hélène Fasquel, invited me to participate in a project with her class. Together we chose an excerpt from one of my young adult books. I provided some witty and charming information about myself for a slide show, which included a picture of 13 year old me standing under the Eiffel Tower, and Marie and I agreed on a date in October.


At the time it felt so far away, but I’m pretty sure I blinked and it was 6:00 am Pacific Daylight Time, Thursday, October 13th, and the first student was taking the hot seat in front of the camera.

“What is the hardest thing about writing? What is the easiest thing about writing?”



"Middles are the hardest!"

Each of the students came and sat in the hot seat to ask their question and listen to my answer. I was so grateful to Marie for arranging for me to meet each student like that. Plus my writer brain was exploding from all the fabulous character fodder. These students all had an uncanny confidence and attractiveness. 

One of the students asked if kids in American classrooms study my work like they were. I was a little sad to say that though I’ve done a number of classroom visits none of them have been after they studied a book, but then I remembered there is a class reading one of my books together and I’ll visit when they finish. So it’s happening. Yay!

There were some questions that are always hard for me to answer; favorite author, favorite books. When asked if I’ve ever read a book and realized my own books had influenced the writing, I hated to admit that I suspect I’m too dense to ever recognize that. Seriously, I can totally imagine myself thinking, "This is good. I like this author’s style." But never making a connection. Ha ha.

“Do you have to travel a lot as a writer for inspiration?”



“It isn’t required, but it’s a good excuse!”

I turned the tables a little and asked if they read my excerpt or listened to the audio recording. They all chimed in that they read it. Such smart kids! I mean, I don't write in French. I asked who liked to read and they all raised their hands so we talked books a bit.

The visit was just under an hour and it went way too fast. I’m beyond thrilled to know they spent time studying my work. I hope it resonated in some way like meeting them has within me. I can’t thank Marie enough for opening that door.

Merci beaucoup! À l'année prochaine.

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14. Cover Reveal for The Next Best Thing by Wendi Nunnery

Don't forget I've got a fun/easy giveaway running through Sunday. See this post for details and then hop on over to my Facebook and Twitter to share all the messages to enter to win. 

The Next Best Thing Blurb:

Four years ago, Emma Fraser’s first love took his own life. Now, twenty years old and in college, Emma and her best friend, Andy, are still mourning the loss of a friend and brother. Nothing is the same as it once was…and things are about to change even more.

Too heartbroken to even consider falling in love again, Emma stays distracted by school and work. Until she meets Landon and, for the first time ever, finds herself believing she might actually have a future with someone. But when Deegan Burke—the man responsible for all of Emma’s heartache—gets out of prison early, Emma is suddenly confronted by her worst fears. And when faced with choices she never thought she’d have to make, Emma discovers that the only person she really wants by her side is the last person she ever expected.

Pre-Order The Next Best Thing Here and Get 50% Off!

Author Bio:

Wendi Nunnery is the author of The Mayfield Family StoryThe Best Kept Secret, and The Next Best Thing. She is also the founding editor of Lady Literary Magazine and her work has appeared in The Huffington PostThe Simply Beloved, and Introvert, Dear. Wendi is a proud Georgia Southern University alum and believes colorful language is good for the soul. She lives, loves, and mothers in Atlanta, Georgia.



Connect with Wendi:


Learn More About Wendi’s Books:

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/13621604.Wendi_Nunnery

Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Wendi-Nunnery/e/B00NI34FUC/ref=dp_byline_cont_book_1

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15. Word of Mouth #Giveaway

Let’s have some fun! Help introduce me and my work to fellow readers and you might win one of two fun big mouth key chains.


Bright and early each morning during the week of October 10 – 16, I’ll put a post on my Facebook page and Twitter that you can share. You’ll know which post because it will include the hashtag #BigMouth. Each time you share them, you’ll be entered for a chance to win one of two fun key chains. The winners will be chosen randomly (week of October 17th) from a pool of all the shares.

Just to be crazy, I’m gonna make this open internationally, so share and share and don’t worry about who’s watching, because everybody can get in on this one. To qualify to win not only must you share my message on Facebook and/or Twitter, you must follow me on the social media outlet where you shared my message. 

Thanks for your participation! I hope it's fun for you - and GOOD LUCK!

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16. Back on Submission Again

Have I ever told you how much I love spreadsheets? Yeah. *Sighs* I’ve got a spreadsheet for everything. Henceforth, I know the last three things I submitted were novels to my current publishers – two years ago. They were all accepted – so yippee for that!

There are points in your career when you stop and re-evaluate the direction you want to go, the opportunities you have, and if your goals have changed. I’m sitting smack dab in the middle of that point right now. It’s like a huge, deserted crossroads. It’s dark. There are tumbleweeds and maybe a scarecrow – or an ax murderer. Like I said, it’s a dark and vast point. I can’t really see where any of the roads lead. They all seem to have similar terrain; things to trip over, rises and valleys, occasional smooth, groomed patches. I’ve traveled along a couple of the paths already and had a mixture of good experiences, mediocre experiences, and lackluster experiences. In other words no path is perfect and sometimes knowing the path makes you hesitant to take it again.

*Sigh*

So, I decided it was time to dust off the submissions spreadsheet, add a 2016 tab and get my current WIP out there into the world and see if I can attract agent representation. Oh my gosh, am I really doing this? See the thing about this route is the pace – or lack there of. Even if I were to have an agent request a full today, I’d still have to wait for them to read and then assuming they love it and decide to offer representation, and we do the contract signing, etc, then the manuscript will go through another bout of edits before it goes out on submission to publishers. Which is always followed by another hurry up and wait…but let’s assume an editor loves it and we go through the contract process together and then the edits with the publisher and the cover stuff and marketing and …well, best case scenario – this book will publish at the end of 2018.

The expected response.
But it only takes one YES!
Working with small press and self-publishing, I published 12 books in 4 years. Waiting a minimum of 2 years for this one book to see daylight – in a perfect storm of contracts and edits – that has me worrying my bottom lip. But, knowing the unlikelihood of a perfect storm to line up for a speedy two year publication? Now I’m hyperventilating again. I mean, longer than two years? Really? However, I’d really, really like to take the next step in the world of publication and broaden my distribution and I feel my best opportunity is with agent representation. So, I’m going back into submission mode.

Believe it or not, you can help. Like or comment on my Facebook page or Instagram. Post a review on Amazon/Barnes & Noble/Goodreads for the books of mine that you’ve read. Agents get a TON of submissions. They are actually harder to attract than a publisher! If an agent is considering my manuscript and sees that I have an engaged audience of readers, they are more likely to offer me representation. And I'd be grateful for the help.

What will I do in the meantime? Write. I’m working on a fantasy. What better way to distract myself from obsessively checking my email than to escape into a completely made up world? And at least I get to add to my spreadsheet, and color code, and update, and geeky things like that. 

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17. October #InkRipples – Masks





I love Andrew Lloyd Weber’s, Phantom of the Opera, and this is one of my favorite moments of the production. Beside the epic choreography, the scene—the lyrics—are so relatable. ♫Look around. There’s another mask behind you♫ We’ve all known people who wear a mask whenever they are in public.

Most people aren’t as obvious as the Mayor from Halloween Town, but if we look really, really close, we might be more aware of when their head spins between a frowny face and a smiling face.

We also know people like the queen bee at school who compliments your skirt – to your face.

But you know what? We all have to wear a mask at one point or another. When you run into an ex co-worker at the pizza shop one night and she asks how it’s going. Are you really going to tell her your husband’s business failed, your oldest kid got busted for shoplifting, and you can’t find a job for more than $13/hour? No. You’re going to paste on the Mayor’s smile and say, “Fine! Everything is fine. You?”

The important thing is to know when to wear a mask and when not to. It can be far too easy to simply wear one constantly. But we need time in our lives without our masks in order to make connections. To live. To learn. To love.

To live: Imagine you talked your way into a job above your skill level by alluding that you had the proper experience. As you settle into your new job at the higher pay, you go out and buy a new car, maybe rent a larger apartment, because you’ve hit the big time. But each day you run into situations you aren’t actually able to handle. Since you wore that mask of experience to get the job, you can’t ask for help. What do you think will happen? You will crash and burn. But if you approached the position with the experience you do have and stated your desire to excel at the job they are offering and asked how you might go about getting experience in order to be qualified for the job…you will have represented yourself honestly and probably earned their respect.

To learn: The problem with a mask is it often limits your perspective. Looking through eye holes can cut off peripheral vision. Have you ever done the teamwork exercise where you place several items on the seat of a chair, have people stand in a circle around it and describe what they see? Not everybody sees everything. But when they share their view, it combines with yours to make a complete picture.

To love: Think about it. If you only ever saw your partner while wearing a figure-hugging girdle under your clothes, what happens when you take that bad boy off? Your partner will feel deceived. Not because you are suddenly lumpy, but because you always have been and you never trusted them enough to share that. Now, let’s re-imagine this relationship where you take off the figure hugging girdle sometime around the second or third date. Or maybe only don it for those truly special occasions when you want to feel extra sexy. Guess what. It’s YOU your partner falls for. Not your lump-less figure. But you can’t know that if you don’t give them the chance.

 
Masks can be totally acceptable. But chose wisely when to don one.

The mask I feel I have to wear most often is the This situation isn’t annoying me one bit mask. What mask do you feel you put on most frequently? 

#InkRipples is a themed meme hosted by Mary Waibel, Katie L. Carroll, and Kai Strand posting on the first Monday of every month. To participate compose your own post regarding the theme of the month, and link back to the three host blogs. Feel free to post whenever you want during the month, but be sure to include #inkripples when you promote so readers can find you. The idea is that we toss a word or idea into the inkwell and each post is a new ripple. There is no wrong interpretation. Themes and images and more information can be found here.

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18. Cover Reveal for Motley Education by S.A. Larsen


I'm SO excited to share the cover reveal for S.A. Larsen's upcoming middle grade book Motley Education. I read an early version of this book and you're gonna want to put this bad boy...er girl...on your reading list! 

First let's hear about the book:

Forget having a lively after school social life, Ebony Charmed is fighting to keep the entire Afterlife alive.

Ebony’s less-than-average spirit tracking abilities are ruining more than sixth grade at Motley Junior High: School for the Psychically & Celestially gifted. Her parents argue so much her dad moved out. And, even though he’s scared of his own shadow and insists on bringing his slimy, legless lizard everywhere they go, Ebony wouldn’t survive without her best friend, Fleishman.

When Ebony’s Deadly Creatures & Relics’ project goes missing, she learns her missing project is one of the keys to saving the spirit world. Now Ebony and Fleishman must battle beasts from Norse Mythology to retrieve her project before spirits are lost, the Well of Urd dries up, and Ebony loses all hope of reuniting her family. But someone lies in wait, and he has other plans...including creating a new world of spirits without them in it.

See? Awesome, right? Go ahead - add it to Goodreads. I'll wait...

ADD TO GOODREADS

Okay, now for the reveal. Ack, so, so cool!!!!!


Title: Motley Education (Book One: The URD Saga)
Author: S.A. Larsen
Release Date: October 10, 2016

Motley Education has been aligned with Core Standards for grades 4-7. A guide will be available on the author’s websiteto download for FREE after the book’s release date.

About S.A. Larsen

S.A. LARSEN is the author of Motley Education, the first book in a middle grade fantasy-adventure series. Her work has appeared in numerous local publications and young adult anthologies Gears of Brass and Under A Brass Moon by Curiosity Quills Press.Look for her debut young adult novel, Marked Beauty, set for release in 2017. Find her in the land of lobsters, snowy winters, and the occasional Eh’ya with her husband of over twenty years, four children, a playful pooch, and two kittens.

You can visit her online at www.salarsenbooks.com.

Follow her on Facebook| Twitter | Instagram and connect with her on her Website & Blog.


Rafflecopter Giveaway 
Five lucky winners will each receive a signed bookmark and assorted swag! Contest runs from 09/15/16 to 09/23/16. Winners will be chosen by random.com.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

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19. Three Times A Charm with Kathy Coatney

Welcome to Three Times A Charm. I love to introduce readers to the people involved in children’s publishing. Today we welcome children’s non-fiction author and photographer, Kathy Coatney. Kathy, we’d love for you to tell us a little about you.

California native Kathy Coatney has spent long hours behind the lens of a camera, wading through rice paddies, dairies and orchards over her twenty-year career as a photojournalist specializing in agriculture. With her roots in agriculture running four generations deep, she felt a deep concern that children didn’t know how their food was produced. Envisioning a new direction for her writing, she launched From the Farm to the Table series of nonfiction children’s books about agriculture. 

Happily married for over thirty-five years, she and her husband have two grown sons, a grandbaby on the way and a menagerie of animals—a black lab who thinks she’s human, a house cat that looks part bobcat, and half a dozen cottontails that roam freely on her property.
Kathy not only pens two series of children’s books, From the Farm to the Table and Dad’s Girls, a tribute book told by six-year-old Lily about her dad who died while her mom was pregnant with her sister, Violet.

Also writing under Kate Curran, Kathy loves—and writes—deeply emotional, feel-good contemporary romances.

Let’s hear more about your books.  

From the Farm to the Table Bees
From the Farm to the Table Beef

My other children’s book is Dad’s Girls,

Lily and her dad were very close. They spent lots of time together. Friday was her dad’s day off, and they did special things together while her mom taught school. But then a few months before her sister, Violet, was born, her dad died, and everything changed.

This is Lily’s story about all the special memories of her dad. She told it to preserve the memories for her and for Violet, who never had a chance to know him.

Now let’s move on to the threes. Give us your top 3 responses to the following to help us get to know you better.

  • Top 3 books you recommend reading and why you recommend them. 

The first two books From the Farm to the Table are some of my favorites that teach children about the import job insects and animals do to make our food.  The third book, Dad’s Girls is about Lily the little girl on the cover of the From the Farm to the Table Olive book. Her father died suddenly last year of a heart attack at the age of the 34 leaving behind Lily and her unborn sister, Violet. This book is a collaboration between Lily, her mom, Jenny and myself to remember a man we all loved dearly.

  • Top 3 leisure activities.

I have several activities I enjoy, mountain biking, running, hiking that I don’t get to do as often as I’d like, snowshoeing, cross country skiing, kayaking and yoga that I’m not getting to as often as I’d like but going to start again.

  • Top 3 personal mantras or inspirational phrases.

If you want to be big think big, go big or go home, just do it.

Finally, please share with us where our tech savvy readers can find out more about you and your books.     


Thanks for joining us today, Kathy. It was great to get to know more about you and your work.

THANKS!

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20. Cover Reveal - Timeless by Crystal Collier

TIMELESS (#3 Maiden of Time) by Crystal Collier #CoverReveal


You know how it is to walk around with a secret? Well, yeah...I've been holding this info aside for -what seems like - FOREVER! But today I finally get to share it with you too. Crystal Collier is revealing the beautiful cover for the final book in her Maiden of Time series. It's as eye-catching as the first two covers and knowing what an awesome author Crystal is...well, I'm sure the book is just as spectacular. Giveaway below, free 1st chapter available...but first...drum roll...


Book Title: TIMELESS (Maiden of Time #3)
Author: Crystal Collier
Genre: YA Paranormal Historical
Release Date: November 1, 2016



TIME IS THE ENEMY

In 1771, Alexia had everything: the man of her dreams, reconciliation with her father, even a child on the way. But she was never meant to stay. It broke her heart, but Alexia heeded destiny and traveled five hundred years back to stop the Soulless from becoming.

In the thirteenth century, the Holy Roman Church has ordered the Knights Templar to exterminate the Passionate, her bloodline. As Alexia fights this new threat—along with an unfathomable evil and her own heart—the Soulless genesis nears. But none of her hard-won battles may matter if she dies in childbirth before completing her mission.

Can Alexia escape her own clock?



a Rafflecopter giveaway


Crystal Collier is an eclectic author who pens clean fantasy/sci-fi, historical, and romance stories with the occasional touch of humor, horror, or inspiration. She practices her brother-induced ninja skills while teaching children or madly typing about fantastic and impossible creatures. She has lived from coast to coast and now calls Florida home with her creative husband, four littles, and “friend” (a.k.a. the zombie locked in her closet). Secretly, she dreams of world domination and a bottomless supply of cheese. You can find her on her Blog, FacebookGoodreads, or follow her on Twitter.

Want the first chapter free? Sign up HERE.


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21. Three Times A Charm with Marilee Crow

Welcome to Three Times A Charm. I love to introduce readers to the people involved in children’s publishing. Today we welcome picture book author, Marilee Crow. Marilee is a fellow Angel—we’re both published by Guardian Angel Publishing. As a matter of fact, her new book, Saving Ellie, was illustrated by the lovely K.C. Snider, who illustrated the covers of my Weaver Tales books.

Tell us a little about yourself, Marilee.

I live in Meridian, Idaho. I am a retired PE teacher. I am also a former competitive gymnast. I competed for Long Beach State. After college, my husband and I opened our own gymnastic center, which we had for 18 years. After selling our business, I worked in Special Education as an aide and then an assistant PE teacher at a private school for students with social emotional problems. I have always been interested in writing. When I was 12 I wrote my own Nancy Drew mystery. My sister typed it up for me and we stapled it together like a book. I just never found the time to pursue the writing until we gave up gymnastics. Gymnastics took up pretty much every waking hour.

Wow, that’s the first thing I thought of when you said you competed! SO much dedication. I’m impressed. Tell us about Saving Ellie.

Saving Ellie is about an eight year old Polish child whose life gets turned upside down when the Germans invade Poland in 1939. Ellie is Jewish and her family makes the ultimate sacrifice and puts their trust in friends and strangers to keep Ellie safe until they can get her on a ship to America.

I recommend my book to readers who like Diary of Anne Frank.

It sounds very emotional. Now for the threes. Give us your top 3 responses to the following to help us get to know you better.

 Top 3 leisure activities.

My leisure activities include playing the guitar, crocheting, and writing. I crochet little bears because books and bears go together. I love doing craft events.

 Top 3 professions you wanted to be when you grew up.

Gymnastic coach.
Singer
Writer

            Top 3 favorite places:

            River
             Ocean
             Lake
             As you can see, I like being around water.
           
            Top 3 personal mantras or inspirational phrases.

             I have a few quotes that I keep by my computer when I’m writing. The first is “Books are a uniquely portable magic.” It is a quote by Stephen King.  “There is nothing to writing. All you do is sit down at the typewriter and bleed.” That’s my favorite. It’s a quote by Ernest Hemingway. There is also a page I copied from a writing book. “For some of us, books are as important as almost anything else on earth. What a miracle it is that out of these small, flat, rigid squares of paper unfolds world after world and world, worlds that sing to you, comfort and quiet or excite you. Books help us understand who we are and how we are to behave. They show us what community and friendship mean; they show us how to live and die.
            It is from a writing book called Bird by Bird.

            Top 3 favorite personality traits that appeal to you.

            Strength
            Perseverance
            Honesty

            Top 3 places you find writing inspiration.

            I collect pictures out of magazines. I
             have a daughter and have written down some of the funny things that have happened as she grew up.
            I also love to hear other parents talk about their children.

Here at Strands of Thought, we have some tech savvy readers. Where can they find you and your book online?

My email address is [email protected]  I have a website: booksbymarilee.blogspot.comand I am on Facebook.

Marilee, it’s been a pleasure getting to know you. Best of luck to your books and with your writing.

THANKS!

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22. September #InkRipples – Banned Books



Reader #1: “I’m offended by teens having sex. They shouldn’t allow those books into school libraries. Our teens might learn to have sex from them.”
Reader #2: “I don’t care if teens have sex as long as they aren’t the same gender. That might encourage an otherwise straight kid to be gay.”
Reader #3: “At least sex is a natural thing. What I can’t handle is if the teens are magic. What if it teaches people to try magic and they end up in Hell because of it? ”

Okay, I seriously have to stop. I’m just pissing myself off trying to come up with all the ignorant ways people condone book banning.

September 25 – October 1, 2016 is Banned Books Week. It is an annual event that celebrates the freedom to read. Read that sentence and more on this article about Banned Books Week: http://www.ala.org/bbooks/bannedbooksweek

Some of the banned books I’ve read include scandalous titles such as:

The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time by Mark Haddon banned or challenged for reasons of offensive language, religious viewpoint, unsuited for age group, and other (“profanity and atheism”).

An Abundance of Katherines by John Green, banned or challenged because it contained sexual references.

The Absolute True Story of a Part-Time Indian by Sherman Alexie, banned or challenged because of the use of the word scrotum. (Oh, wait? Can I use that offensive word?)

Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell, a book that made me laugh out loud and giddy as a schoolgirl was banned or challenged because of its use of profanity and its treatment of sexuality.

Hop on Pop by Dr. Seuss. Yes, you read that right. Parents wanted it removed from libraries because it promotes violence.

There are so many books that are challenged that we never know about because some small-minded person felt they should make a decision for all of us. Chances are you’ve read a banned or challenged book without realizing that title has experienced strife somewhere in the world.

As I’ve navigated this crazy job of parenthood, I’ve run into different subject matters that I didn’t want my children exposed to until their maturity developed. I suggested titles they should read and shouldn’t read along the way. THAT, ladies and gentlemen is the key. If you don’t want your child exposed to the word scrotum YOU can exercise your parental right to keep the book out of your child’s hands. However, YOU can’t make that decision for my child. For all you know we have words like scrotum, penis, and vagina stenciled on our bathroom walls to assure our children grow up knowing the different body parts. It’s not your place to decide if that’s right or wrong for MY children.

And—just a suggestion—when you’re reading Hop on Pop with your child—I don’t know—maybe you can have a quick conversation about how that would really feel to jump on a person’s stomach.

Supervision. Communication. PARENTING.

So, come on, live a little. Read a banned book to celebrate the right to read. Read it with/to your children and have an open conversation about the character’s excessive use of profanity or the consequences of having sex/doing drugs/being a bully. Be a parent and open your mind and the minds of those fine young people you are raising.

What banned books have you read? What title do you plan to read this year to celebrate the right to read?


Ripples in the Inkwell is a themed meme hosted by Mary Waibel, Katie L. Carroll, and Kai Strand posting on the second Monday of every month. To participate compose your own post regarding the theme of the month, and link back to the three host blogs. Feel free to post whenever you want during the month, but be sure to include #inkripples when you promote so readers can find you. The idea is that we toss a word or idea into the inkwell and each post is a new ripple. There is no wrong interpretation. Themes and images and more information can be found here.

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23. Three Times A Charm with Bob Richley

Welcome to Three Times A Charm. I love to introduce readers to the people involved in children’s publishing. Today we welcome children’s author, Bob Richley. Bob, can tell us a little about yourself?

I grew up in the Chicago area and now live in beautiful Colorado. Growing up, I would often go camping in the Rocky Mountains. It was these childhood camping trips and especially my visit to Crater Lake in Oregon that were the inspiration for events in the Oregon Kids series. I am a parent who has volunteered for years in children’s ministry. Teaching children good values and the grace of God are my passions. My stories, originally written for a single mom to help her raise her children, are a way to fulfill this passion. I have always loved children. I want all children to be raised with love and grace. It is my hope that my stories will be one of many tools that parents will use to teach and to raise their children with Godly values

I live about an hour and a half north of Crater Lake. Like Colorado, this is a beautiful place to raise children. Tell us more about your book.

The Big Catch is the first book in The Oregon Kids series. All the books have a character value lesson. The Big Catch was published May 10 2016. In The Big Catch, the value of being selfless and giving to others is exemplified. Billy and Autumn are brother and sister. At the beginning of the story, Billy is selfish, impatient and prideful. He sees his sister as a bother and burden. All that concerns him is fishing and catching the biggest fish. At the end, however, Billy shows compassion for his sister, Autumn. The Big Catch is meant to be read with your child. It gives parents an opportunity to discuss Billy’s character and presents a good example for teaching values of giving, being selfless, and sacrificing. The next book in the series, Runaway Whiskers is being published. Runaway Whiskers introduces a new character, Johanna. Johanna receives a pet rabbit from her dad. When she leaves the cage open one day, the rabbit, Whiskers, runs away. Autumn finds the rabbit and is reluctant to return it. Autumn learns the valuable lesson of being honest.

I recommend my book to readers who like Heidi by Johanna Spyri, The Sneetches by Dr. Seuss and The Giving Tree by Shel Silverstein

Now let’s move on to the threes. Give us your top 3 responses to the following to help us get to know you better.

  • Top 3 books you recommend reading and why you recommend them.
    • Heidi by Johanna Spyri because it teaches value of faith and touches my passion for the beauty of nature.
    • To Kill a Mocking Bird by Harper Lee because Atticus Finch is a wonderful father figure.
    • The Lord of the Rings by J. R. R. Tolkien because it is a wonderful adventure and teaches good values especially the value of friendship.

  • Top 3 tools of the trade you couldn’t live without.
    • Spell checker because I’m a terrible speller.
    • My computer because I have awful hand writing and need to type my stories.
    • Experiences because I draw upon them to write my stories.

  • Top 3 things you learned about the business after becoming a writer.
    • Writing is easy compared to marketing.
    • Authors actually pay for reviews and finding people who will review the book in exchange for a copy of the book is not easy.
    • There are plenty whose target market is an author.

  • Top 3 most admired people and why you admire them.
    • Jesus because he lived a perfect life and was murdered because he loved.
    • Leo Buscaglia because he spent his life promoting unconditional love.
    • Gandhi because he freed a country through non-violent methods. 

  • Top 3 snacks to munch on while working.
    • Ice Cream
    • Grapes
    • Granola bars

  • Top 3 leisure activities.
    • Trail running
    • Reading (of course)
    • Water skiing

  • Top 3 favorite ways to interact with readers.
    • Chat
    • Facebook comments
    • Interviews

  • Top 3 professions you wanted to be when you grew up.
    • Priest
    • Teacher
    • Day care professional

  • Top 3 favorite places.
    • Grand Teton National Park
    • Rocky Mountain National Park
    • The Philippians because my wife is from there.

  • Top 3 personal mantras or inspirational phrases.
    • Love is always bestowed as a gift - freely, willingly and without expectation. We don't love to be loved; we love to love. – Leo Buscaglia
    • It is more blessed to give than receive – Jesus
    • You must be the change you wish to see in the world. - Mahatma Gandhi

  • Top 3 favorite personality traits that appeal to you.
    • Creative
    • Compassionate
    • Caring

  • Top 3 places you find writing inspiration.
    • The mountains
    • Home/Family
    • Ministry/Church

Where can our tech savvy readers find you and your book online?


The book is available on Amazon and BarnesandNoble.com

Bob, it’s been a pleasure hosting you today. Best of luck to your book and with your writing.


THANKS!

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24. Building Character with Mercy from Scavenger of Souls by Joshua David Bellin

Yay – it’s Friday! Friday’s begin the weekend and weekends offer all sorts of READING time! So to help you make your reading decisions, I’d like to introduce you to Mercy from her newly released book Scavenger of Souls by Joshua David Bellin. She's brought a giveaway along with her, so be sure to read to the end.

Welcome to Strands of Thoughts, Mercy. Can you tell us a little about you, please?

You want to know about me? Really? Do I look like I have time for this?

Okay, fine. My name’s Mercy, I’m eighteen years old, and I’ve been stuck all my life inside this piss-poor excuse for a base commanded by my grandfather. Occasionally I manage to sneak out to hunt for Skaldi and other objectionable life forms, starting with my whack-job of a father. But that’s a long story, and I’m really not in the mood right now, okay?

Sure, Mercy. I understand. Let’s focus on the part you play in Scavenger of Souls. What conflict are you up against?

Not that it’s any of your business, but my entire life is one nonstop conflict. Yeah, I know, poor poor pitiful me. But I’m serious. I already told you about my dad and grandpa, plus now I’ve got to deal with this scrawny kid named Querry, who comes strolling into base claiming to be some kind of Skaldi-killing machine. Personally, I think he’s a spy. Or a fool. Take your pick. Either way, he’s a royal pain in the ass.

Well, from what I know of your world, Querry would be pretty darn handy if he truly is a Skaldi-killing machine. You might not want to dismiss him so quickly. Let’s see, maybe there’s a bright spot in all of this. Tell us about your best friend.

My best friend at the moment is my gun. Actually, that’s been my best friend for the past ten years. When I was little, I had my older sister, Beryl, and my older brother, Ardan, as playmates. But (see above) my whackadoodle father took both of them away from me. Like I said, long story. Not really in the mood.

Yeah, okay, so no bright spot. Is there anything about you that people are always giving you a hard time about? How do you feel about it?

You ask a lot of personal questions, you know? I’m not sure I like you so much.

But okay, one of the biggest problems I have is that I’m the only girl on a base filled with teenage boys. I know what you’re thinking, but that’s not the problem. The problem is that they seem to think they’re so freaking much better than me just because they’ve got a pair. So I find myself having to put them in their place from time to time. Which gives me a reputation as being kind of hostile. Which is just fine with me.

You, hostile? Imagine that. Though, admittedly, I don’t live in survival of the fittest environment. What do you want to be when you grow up?

Alive would be nice. Next question.

If you could change one thing in this world, what would you change?

Have you visited my world lately? It’s a freaking desert knee-deep in monsters. We’re holed up in this dump, and my dad’s out there causing no end of trouble, and my grandpa’s afraid of letting me outside the gate for fear that I might stub my toe or whatever, and now this Querry character is trying to trick me or put the moves on me or something equally annoying, I don’t even know.

So what would I change about this world? How about people leaving me alone? Starting with you.

Very well, Mercy. I’ll leave you alone. I appreciate you taking the time to visit with us. I imagine anything as frivolous as an interview can cost you dearly. Readers, here is some more information about Mercy’s book, Scavenger of Souls.

Querry Genn is running out of time.  He may have saved his survival colony and defeated a nest of the monstrous Skaldi, but that doesn’t mean he has any more answers to who he is. And Querry’s mother, Aleka, isn’t talking. Instead, she’s taken over the colony and is leading them through a wasteland of unfamiliar territory. But when they reach Aleka’s destination, everything Querry believed about his past is challenged.

In the middle of a burned-out desert, an entire compound of humans has survived with plenty of food and equipment. But the colonists find no welcome there, especially from Mercy, the granddaughter of the compound’s leader. Mercy is as tough a fighter as Querry has ever seen—and a girl as impetuous as he is careful. But the more Querry learns about Mercy and her colony, the more he uncovers the gruesome secrets that haunt Mercy’s past—and his own.

With threats mounting from the Skaldi and the other humans, Querry must grapple with the past and fight to save the future. In the thrilling conclusion to the story that began with Survival Colony 9, Joshua David Bellin narrates a tale of sacrifice, courage against overwhelming odds, and the fateful choices that define us for a lifetime.

Barnes & Noble, Simon & Schuster, IndieBound, etc.: http://joshuadavidbellin.com/my-books/

And here is a little info about Mercy’s author. Don’t worry; I’ll wait while you order the book. I understand…

Joshua David Bellin has been writing novels since he was eight years old (though the first few were admittedly very short). He taught college for twenty years, wrote a bunch of books for college students, then decided to return to fiction. Survival Colony 9 is his first novel, with the sequel, Scavenger of Souls, set to release on August 23, 2016. A third YA science fiction novel, the deep-space adventure/romance Freefall, will appear in 2017.

Josh loves to read, watch movies, and spend time in Nature with his kids. Oh, yeah, and he likes monsters. Really scary monsters.


a Rafflecopter giveawayHappy reading!

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25. Three Times A Charm with Nicky Peacock

Welcome to Three Times A Charm. I love to introduce readers to the people involved in children’s publishing. Today we welcome young adult author, Nicky Peacock. I’m visiting Nicky’s blog today too! I’ll share the link at the end of this interview, but first let’s get to know Ms. Peacock. Nicky, share with us a little about you.

I still live in the town I was born in (sad but true) A place called Corby. If the map of the UK were a person, I’d be living on his belt buckle. I was first published back in 2012 in a vampire anthology and have been submitting work ever since. I now have 35 short stories published and 4 YA novels through Evernight Teen Publishing. Growing up in a small town, I had no writing mentors or help with getting my start as a writer, so I run a free local writers group and volunteer at local schools and libraries to help the next generation of writers.

That’s very generous of you to do that. Mentoring is often the step a person needs to learn how to achieve their dreams and goals. Let’s hear more about your work. 

My two YA series are with Evernight Teen: Battle of the Undead is a Vampires VS Zombies series – there are currently two books (Bad Blood & Bad Timing) and a free prequel read (Traitors’ Gate) available. My second series, The Twisted and The Brave are supernatural thrillers based on classic children’s literature. The first book in the series, Lost in Wonderland is out now.

Traitors’ Gate – historical urban fantasy is a free read.
Bad Blood – is a vampires VS zombies urban fantasy
Lost in Wonderland – is a contemporary thriller twist on Lewis Carroll’s Alice in Wonderland

Okay, let’s move on to the threes. Give us your top 3 responses to the following to help us get to know you better.

    • Top 3 things you learned about the business after becoming a writer.

    1)        It’s hard work – even when you get your publishing deal. Modern writers are required to promote their books so expect to spend at least half of your writing time doing this. Personally, my day job is in marketing, so it’s not an issue for me. But I know some writers that shy away from promotion for just writing. The problem is, due to self-publishing we’re now in a flooded marketplace so authors need to get out there and search out spotlights for themselves and their work.
    2)        People think you earn a fortune. A sobering fact about being an author is that probably 70% are not paying their bills with their royalties. It’s a surprisingly small amount that can write full time and an even smaller amount that are in the same league as JK Rowling or Stephen King. I still have to maintain a full-time job to afford those luxuries in life such as food and shelter – but you never know…one day I might be able just to do what I love, write.
    3)        Being a single lady and an author is hard! (I’m yet to understand fully why) but as soon as a man finds out I’m an author, they go running off into the middle distance. I had one guy abandon me mid-date when I told him. Maybe I’m missing something? Perhaps they think I’m going to write about them? I do tend to base victim characters on people I don’t like so, maybe they’re right? LOL.

    • Top 3 snacks to munch on while working.

    1)      Peanut M&Ms – sweet, crunchy energy
    2)      Chocolate Brownies – there’s a cake shop in town that makes the most chocolatey moist, squidgy squares of fatty goodness you can buy. I always treat myself with one when I know I have a long writing session coming up.
    3)      Not so much a snack but a beverage: Russian Caravan tea. It’s smoky and strong and has enough of a kick to keep me working whilst making me feel slightly gypsy-like.

    • Top 3 personal mantras or inspirational phrases.

1)        You can’t please everyone – the best advice I was never given! I figured this out all on my own when my first book came out. Some readers like action, others romance and some want pages of description and then others don’t. The best thing to do is write in your voice in your style. I do listen to my reviews, though. My latest book Lost in Wonderland is getting some great ones, and those lovely readers are saying that they would have liked a longer book – they want more, so in the second one, I’m giving them more.
2)        If you do nothing, you’ll get nothing – I meet a lot of people, writers especially, who complain that they don’t get anywhere, but when you dig a little deeper, they’re not doing anything. They’re not submitting work or pitching book blogs or entering competitions, worse; they’re not even really writing! It doesn’t matter how or where you start on the road to what you want, just do something!
3)        Pay it forward – Through my life, I’ve always tried to help people. I believe in karma: If you do good things, good things will happen to you. I’m still not 100% on this working, however, but I live in hope!

Finally, please share with us where our tech savvy readers can find out more about you and your book.


Thanks for joining us today, Nicky. It was great to get to know more about you and your work.


THANKS!

Now, after you leave a comment to say "Hi" to Nicky, hop on over to her blog to read my interview.  https://nickypeacockauthor.wordpress.com/

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