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March 2, 2015

New Release! The Legacy Human by Susan Kaye Quinn

I'm happy to be helping Susan Kaye Quinn release her new Singularity series. No one does sci-fi like Susan! Pick up her new book at the introductory price and help her spread the word!

New Release: The Legacy Human (Singularity #1) by Susan Kaye Quinn #YA #SF
ebook and print
When transcending humanity is the prize, winning the Game is all that matters.
Seventeen-year-old Elijah Brighton wants to become an ascender—a post-Singularity human/machine hybrid—after all, they’re smarter, more enlightened, more compassionate, and above all, achingly beautiful. But Eli is a legacy human, preserved and cherished for his unaltered genetic code, just like the rainforest he paints. When a fugue state possesses him and creates great art, Eli miraculously lands a sponsor for the creative Olympics. If he could just master the fugue, he could take the gold and win the right to ascend, bringing everything he’s yearned for within reach… including his beautiful ascender patron. But once Eli arrives at the Games, he finds the ascenders are playing games of their own. Everything he knows about the ascenders and the legacies they keep starts to unravel… until he’s running for his life and wondering who he truly is.
The Legacy Human is the first in Susan Kaye Quinn’s new young adult science fiction series that explores the intersection of mind, body, and soul in a post-Singularity world… and how technology will challenge us to remember what it means to be human.

“If I were a movie producer, I would option this in a heartbeat.”
“This story is so intense I felt I couldn’t get a proper breath.”
“Science fiction with philosophical depth.”

Win paperbacks of The Legacy Human and Mindjack Trilogy, as well as other great prizes, and chat with some AMAZING Sci-Fi author-friends (check out the line-up below!). Giveaways run ALL DAY (9a – 9p Chicago Time, GMT-6)

SCHEDULE - Chicago Time (GMT-6) on March 2nd
9a - 10a - Sue (Singularity)
1p - 2p - Jennifer Wells (Fluency)
2p - 2:30p - Endi Webb? (Terran Gambit)
3p - 4p - Rysa Walker (Timebound)
5p - 5:30p - Wes Davies? (Binary Cycle)
5:30 - 7p - Sue (Singularity)
7p - 8p - E.E. Giorgi? (Chimeras)
8p - 9p - Jessica Keller? (Saving Yesterday)
Stop by ANYTIME to enter giveaways;  stop by during the guest-host hour to chat! (Join the party now!)

February 27, 2015

Building Character with Nick Cassidy from I Live In A Doghouse

Hi everyone! Welcome to Building Character. I’d like to introduce you to Nick, the main character in I LIVE IN A DOGHOUSE by Beverly Stowe McClure. Nick, can you tell us a little about you, please?

Hey, I’m Nick Cassidy, eleven-years-old. I used to live with my mom, just the two of us and we got along fine. Then she married Jake, and I now have a stepsister that loves to call me gross names and a half-sister that likes for me to take her for walks in the stroller, and my life will never be the same.

What’s the biggest problem you’re facing?

I’m living with a ten-year-old stepsister that hates me and an eighteen-month-old half-sister that loves me. Figure that one out.

Family dynamics can be tough when you’ve grown up within them, but even tougher when you’re not used to them. Have you learned anything from this situation?

One thing I’ve learned is that people are not always who we think they are and sometimes they’re a lot different than we remember them.

Hopefully you get some sort of break from your new home life. What about a best friend? Tell us about him.

Gus Oliver and I have been friends like forever. He has a cool sense of humor and is really smarter than people think he is. Best of all, he loves skateboarding as much as I do.

What are some of your favorite activities?

Skateboarding, racing cars (when I’m older), talking to my dog Accident

Nothing like a loyal dog, huh? If you could change one thing in this world, what would you change?

Parents would have to be honest with their kids.

What words of wisdom would you like to share with our readers?

Never let a toddler out of you sight. They can disappear fast.

Very scary lesson to learn the hard way! Thanks for joining us today, Nick. Readers, here is more about his story, I LIVE IN A DOGHOUSE:

Eleven-year-old Nick Cassidy's stepsister delights in calling him gross names. His half-sister loves for Nick to push her in the stroller, to his embarrassment. What if the guys from school see him? All Nick wants is his father to come back and take him away from this crazy family. Is it any wonder he sometimes lives in the doghouse?

I LIVE IN A DOGHOUSE is the story of a boy's struggles to accept his new family while he longs for the old. When his father finally returns, will Nick's dreams come true? Or will he discover that memories sometimes are faulty, and it’s best to forget the past and treasure the present?

Available at:
Barnes and Noble:

And here is the 411 on Nick’s author, Beverly Stowe McClure:

Most of the time, you’ll find Beverly in front of her computer, writing the stories little voices whisper in her ear. Other times you’ll find her on long walks, snapping photos of wildlife and flowers. To some of her friends, she is affectionately known as the “Bug Lady” because she rescues butterflies, moths, walking sticks, and praying mantis from her cats.
For twenty-two years, Beverly taught children in grades two through five how to read and write. They taught her patience. Now, she teaches a women’s Sunday school class at her church. To relax she plays the piano. Her cats don’t appreciate good music, and run and hide when she tickles the ivories.
            Beverly has several articles published in children’s magazines. Two of her stories have appeared in Chicken Soup for the Soul Anthologies. She also has twelve books published for children and teens and is the Gold Winner in the 2012 Children’s Literary Classics, and also the Silver Winner in the 2013 CLC, as well as other awards.  

After you leave a nice note for Nick and Beverly, hop over to read my review of I LIVE IN A DOGHOUSE.

February 25, 2015

Three Times A Charm with Stephanie Scott

Welcome to Three Times A Charm. I love to introduce readers to people involved in children’s publishing. Today we have Stephanie Scott with us. She’s here to spread the news about a great contest. First, Stephanie, please share a little about yourself.

I’m a pre-published author (don’t you love the positivity of that term?) with a few Young Adult Contemporary manuscripts under my belt. My agent Sarah LaPolla at Bradford Literary is working hard to find those manuscripts a home.

Improving my writing craft is always high on my list. As is networking with writers on blogs and social media. One of my main sources of industry connections is through Romance Writers of America, a group I never imagined I would be a part of even just a few years ago. I attended a regional chapter’s conference, and a light bulb went off when I realized the driving factor of the manuscript I was writing was the romance. That realization actually helped me finish the book! Now I’m an active member of the Windy City chapter and the online Young Adult chapter, YARWA.

I do love the positivity of pre-published author! I need to check into YARWA. Now what’s this I hear about a contest?

In addition to hosting inexpensive online courses almost monthly, YARWA is hosting our annual contest beginning in March. Writers of Young Adult and New Adult of any subgenre (regardless of romance) can submit their unpublished partial manuscript for judging and potential consideration from our final round judges, which include a literary agent and two editors for each category. Though contests are hugely subjective, they’ve been a great experience for me to get my work in front of industry pros, and to receive feedback.

For more information on YARWA’s Rosemary contest, go to:
For our online programs:

There you go, YA romance writers. Polish up those manuscripts and take a chance! Okay, Stephanie, now it’s time for The 3’s. Give us the top three answers to the following questions to help us know you better.

  • Top 3 books you recommend reading and why you recommend them.
    • Brown Girl Dreaming by Jacqueline Woodson: A beautiful book deserving of all its accolades
    • Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell: heartbreakingly earnest, sweet, and deeply emotional. I am completely unlike Cath, and related to her so easily.
    • Beauty Queens by Libba Bray. This is my favorite YA book. A plane full of beauty queens crash land on a deserted island and save themselves and each other. It’s wickedly funny, feminist, with sharp, on-point satire. 
  • Top 3 tools of the trade you couldn’t live without. 
1.      Scrivener: the learning curve is a little steep, but I absolutely love how easy it is to move scenes around, to make notes, to pull up scenes side-by-side, and to save additional content within the project.
2.      Wikipedia: I donate to them yearly. I can’t even imagine being a writer without their seemingly-infinite library to give me direction.
3.      The Emotion Thesaurus by Angela Ackermna and Becca Puglisi. Such a valuable resource.

  • Top 3 personal mantras or inspirational phrases.
    • Bad decisions make good stories
    • Life is too short to wear ugly shoes
    • Finish the book  
Where can our tech savvy readers find you?

YARWA Website:

Thanks for joining us on this week’s Three Times A Charm, Stephanie, and for sharing the contest news with us. Best of luck to you and your writing. It’s a matter of time J

GUESTS WELCOME!  I’m always looking for guests for Three Times A Charm. If you are an author, illustrator or book reviewer, an agent or an editor. If you have something related to children’s publishing that you’d like people to know about, feel free to contact me about a future appearance.

February 23, 2015

Abandon Ship! When You Just Can't Continue a Book

I recently had to abandon a book, but I gave it a good solid effort. I wouldn't normally talk about why I didn't like a book, but I don't think I have to worry about ruining Leo Tolstoy's reputation by sharing my humble opinions on why Anna Karenina didn't work for me.

First because the book is a classic, I was conditioned to think I'd like it. That I had to like it or they'd revoke my avid reader card or something. Because it's a classic, I downloaded the audiobook. I do so much better with stories from the likes of Jane Austen, William Shakespeare--heck--even the bible, if a good reader presents it to me instead of making my mind wrap around the old-fashioned use of language. Tolstoy has a bazillion Russian names in his stories, so I'm really glad I chose the audio version.

My husband and I started listening to it on a car trip. He has listened to War and Peace previously, so I'm super impressed he didn't insist I choose a different book. He's amazingly patient like that. (heart squish) Anyway, seven travel hours later, we were home and I still felt like the story had yet to begin. Up to that point it seemed we'd only been in one very long character introduction. Characters, rather. He has a lot of them in his books, doesn't he? If memory serves, we didn't even meet Anna until we were (maybe) three hours into the book.

While sitting idle in the car, I was content to give the book a chance, but back home I had to make a choice. After seven hours of nothing really exciting, interesting, or compelling happening, should I continue? Here is where the reputation of being a classic comes into play. I couldn't give up on it knowing it had entertained countless readers for more than a century and had been declared by some to be the 'best novel ever written.'

So, I continued listening while cooking, walking, running errands, eating lunch, etc. Finally Anna announces she is pregnant and I think, "Okay, now we've got a story." But more than an hour of listening later we still hadn't come back to Anna and it was getting rather irksome to listen to the drivel surrounding the spoiled, immature Kitty. I kept looking at the audiobook files, something I never do. When I'd make it through one (each being more than an hour long) I'd delete it off my phone. It was like I hoped to prove to myself that I truly was making progress in the book, since the story wasn't doing that for me. Finally, more than TEN hours into the book, and only a third of the way through it, I gave up.

Even taking into account things such as cultural differences, what writing styles were in the 1870's, the fact that no one had television to entertain themselves so books could be long winded, that the book was originally serialized, I simply couldn't get myself into a place where the lack of forward movement in the story was okay.

Interestingly, at some point in that ten listening hours, I started reading Gears of Brass, a steampunk anthology. And I have to say, the mood in both books are so similar that my mind expected steampunk aspects to pop up when listening to Anna - so good on ya, Gears of Brass authors for nailing that era on the nose! And for the record, I've never once been bored while reading Gears of Brass. That one I have not abandoned, I just read short story anthologies slowly for some reason.

A cabin I have visited in the middle of
'Nowhere,' WY. I hope to return one day
In conclusion, I imagine that one day I'll be on vacation sitting on the porch of some cabin in the middle of nowhere with all the time in the world to listen to Leo Tolstoy's Anna Karenina. However, Tolstoy doesn't fit well into my current lifestyle of having to cobble bits and pieces of a book into my day. There is nothing to make me want to return to the book and find out what happens next. There is just more posing from the social elite. I can watch the evening news for that.

Have you read Anna? Do you disagree with my opinion? I'd love to hear what worked for you! Is there a classic you've abandoned?

February 20, 2015

Marketing Your Book - Guest Post by Krysten Lindsay Hager

I’m excited that Kai asked me to talk about my experiences marketing as a debut novelist. My first novel, True Colors, about an eighth grader dealing with frenemies, self-esteem issues, cliques, and being yourself, came out this summer and it was an amazing time. I feel like I haven’t sat down to relax since I signed the contract for the book over a year ago! It’s been an amazing journey and I’m so thrilled that soon the sequel to the book, (titled Best Friends…Forever? )will come out as part of the Landry’s True Colors series. So I’m here today to share what I’ve learned along the way on my path to publication.

 First, I want to share how important it is to prepare and learn the business. I began going to writing conferences and workshops right after I graduated from high school. It was a great way to learn about the business side of writing. I remember those first couple writing conferences where I was sitting there confused and clueless. I’ll never forget being in an auditorium when a speaker used the term, “query,” and I looked around the room at all these nodding faces and I thought, “What’s that?” It was then I realized I had a lot to learn! And soon I learned networking at conferences and workshops is a big part of marketing because you begin to get your work out in front of people and get noticed.

One of the things that helped me a lot was that I was a journalist and had publication credits that way and then I began to publish fiction as well as humor essays and columns. Doing that helped let people see what I wrote and helped me to begin to build an audience. It’s so important to begin to build an audience before your book comes out, so submitting to publications and blogs, etc. is essential. I’ve heard people say they don’t feel clips are important to try to get published, but they forget that it’s a crucial step in gaining attention. Getting published also prepares you for public feedback from strangers as well as critiques and criticism which gets you ready for reading those book reviews.

I’ve had several author friends complain their other friends haven’t bought their books. People are more apt to pick up your work if they’ve had a taste of what you can do first. It helps to share things you’ve published elsewhere on your social media sites. It can be as simple as posting a few of your links on your website to give a sample of your work. It doesn’t matter if some of your previously published clips are old, you can still post them on your website (or post the links), so people can check them out. You can also do guest posts or blog hops to show people an example of your writing as well. If you have networked and met other authors, then you can do a blog hop with someone and that will help you get your name out there as well. The most important thing is to present other work before your book comes out so people are ready to see more of what you can do.

About the book: 

Landry Albright just wants to be one of the interesting girls at school who always have exciting things going on in their lives. She wants to stand out, but also wants to fit in, so she gives in when her two best friends, Ericka and Tori, push her into trying out for a teen reality show modeling competition with them. Landry goes in nervous, but impresses the judges enough to make it to the next round. However, Ericka and Tori get cut and basically "unfriend" her on Monday at school. Landry tries to make new friends, but gets caught up between wanting to be herself and conforming to who her new friends want her to be. Along the way she learns that modeling is nowhere as glamorous as it seems, how to deal with frenemies, a new crush, and that true friends see you for who you really are and like you because of it.

Buy it:

Connect with Krysten:

The sequel to True Colors, is called, Best Friends…Forever? (Landry’s True Colors series Book 2) and will be out on March 24th.

Good friends have your back, but some go behind it.

                Landry Albright hopes the new year will start off in an amazing way—instead she has to deal with more frenemy issues, boy drama, and having most of her best friends make the cheerleading squad without her. Suddenly, it seems like all anyone can talk about is starting high school next year—something she finds terrifying.
                Landry gets her first boyfriend, but then gets dumped just as things come to a head with her friends. She feels lost and left out, but finds good advice from what she considers an unlikely source. Landry learns to speak up for what’s right, tell the truth (even when it hurts), and how to get past the fear of failure as she gets another shot at competing in the American IngĂ©nue modeling competition.

About the author: 

Krysten Lindsay Hager is an author and book addict who has never met a bookstore she didn’t like. She’s worked as a journalist and also writes middle grade, YA, humor essays, and adult fiction. TRUE COLORS is her international bestselling debut novel from Astraea Press and the first book in the Landry’s True Colors series. She is originally from Michigan and has lived in South Dakota, Portugal, and currently resides in Southern Ohio where you can find her reading and writing when she’s not catching up on her favorite TV shows. She received her master’s in American Culture from the University of Michigan-Flint.

February 18, 2015

Three Times A Charm with Alyson Larrabee

Welcome to Three Times A Charm. I love to introduce readers to people involved in children’s publishing. Today we have my fellow Whiskey Creek Press author, Alyson Larrabee with us. Alyson, please share a little about yourself.

Boring facts:
I’m a graduate of Emerson College and Bridgewater State University, a middle school English teacher at Easton Middle School, the wife of a New England Patriots obessessed golfer, the mother of three young adults and one redbone coonhound.

Fun facts:
I’m a resident of the Bridgewater Triangle (It’s kind of like the Bermuda Triangle, but smaller and colder in the winter.), an  amateur ghost hunter, a YA novelist with a dark side and a dog lover, especially droopy-faced hounddogs. Obsessed with: the legends and science of the Hockomock Swamp, stories about haunted New England and books (reading them and writing them).  I also love parentheses. Do only English teachers have favorite punctuation marks or are there other weirdos out there, too?

I’m punctuation challenged, so I’m not qualified to answer that question. Maybe our readers can weigh in on it. Can we hear more about your books?

Whiskey Creek Press
I’m the author of two published books: Enter If You Dare and its sequel, Her Evil Ways, both ghost stories, both starring the ghosthunting team of Annabelle Blake and Wyatt Silver.

In the first book, Enter If You Dare, Annabelle’s involved in a strange and dangerous love triangle. Two boys fall in love with her. And they share the same body. Wyatt Silver’s a medium who contacts the ghost of the legendary Lonesome Boy. When this powerful and vengeful spirit takes possession of Wyatt’s body, their terrifying adventure begins. Read it if you dare.

Whiskey Creek Press
In the second book of the series, Her Evil Ways, Annabelle’s jealous rival experiments with a Ouija board and sets free the evil ghost of a hateful woman. During a raging blizzard, the demonic spirit tries to lure Annabelle to her death.

I recommend my book to readers who like:

The Marked Series by P.C. Cast and Kristen Cast
The Body Finder Series by Kimberly Derting
The Diviners by Libba Bray

Those sound great! I love a good ghost story. Now it’s time for the threes. Give us your top three answers to the following:

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

Top book, Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen, because I’m a romantic at heart. And I love the way Fitzwilliam Darcy falls in love with Elizabeth Bennet. His first impression of her is negative, but after he observes her actions and listens to her conversation over a period of time, he falls crazily, obsessively in love with her And he admires her because she has “improved her mind through excessive reading”.
Next: The Silence of the Lambs by Thomas Harris because I love interesting antiheroes. How did Thomas Harris make a cannibalistic serial killer seem sexy? That’s magical writing talent! I so admire him for it. Also, I love a brave heroine and Clarice Starling is the bravest.
Third: The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain. Madly, crazily, obsessively in love with Huck. His sense of humor, his emotional honesty and the way he values Freedom over everything else. He’s afraid of changing but he changes anyway because of his experiences and his deep, original thought process. The Civil War fascinates me, too. The ghosts in my second book Her Evil Ways are Civil War era ghosts.

  • Top 3 favorite ways to interact with readers.

Book clubs: Everyone has read the book and they ask such great questions.
Book signings: Everyone wants to read the book and they ask such great questions.
Instagram: Love my fangirls and fanguys

  • Top 3 personal mantras or inspirational phrases.

“In the depth of winter I finally learned that there was in me an invincible summer.” Albert Camus

“Chasing ghosts will answer the questions that damn you.” The X-Files

“We have to make split-second decisions sometimes and as long as they’re made with good intentions, we can’t blame ourselves for the outcome. Sometimes you’re trying to be a hero and circumstances make it impossible. Sometimes you try to help when someone needs you and everything goes tragically wrong.” Nathaniel Flyte from Enter If You Dare by Alyson Larrabee
 Okay, Alyson, where can our readers find you online?

Instagram and Twitter: alysonlarrabee
Facebook: Alyson Larrabee Author

Thank you, Alyson, for joining us on this week’s Three Times A Charm. Best of luck to you and your books.

GUESTS WELCOME!  I’m always looking for guests for Three Times A Charm. If you are an author, illustrator or book reviewer, an agent or an editor. If you have something related to children’s publishing that you’d like people to know about, feel free to contact me about a future appearance.THANKS!

February 17, 2015

Cover Reveal for Super Bad, Super Villain Academy Bk 3

Watch out. Things are about to get really bad

Excerpt from Super Bad:

After sliding the card out of the envelope, she stared at it for so long Lexa finally said, “Well?”
Sandra glanced at her friend before frowning again at the card. Finally she handed it to Lexa and stared at the flowers.

Seeing you last night was as refreshing as the clean smell after a rainstorm.

Lexi’s lip curled up. “What does this mean?”
“I’m not sure.” Sandra spoke tentatively. “He obviously has a thing for weather.”
“And you,” Lexa said.
Lexa rolled her eyes. “What do you mean, maybe? He became a stalker at the party last night, and now he’s sent you your very first flowers.”
Sandra shook her head. “There’s something…I don’t know.”
A thought somewhere deep in her gray matter teased her, but kept getting overridden by images of Set’s beautiful face lowering toward hers in the dark of the hedge cave. She mentally scolded herself to focus, but then she remembered the feel of his power pulsing from him and making her skin thrum when he came within a few inches of her, and her concentration scattered.
She shook her head not wanting to relive those memories. “I don’t know. I don’t really think it’s me he wants.”
Lexa smelled an oversized rose unfurled in full bloom in the middle of a bouquet that somehow looked like a summer storm stuffed into a vase—all whites and lavenders, purples and deep blues. “It sure looks like he’s focused on you, Sand.”

SUPER BAD The unexpected conclusion to the Super Villain Academy series.

The world is in chaos. Violence and thievery reign. And with the supers still balanced, it’s only getting worse. Without good versus evil, the supers care less and less. In order to restore purpose, the world needs its super heroes and its super villains, but the one who balanced them in the first place is missing.

Sandra’s concern over finding her brother, Jeff, isn’t her only problem. Her pathetic excuse for super powers has left her needing a new ankle. And though she’s still very much committed to her boyfriend, Source, she’s growing unreasonably attracted to Set, the boy who double crossed Jeff by stealing his girlfriend.

When Sandra is taken and held as bait by kids who want to unbalance the super world, it becomes the inciting event that changes things for supers everywhere and forces them to answer the question, “Hero or villain?”
Super Bad is scheduled for release in June, but there have been whispers of it releasing sooner. Don’t miss out. Subscribe to my mailing list and be among the first to know.
King of Bad - Jeff Mean would rather set fires than follow rules. He wears his bad boy image like a favorite old hoodie; until he learns he has superpowers and is recruited by Super Villain Academy – where you learn to be good at being bad. Is Jeff bad enough for SVA?

Polar Opposites - Heroes and villains are balanced. After Oceanus is kidnapped, Jeff learns the supers are so balanced, they no longer care to get involved. Ironically Jeff’s superpowers are spiraling out of control. Will they find Oci before he looses it completely, and will they find her alive?
Win a $10 Amazon gift card or an ecopy of either King of Bad or Polar Opposites. Plenty of chances to win. Open internationally. Enter here:
a Rafflecopter giveaway

A special thank you to all the amazing bloggers helping me share the cover and the giveaway.

February 16, 2015

My Very Humble Advice to Fellow Authors About Reviews

One of the most difficult aspects of being a published author is the public feedback on your work. After toiling over a story for however long, sharing with critique partners, integrating editor suggestions, combing, combing, combing…Obviously, you’ve left little fleshy pieces of your heart scattered throughout your work.

Then it goes out into the world. You hit up family and friends and solicit bloggers for honest reviews. The ball starts rolling. Reviews start coming in from all over. So many are good. Three people said, “great writing.” A couple people give props to your favorite character, the best friend. And then…oh…wait… “It’s like Hunger Games, which I’ve never read, but more complicated and lame” What the…?! Did you even read the book?

But here’s the thing. No book will EVER be the same experience for every reader. There are about a bazillion factors behind why two readers interpret a book differently.

Picture credit
Let’s say you read a review that says,

“Things were okay until the ‘insta-love.’ That ruined it for me.”

You might feel the need to explain to the reviewer that it wasn’t insta-love it was a grieving person reaching out for comfort in an inappropriate way. Or maybe a reviewer says,

“Overall the story was good, but there was swearing and underage drinking.”

And you growl at your computer, “It happens in real life – deal!” How about,

“Nobody talks like that.”

And you want to say, “Especially the girl-in-real-life I based the character on!”

See, the thing is, reviewers come at your book with their entire lifetime worth of experiences in tow. You might have grown up in a big city where teenagers swore, talked openly about sex and drugs, and maybe the reviewer grew up on a dairy farm and simply wasn’t exposed to that. It isn’t wrong they don’t like swearing. It isn’t wrong they don’t like characters swearing.

Maybe a reviewer agreed to review your book before the hose to the washer broke and flooded their basement and the family pet died. Suddenly your industrious heroine just exhausts them and they can’t even begin to believe anyone would ever fight that long and that hard to save the world. It’s okay for them to think that and it’s okay for them to mention it.


The point remains that no two readers read the same book – or the same review. Though one reviewer points out insta-love where it doesn’t belong, or grumbles about Einstein language, there are readers whose interest will be piqued by that review. If someone says, “Over the top drama,” “immature characters,” “Nobody in the world would EVER act like that!” There are readers who will simply dismiss that information and focus on what the reviewer did like about the book. Or, dismiss the review altogether, because the reviewers ‘voice’ doesn’t sound like anything the reader would agree with.

Just like there are readers who decide to read the book based on the “Couldn’t put this book down!” comments, some will also decide to read the book because of what you consider negative feedback.  Maybe they want to confirm the supposed idiocy, prove it wrong or they just simply aren’t bothered by it.

So, get over it. As long as the review doesn’t attack you personally—stop taking the feedback personally. Be grateful for the reviewers who clearly understood what you wanted them to from the book. And do not—I repeat DO NOT—engage with the reviews that mention seemingly random or really mean things. They still gave their own personal time to YOUR book. Chances are other readers will recognize when a reviewers opinion is in the minority.

February 13, 2015

Building Character with Valerie from 52 LIKES

Yay – it’s Friday and this week we have a Building Character interview. Let me introduce you to Valerie from 52 LIKES by Medeia Sharif. Welcome to Strands of Thoughts, Valerie. Can you tell us a little about you, please?

I’m Valerie, a high school junior, and I live in Miami.

I’ve heard good things about Miami. Especially the weather. But I doubt your book is about all the nice weather in Florida. What kind of conflict are you up against in 52 LIKES?

Something bad happened to me last week. I went to a party, but ended up in the wrong house. I just can’t talk about the rest. Only my best friend, my mom, and the counselor I met that night know about the incident. Oh, and also the police since I reported it.

Oh, jeez, the police? Sounds scary. What are some of the biggest stumbling blocks you’ve encountered trying to resolve whatever it was that happened?

People are somehow onto my secret and are spreading nasty rumors about it. Also, I’m getting bizarre messages on my phone from strangers hinting at what happened to me. It’s freaking me out.

I’m sorry to hear that. Is there a bright spot to this at all? Have you learned anything about yourself because of all this?

I learned that it’s okay to be afraid and that I can face my fears. And I’m not alone in all this.

Wow, that’s really profound – saying that it’s okay to be afraid. And I’m super glad to hear you aren’t facing this alone. Who is by your side?

Her name is Cookie, she’s had a tough life, and I can count on her for anything.

Let’s lighten the mood a bit. What’s your strongest personality trait?

I have a big mouth that I’ll use to defend myself, although I get into trouble for that.

Is there anything about you that people are always giving you a hard time about? How do you feel about it?

People were brutal to me because they have twisted ideas about some stupid things I did last year, so they think the worst of me. It was because some pictures of me were circulated by accident. Also, they made fun of my appearance. I don’t want to get into all of that, though. That was last year, and this year I’m facing way bigger problems.

Wow, Valerie, it sounds like pretty serious stuff. I hope it all works out well. Thanks for joining us.

Readers, here is more about Valerie’s book, 52 LIKES.

After a brutal rape and near-murder, Valerie wants to get past feelings of victimhood from both the assault and her history of being bullied. Not knowing the identity of her masked rapist and dealing with the nasty rumors about that night are two things that plague her daily.

Valerie will have to follow ghostly entities, past victims of the rapist-murderer, contacting her through a social media site. Why do all of their eerie photos have 52 likes under them? Their messages are leading her to the mystery man, although he’ll put up a fight to remain hidden.

And here is some info on Valerie’s author:

Medeia Sharif was born in New York City and presently calls Miami her home. She received her master's degree in psychology from Florida Atlantic University. Published through various presses, she writes middle grade and young adult short stories and novels. In addition to being a writer, she's a public school teacher.

February 11, 2015

Three Times A Charm with Jemima Pett

Welcome to Three Times A Charm. I love to introduce readers to people involved in children’s publishing. Today we have Jemima Pett with us. Jemima, can you share a little about yourself, please?

Once upon a time, I wrote a story, carefully made into a booklet about two inches high by one across, entitled “The Little Stream”.  Many years later I found it in the box in which my mother kept her most precious possessions. I realised I’d always been writing, but had never had a strong plot or set of characters, until my guinea pigs came along.  Fred, George, Victor and Hugo had personalities and stories that needed to be told.

I’d got my degrees in science, but had come out of college wanting to change the world, and I did a lot of voluntary jobs, some in strange places, before I got a job with the civil service.  That didn’t last long!  I worked in office jobs, writing newsletters and event reports in the evenings, I travelled round the country and wondered what it would be like to live in different places; I day-dreamed of exciting adventures and read books like they were going out of fashion – but mostly scifi and adventures, literary fiction is not me at all!  So when I got my characters and they wanted to be in an adventure I started writing my own tales, and my friends enjoyed them.  Usual story – they said, “Why don’t you get them published?”  So I did.

What a great story. Can we hear more about your children’s books?

The Princelings of the East (with the Princelings and the Pirates and the Princelings and the Lost City) is a trilogy telling the adventures of our heroes George and Fred.  Two innocents with a problem, they leave the security of their isolated castle and venture out into a world of castles, tunnels, pirates and lost cities.  They meet princes, innkeepers and travellers, become embroiled in shady business dealings, shipwrecks and totalitarian societies.  Despite being guinea pigs (cavies) they live much like you or I would like to, and have much more fun!  These are stories for capable readers of all ages; probably ten years and up will get most from them.

But it doesn’t stop there!  The trilogy turned into a series allowing other characters to get their own books, before the series winds up back with George and Fred achieving their ultimate goal – we hope!

Hugo tells his side of the story, in the Traveler in Black and White since he was cast as the villain in book 1 – and takes us to the darker side of the Princelings world (I’d give the later books a PG rating).  Humphrey escapes from the Lost City and finds a castle that welcomes his talents, and gives him a home and friends, something he never thought would happen (The Talent Seekers).  Victor grows up and has his adventures in foreign parts, tangled up with big business deals and characters who are not what they seem (Bravo Victor).  And Willoughby the Narrator… well, he’s just got started on his story!

I recommend my book to readers who like: Inkheart (Cornelia Funke), His Dark Materials (Philip Pullman), or if you’re older, the Pern stories by Anne McCaffrey

Okay, Jemima, now it’s time for the threes. Give us your top three answers to the following:

  • Top 3 books you recommend reading and why you recommend them.
    • The Ninja Librarian by Rebecca M Douglass.  I love the off-beat way this dysfunctional town in the middle of nowhere starts to come together when a new librarian arrives.  It’s genius, as is the sequel, and I’m looking forward to more.
    • Skallagrigg by William Horwood.  I’ve discovered that not only is this out of print, but it was never published in the US.  I’m on a campaign to get it republished (If you want to tweet @penguinUKbooks that would be great, thank you).  It’s a combination of fable and social history, comparing the treatment of people with cerebral palsy at opposite ends of the 20th century. It’s delightful, horrifying, thought-provoking and heartwarming.
    • The Silver Pigs by Lindsey Davis – for older kids but mainly for adults; it’s the first in the Falco series – and he’s a private eye in ancient Rome, basically. Kojak meets Gladiator, or something.  Something much better, probably!

  • Top 3 things you learned about the business after becoming a writer.
    • Arts graduates seem to think scientists can’t write fiction because we haven’t had time to read all those heavy books like Ulysses and Virginia Woolf.  Fortunately, scientists don’t see the evidence for lack of fiction-writing ability and just get on with it.
    • Every self-published writer has to learn not only to blog, but cope with upgrades, hackers and spam attacks.  Good luck.
    • Every writer, whoever they’re published by, has to do the majority of their own marketing.  Some just have a (bigger) budget.

  • Top 3 most admired people and why you admire them (in no particular order).
    • Roger Federer.  The tennis champ, in case you’re not a sports person.  He not only looks great on court, but he has great tips about success.  Focus, practice, and not fretting over the bad shot you just made, but looking to make the next one great, come to mind.
    • J K Rowling.  For all sorts of reasons involving how to cope with sudden fame and success, how to be nice to people, and how to stay sane.  And for showing that writers have more than one series in them.  Did you hear the story of when she went to the local dog rescue to get a greyhound or similar dog?  The usual donation is about £50, I think (for guinea pigs it’s usually about £30).  She gave a much larger cheque, since she could, and it was only afterwards that the dog people realised who she was!
    • Dolly Parton.  When I was young, Country singers were pretty much laughed at anyway, and with her assets and sequins and hair she came in for a lot of unkind press. But she knows what people like, and she’s a true professional in everything she does, and developed some great business ideas.  And every working woman should see 9 to 5 (which is always put on around midnight in the UK, so men of a certain age must think it’s a horror film) – and also Working Girl, which has similar themes.

All admirable people Jemima. Where can our tech savvy readers find you online?

Jemima blogs four or more times a week at http://jemimapett./com

Her book series have their own websites:
The Princelings of the East are at
The Viridian System series (scifi work in progress, book 1 - The Perihelix due out in the summer)
White Water Landings – her father’s memoirs of life in Africa in the 1930s running the ground stations for the Empire Flying Boat service

Follow Jemima on Twitter @jemima_pett, on pinterest JemimaPett, on Google+ jemima.pett , on Goodreads Jemima Pett

The Princelings Facebook page is

And her publishing imprint, Princelings Publications, has a website at  

Thanks for joining us on this week’s Three Times A Charm. Best of luck to you and your books.

GUESTS WELCOME!  I’m always looking for guests for Three Times A Charm. If you are an author, illustrator or book reviewer, an agent or an editor. If you have something related to children’s publishing that you’d like people to know about, feel free to contact me about a future appearance.