November 18, 2015

Three Times A Charm with Rita Monette

Welcome to Three Times A Charm. I love to introduce readers to the people involved in childrens publishing. Today we welcome middle grade author, Rita Monette. Rita, can tell us a little about yourself?

I was born and raised in the bayous of Louisiana, and I write stories set in my home state. I retired to the mountains of Tennessee, which is above sea level. Yep, no swamps or gators! I stay busy writing and doing face and body art at local festivals. I enjoy painting, visiting waterfalls, and being entertained by the birds and other wildlife around my humble pad in the woods.

Im sure you werent sad to leave those alligators behind. Can you tell us more about your most recent release, please?

The Curse at Pirate’s Cove is the second in the Nikki Landry Swamp Legend series about a young girl growing up in a houseboat in the bayous of Louisiana in the 1950s. The stories are based on the many legends told surrounding the swamps of southern Louisiana. There’s always a mystery to solve and an adventure for Nikki Landry.

I recommend my book to readers who like: The Laura Ingalls Wilder books and/or Leaving Gees Bend by Irene Latham.

Lets get to know you a little better. Share with us your top three responses to the following questions.

         Top 3 most admired people and why you admire them.

I admire people that are intelligent, have something to say, and not afraid to say it, even if it’s controversial and shakes things up, which include the following:

Dr. Ben Carson. I love his story of his humble beginnings to becoming a top neurosurgeon. His honesty and openness.

Dr. Martin Luther King. Dr. King had something to say, he said it well, and was brave enough to say it.

Margaret Thatcher. A woman that wasn’t afraid of expressing her ideas, even though they rubbed many people the wrong way. 

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

I wanted to be a ballerina (oh well, no grace)
I wanted to be a singer (did that for awhile)
I wanted to be an artist (still do that)

         Top 3 favorite personality traits that appeal to you.

Honesty, open-mindedness, humbleness.

Okay, so where can our tech savvy readers find you and your book online?

It was lovely of you to visit Strands of Thought. Best of luck to you and The Curse at Pirate's Cove!


November 9, 2015

November #InkRipples #Giveaway

Ripples in the Inkwell is a monthly meme hosted by Mary WaibelKatie L. Carroll, and me, Kai Strand. We post on the second Monday of every month. If you would like to participate compose your own post regarding the theme of the month, include any of the images displayed on this page, and link back to our three 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 remaining in 2015:

December: Celebration /Gifts
I'm feeling really pathetic here. My #InkRipples post is supposed to go live in a few hours and I'm having a heck of a time coming up with the content for it. The worst part is that this month's topic is Remembrance/Thankfulness. Seriously - what is wrong with me?

It isn't as if I'm not thankful for anything or anyone in my life. It's not as if I'm not grateful for the myriads of things I've learned or gained from those who have come before me. I think the topic is just too big for me to figure out what to target.


And then do I choose one of those topics to hone in on? I'm thankful for so many things and a host of people-past and present-it simply isn't possible for me to narrow it down. 

So this post is being composed in the last minute. The giveaway is even generic, simply because I couldn't decide what kind of book to giveaway or the subject I most wanted to share with you. Instead, I'll leave that to you. To enter to win a $5 Amazon gift card, leave a comment and tell us what you are thankful for this year. To increase your chances of winning, share the giveaway on Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter. Just be sure to tag me and use the hashtag #InkRipples.

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Are you like me? Are you thankful for so much, you have to compose a list? Or is there one thing above all that you are beyond grateful for this year? I look forward to hearing from you. But hurry. You have through November 22nd to let us know!

After you enter the giveaway and share the link all over social media, be sure to visit Katie's post. Mary will be posting a week late this month because she has an awesome event going all week on her blog (of which I'm a guest - or rather, prisoner - on Thursday the 12th!) So please do visit her too, and participate in Realms Faire and then visit her again on the 16th for her ripple.

November 6, 2015

Cover Reveal - Under the Purple Moon by Beverly Stowe McClure

The lovely and talented Beverly Stowe McClure has a new book coming out and I'm excited to help her show off the stunning cover and share some information about the story. I'm even more excited for the book to release. I've read this book several times during its creation process and I love it.  The four main kids really find their way into your heart. Their struggles are so relateable and I love how their friendship grows when they begin to trust one another. Even when it isn't your own book, it's always so fun to have the final version in your hot little hands. But it isn't out yet. So I'm:


Under a Purple Moon
By Beverly Stowe McClure

No Love in the Garden of Eden...

Eden Rose has learned to deal with her mother’s criticism that she can do nothing right. What she can’t deal with are the arguments between her parents. To escape their angry words, she finds refuge in an old abandoned house. She always returns home, hoping her mother will love her one day, even though Eden’s not sure what the word love means.

Three other teens with problems also hang out at the Old House. Meeting Murphy, Toby, and Josh changes Eden’s world, and she begins to have faith in herself. Perhaps she can do something right, after all.

Thanks to the boys, she begins to understand the meaning of love. But will it be enough to save her broken home life?

Release date - March 15, 2016
$17.95 USA, 6x9 Trade paperback, 270 pages
Freedom Fox Press - Dancing Lemur Press, L.L.C.
Fiction/Young Adult - General (JUV000000) / Girls & Women (JUV014000)
Print ISBN 9781939844132 eBook ISBN 9781939844149
$4.99 EBook available in all formats

Most of the time, you’ll find Beverly Stowe McClure at her computer, typing stories little voices whisper in her ears. When she’s not writing, she’s snapping pictures of wildlife, flowers and clouds. She’s sometimes known as the “Bug Lady.” She’s not telling why.

November 4, 2015

#IWSG - Eep! A Book Signing

For more info & for a complete list of blogs, visit the #IWSG site
Purpose: To share and encourage. Writers can express doubts and concerns without fear of appearing foolish or weak. Those who have been through the fire can offer assistance and guidance. It’s a safe haven for insecure writers of all kinds!

The co-hosts for November are:
Denise Covey  

Please be sure to visit their sites to thank them for hosting!
Today I'm insecure about book signings!

I have an event coming up in a real live bookstore. I've done bookstore events before and I really, really enjoy them-when people show up! Those of you who've had events before know it's hard to attract guests to book signings, plus this one is taking place in a town I don't live in. Even more difficult.

However, even though I'm nervous as all get out, I'm also very excited. I really love visiting with readers and I hope I get a chance to meet some new ones. The event is at Once Upon a Storybook in Tustin, California, on November 17th. If you are in the area, I'd LOVE for you to attend. You can find more info on my Facebook Event page. Please also help me stuff the store with readers by sharing the event with anyone you know in the Orange County area.

Do you have a favorite tip you'd like to share for a successful signing that you've hosted or attended?

November 2, 2015

Another Favorite Childhood Book

Another treasured find from our recent garage purge brought a huge smile to my face. Since The Peanuts Movie releases Friday, this is a great time for me to share this book.

The Snoopy Festival by Charles M. Schulz

Snoopy was one of my all time favorite characters when I was a child. Ah, what am I saying? He still is! I even received a 3 foot tall stuffed Snoopy when I was barely taller than that (I'm guessing I got it for Christmas 1968 or 9.) I used to drag him around by his ear because he was too tall and wide around for me to pick up. There is a picture of me with him somewhere in this world, unfortunately I'm not in possession of it. My 3 foot tall Snoopy perished in a garage fire about fifteen years later. He was threadbare. His head drooped and he listed to one side because his stuffing was so compacted. But I still loved him. Happily, he lives on in my memories.

Now I can revisit my favorite character on a regular basis through the book I received from my mom for Christmas in 1974. Even more special is the dedication she penned inside the front cover. It's wonderful to see her lovely script again. So uniquely hers.

Between the covers you'll discover Snoopy, the world famous author,

Snoopy, the World War I flying ace,

Joe Cool,

and some beloved friends - such as Woodstock, who could take shorthand-did you know? Hey, is there anyone out there who can translate what Woodstock wrote below?

I'm a little nervous about The Peanuts Movie, because it doesn't often end well when they try to bring an old favorite into a modern world. But regardless of if the movie fairs well or not, I have my fantastic find to reminisce with.

What/who were your favorite childhood characters?

October 28, 2015

Author Branding - My New Logo

My first book, The Weaver, was published in December of 2010. Almost five years later I'm finally revealing my logo. What took so long? Author branding is harder than it looks.

Well maybe just for me. But I've been struggling to find a brand that would cover the variety of books I have published, while leaving room for whatever might come. Though my current works are all fiction, they span readers' ages from five to eighty-five (honestly I don't know the top age for young adult readers.) So it can't be too juvenile or too mature. My books can be categorized as speculative fiction, fantasy, contemporary, romance, and suspense. I couldn't think of anything that represented fiction beyond a book or a quill and I didn't want either of those.

One thought I kept coming back to is the emotion I try to put into my writing. Regardless of the age of the target audience I try to tap into the emotions the characters feel due to whatever their circumstances are in the book. I love emotion. I always have and I needed to use that in my brand.

Inspiration strikes at the strangest times. I'm not sure why it took me five years to think of this admittedly simple design. Maybe it's because five years ago my daughter wouldn't have been able to help me like she did. All I know is that when it finally struck me (ha ha, that's kind of a pun) I went to her and asked if she could create the image. It was embarrassingly easy for her. When I tried to draw a digital version it looked horrific. I asked her to change the bolt, the color scheme, add a feature and she did it all with ease. I'm really, really grateful. I call it the 'shot to the heart' design.

I created three different concepts of the logo. With something slightly different on each one. Then I turned to my newsletter subscribers and my street team for their votes. As with all votes I have with my readers, the winning design won by ONE vote. The funny thing is, it isn't the design that my daughter and I liked better. So your vote truly does matter. I thank each and every one of you who took the time to consider the options and cast a vote. I also got some great extra input.

At long last - five years and twelve books later - I present to you my logo:

You'll start seeing it pop up as a header on my social media pages and maybe I'll even give away some swag to my email subscribers since they were kind enough to help me choose the design.

Thanks everybody for your help in making this finally come together. I'm super happy with it and quite relieved to have something to work with. 


October 26, 2015

Climate Change and You…and Me and the Planet

I rarely step away from posting about writing—this being my author blog and all—but lately there has been a perfect storm of instances that has really made me think about our planet. Intriguing articles about fossil finds, which lead me to look up details about that period or that geographic area. Swarms of earthquakes all up and down the west coast, which spurs me to research volcanic activity through the ages. Articles on how fracking is a national security threat. All of these things make me think! It’s scary – me thinking, that is. And I can’t help myself. Sometimes I have to share my thoughts with you good people. It’s like if I ‘say it aloud’ I can get on to new, less consuming thoughts. Right now my mind won’t leave the immense power of our planet vs. the miniscule presence that is humanity.

Recently they found an enormous shark fossil in Texas. The prehistoric mega-shark swam around in a sea that covered what is now Texas and split the U.S and Canada into two separate landmasses. Imagine that sea. It was shallow as far as seas are concerned, originally created by shifting plates. It eventually retreated because of a continual uplift of sandstone and lagoons, leaving sharks like the one they recently discovered stranded on land to be fossilized, or maybe pushing their already fossilized selves up out of the water. Did you know sharks are so old, they pre-date trees? The first tree, a type that is long extinct, was part of a lush woodland that used to fill what is now the Sahara desert. Which, by the way, became an arid desert due to the monsoons shifting southward (not due to
pollution or deforestation.) I’ve also recently read that the Yellowstone super volcano has a super eruption every 600,000 to 700,000 million years (last one was 640,000 million years ago) and scientists think it has been super-erupting—eruptions that impact the world’s weather and tilt of the earth, etc—for 16 million years.

There are a lot of stories like this.

These stories, especially stories about things that happened before humans arrived on the scene, are the reason why cries to “Save the Planet” don’t resonate with me. The planet doesn’t actually care that we are here. Not anymore than it cared about the mega-shark, the dinosaurs, or that first tree. It has survived without us before, it will likely survive without us again.

What we need to do is “Save Humanity.” When we pollute the skies until we have to wear surgical masks to walk outside, we aren’t making a lasting affect on the planet that it can’t fix or adapt to on its own. We are impacting the quality of life for our fellow man. When we kill off the polar bears or create earthquakes by fracking, the world will simply continue on. Eventually it will shake us off like a dog after a bath.

I’m not disputing that we have a direct impact on our planet with our excessiveness and desire for convenience, I’m just sharing my own, admittedly novice opinion that we are like the flea biting the dog’s skin. Irritating, but nothing a good purge won’t fix. I mean—come on—16 million years of weather altering super-eruptions versus 2.5 million years of humanity. Heck, even the dinosaurs had 165 million years here before the earth abandoned them. Where’s the loyalty there? I doubt anyone out there is arrogant enough to think the planet finds us more important than the dinosaurs. However, we believe we are with our critical thinking and apposable thumbs. But do we look out for one another? No. We continually bite into the skin of the dog by building pollution-spewing factories and cutting down rain forests. Ordering brand new Halloween costumes online instead of piecing one together from the Goodwill. Buying a brand new car every few years instead of a lightly used one when we actually need it.

To the earth, humans are an irritating blip in its long, long history. We are a case of chicken pox. Maybe even only a 24 hour flu.

But not to each other. Our fellow humans—your friends, your family, your co-workers, your customers, your online acquaintances, your favorite clerk at the grocery store, the man behind the desk at the post office, the faceless person across from you and the four-way stop, the girl (now woman) you used to be best friends with in third grade who you no longer know, but who had a lasting impact on you…all the people everywhere are your entire reason for being. In some small miniscule way you are accountable to each of us for the actions you take that impact this planet. The planet doesn’t care. But I do. So does your mom.

Stop trying to save the planet and start trying to extend our time on earth. Focus on making the time we have here enjoyable. Recycle – for your children. Increase the instances you walk, bike, or use public transportation – for your best friend and neighbors. Grow your own veggies – for your family. Plant a tree for humanity. Consume less, upcycle more. Make responsible decisions and set strong examples for others. Let’s give each other a cleaner planet to live upon. Let’s be good stewards of our land and its resources and maybe it will let us stay a little longer.

October 19, 2015

My Favorite Childhood Books

We've been cleaning the garage, which means now our house is a mess. It's fun to walk down memory lane as I stumble upon pictures from when the kids were young or my middle school yearbooks. But one of the most surprising finds of all are my two favorite picture books from my childhood. Though I remember asking my mom for them (repeatedly - poor Mom) I don't remember actually taking possession of them, so I thought they were gone forever.

I'm so excited I thought I'd share them with you. They're so unique. Both are Hans Christian Andersen stories. The Little Mermaid and The Little Tin Soldier. They were published by Golden Press in 1966, meaning they'll turn 50 years old next year. The unique illustrations were done by Shiba Productions of Japan. I was completely enamored by these books when I was young and it hasn't changed.

The covers have a unique holographic 3D image. The pages of the books were thick cardboard (8 x 12 board books) Though there were some beautifully illustrated pencil sketches in both books, what intrigued me most were the pictures. The talented men of Shiba Productions crafted puppets for photo shoots for the picture books and the scenes intrigued me beyond measure. Then of course the stories. Mr. Andersen wasn't one for a happy ending and these two books were true to form, but even as a young child that didn't bother me.

The sea witch scared the bejeebies out of me!
Alas, no Prince for Ariel in this version.
My favorite of the two:

Drama and true love. You can't go wrong.
Another tragic ending, but beautiful sketches.
 What were your favorite childhood books?

October 16, 2015

The FulFillment Playlist - Character Interview

Layla’s world tumbles out of control when she discovers the truth of her parentage and realizes the Prophecy—the one she upended her entire life to defend—is incomplete. When her new friends share the entire Prophecy, the revelations contained within it alter her destiny and challenge everything she and Wil believe in. Now, she must confront the Outlander queen to save the Ethereal kingdom while grappling with this new reality.

Tortured and imprisoned, Nash accepts his fate and offers the First Ones the one thing he has left to give: his life. In a desperate attempt to save the people he loves most, he surrenders himself to the Outlander queen and a destiny darker than he could have ever dreamed possible.

Wil, tormented by the consequences of his choices, realizes he may never be able to uphold his end of the Prophecy. His mistake casts a deep, foreboding shadow over his kingdom and those he loves, while its ripples threaten to shatter both the Prophecy and everything he and his family have sworn to protect.

In this epic conclusion, lives are lost, kingdoms clash, friendships are tested, and love and fate collide.
I love to get to know book characters outside their book. Before or after I've read the book - it doesn't matter. Learning about them beforehand piques my interest more. Reading more about them after, solidifies my love of their quirkiness. To celebrate the release of The FulFillment by Erin Rhew, we are delving into the musical tastes of all three main characters, Layla, Wil, and Nash. 

I asked them to give me a sample of their playlists for the following activities:

Wil: “Master of Puppets” by Metallica
Wil struggles with the morality of his ability to control minds. When he’s working out, he can let down his public prince personae and release all the pent-up frustration he has to carry around in secret.
Nash: “You’ve Got Another Thing Coming” by Judas Priest
Nash had a volatile relationship with his father, and he always feels the need to prove something. He’d listen to angry music while he perfects his skills with the sword and battle axe.
Layla: “Love Is A Battlefield” by Pat Benatar
Since Layla is a Vanguard, someone endowed with superior strength, she views all of life through the prism of war. This song also has a great beat, so she can practice her sword fighting with flair. 

Hanging out at home:
Wil: “Marry Me” by Train
Wil is a romantic at heart, and even more so since he met Layla. He likes to chill out with a good book in the family’s library and zen out with romantic ballads.
Nash: “Centuries” by Fall Out Boy
Nash received constant rejection from his father, and because of that, he won’t let people get close to him. He leaves Layla to go to the Outlands though she begs him to stay. But at the same time, he doesn’t want anyone to forget him. When he’s alone, he contemplates his lot in life and longs to be important in a world.
Layla: “I Am The Fire” by Halestorm
As a Vanguard, Layla’s world is defined by strength, and she’s constantly questioning whether or not she has the strength for what’s to come. But she’s a fighter and a survivor, so when she’s alone, she often listens to angry or inspirational music to pump her up.

Wil: “I Won’t Give Up” by Jason Mraz
This song is the theme of the The Prophecy (Book 1). Wil feels like a greater destiny brought him together with Layla, but forces outside his control keep them apart. He wants Layla to know if she decides to choose him, he’ll wait for her.
Nash: “My Immortal” by Evanescence
This song is the theme song for The Outlanders (Book 2). In the scene (if you’ve read The Outlanders, you know what scene I mean), Nash’s devastation destroys him from the inside out. The Outlander queen knows his weakness and uses it against him.
Layla: “Wide Awake” by Katy Perry
This is the theme song for The Fulfillment. In this book, Layla’s world gets turned upside down in several ways. Everything she knew to be true is now false, and the life she’d envisioned for herself disappears. When the dust settles, she may just be all alone.

Buy Links

About the Author

Erin Rhew is an editor, a running coach, and the author of The Fulfillment Series. Since she picked up Morris the Moose Goes to School at age four, she has been infatuated with the written word. She went on to work as a grammar and writing tutor in college and is still teased by her family and friends for being a member of the "Grammar Police."

A Southern girl by blood and birth, Erin now lives in a rainy pocket of the Pacific Northwest with the amazingly talented (and totally handsome) writer Deek Rhew and their “overly fluffy,” patient-as-a-saint writing assistant, a tabby cat named Trinity. She and Deek enjoy reading aloud to one another, running, lifting, boxing, eating chocolate, and writing side-by-side.  

Find her online:
Twitter: @ErinRhewBooks

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October 12, 2015

October #InkRipples #Giveaway – Things That Go Bump in the Night

I remember reading Amityville Horror. I think I was about 12 years old and I was home alone a lot. I’d get so wrapped up in the book I wouldn’t notice the sun had set until I look up and found myself completely surrounded by black picture windows. I was terrified that the red pig eyes would appear, so I’d close my eyes and feel my way around the room to draw all the curtains closed – not opening my eyes until I was sure I wouldn’t see any black window surfaces.

It’s hard to scare me like that anymore. I think life experiences jade us enough that we are less prone to fears fueled by imagination, but I still get butterflies if I have to go out into the dark garage alone at night, or if I hear an unexplained noise scratch up against the house. *Shiver*

What scares you? Makes your heart pound so that it’s hard to hear? Freezes you in place?

To celebrate Halloween, I’m giving away two books again this month. YAY! First the winner will receive a copy of Ghost Touch by the super awesome author, LA Dragoni. (Okay, she might be me.) The winner will have his or her choice of an electronic copy - any version - or a dowload code good for one audiobook copy from Audible.

Ghost Touch by LA Dragoni
For fifteen minutes each night a portal opens in Tamar’s barn and a horde of ghosts spills into her yard. She and Dex work together to find a way to help Cal and the thousands of spirits stuck in the void to cross over. When she learns she has the ghost touch—the ability to touch the ghosts as if they were corporeal—and she accidentally helps a little boy cross, she believes it might be possible. But not all the spirits play nice and when they learn they can sip energy from her ghost touch, they become greedy putting her life at risk.

Each time Cal has to pull her from the mass of ghosts, her touch restores him more and more until he is at danger of being stuck on earth—forever, which is very enticing to Tamara the better she knows him. Will she and Dex figure out how to help the spirits cross and if they do, will she be able to let Cal go?

Available from Amazon

And because I like to support other books and authors, the winner will also receive a Kindle copy of one of the following books that I’ve read and enjoyed and find creepy enough for the season:

A mysterious island.
An abandoned orphanage.
A strange collection of very curious photographs.
It all waits to be discovered in Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children, an unforgettable novel that mixes fiction and photography in a thrilling reading experience. As our story opens, a horrific family tragedy sets sixteen-year-old Jacob journeying to a remote island off the coast of Wales, where he discovers the crumbling ruins of Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children. As Jacob explores its abandoned bedrooms and hallways, it becomes clear that the children were more than just peculiar. They may have been dangerous. They may have been quarantined on a deserted island for good reason. And somehow—impossible though it seems—they may still be alive. A spine-tingling fantasy illustrated with haunting vintage photography, Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children will delight adults, teens, and anyone who relishes an adventure in the shadows.
Anna Dressed in Blood by Kendare Blake
Cas Lowood has inherited an unusual vocation: He kills the dead.
So did his father before him, until he was gruesomely murdered by a ghost he sought to kill. Now, armed with his father's mysterious and deadly athame, Cas travels the country with his kitchen-witch mother and their spirit-sniffing cat. Together they follow legends and local lore, trying to keep up with the murderous dead--keeping pesky things like the future and friends at bay.
When they arrive in a new town in search of a ghost the locals call Anna Dressed in Blood, Cas doesn't expect anything outside of the ordinary: track, hunt, kill. What he finds instead is a girl entangled in curses and rage, a ghost like he's never faced before. She still wears the dress she wore on the day of her brutal murder in 1958: once white, now stained red and dripping with blood. Since her death, Anna has killed any and every person who has dared to step into the deserted Victorian she used to call home.
But she, for whatever reason, spares Cas's life.
The Replacement by Brenna Yovanoff
Mackie Doyle is The Replacement - left in the crib of a human baby sixteen years ago. He has been raised among us. But he is not one of us. Now, he must face the dark creatures of the slag heaps from which he came and find his rightful place - in our world or theirs.

As usual, there are super easy ways to enter; pin, add to Goodreads or Tweet right from the rafflecopter:
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And now that you've entered, visit the other ink ripples.
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.