September 28, 2011

Three Times A Charm With Author Bill Kirk

Three Times a Charm is a weekly feature that spotlights authors, illustrators, bloggers, agents, editors or promoters from the publishing industry.

This week we are joined by author and comedian (though I’m not sure that last bit is an official title), Bill Kirk. Bill is a fellow “angel” at Guardian Angel Publishing. Bill tell us about yourself.

Since retiring from professional life in 2008, the bureaucratic writing I did for nearly 40 years has changed to plain old fun, pure and simple.  Now I get to write fiction, satire, contemporary humor and rhymes, poetry and anything else that comes to mind.  I’ve been fortunate to see some of my rhymes in popular children’s publications, like Boys' Quest, Fun For Kidz, Grandparents and Wee Ones magazines. 

Other publications include the North Dakota Horizons quarterly journal, the University of South Carolina Health Center Newsletter, the SacBreathe website and The Baseball Almanac website, among others.  I also wrote news and features for The Suttertown News and the Old City Guardian in Sacramento, CA in the early and mid 1990s.  As for my rhyming manuscripts, several have been published as children’s picture books by Guardian Angel Publishing.  Others are in the pipeline to be released during the next two or three years.  

Outside of writing, in my retirement I am the Scoutmaster in Boy Scout Troop 259 in Sacramento, a deacon in my church, a Certified Massage Therapist and a long distance runner (although the distances seem to be getting a bit shorter these days).  My wife, Rita and I have made Northern California our home since 1985.  But in 2012 or 2013, we plan to move to Gulf Breeze, FL near Pensacola to be close to my parents and to live our long term dream of having a house on the water—we already have the keys to the house and our next trip is in October. 

Wow, Bill! Impressive resume, active lifestyle, and realizing your hopes and dreams. You’re an inspiration.

Tell us your latest picture book release, Muscles Make Us Move. 

My latest book published by Guardian Angel Publishing is actually the third book in a series of children’s picture books written in rhyme on several of the body’s anatomical systems.  The first two books are titled “No Bones About It” and “Circulation Celebration”.  The series (titled THE SUM OF OUR PARTS) is illustrated by Eugene Ruble, who combines his technical drawing skill with quirky and playful artwork to make learning human anatomy fun. 

The muscles book leads the reader through the names, physical locations and functions of the major muscle groups.  The book is also filled with interesting facts about the muscles and how they work.  If you have wondered about the weird names, locations and functions of your major muscles, you will stretch your knowledge with this unique and fact-filled learning tool.

The series sounds fun and educational. Great for classrooms, libraries and homeschooling. Oh, and pediatrician waiting rooms!

Now, for the Threes. Share with us your top 3’s to help us know you a little better.

  • Top 3 skills to hone for people just starting in your business.  (1) learn basic computer skills needed to build a blog and design a website (2) be a stickler for spelling, grammar, punctuation and how to use language to express ideas (3) learn and practice discipline, jealously guarding your time to write and trusting your creative imagination.

  • Top 3 locations to work. (1) alone in our home-office at my computer, preferably with no distractions, (2) in a small café, the kind where people come and go but where you can sit at a table uninterrupted for a couple hours—if possible, do this at least once in a café in Paris and (3) on an airplane flying cross country, which gives you four or five hours for word play.

  • Top 3 leisure activities.  (1) backpacking pretty much anywhere—I was in a group that recently spent six days backpacking 66 miles in the High Sierra, (2) camping in tents or under the stars—you can actually see the Milky Way as a cloudy disk across the night sky when it is undimmed by man-made light, and (3) running almost anywhere but on trails is ideal.  The common theme in these activities is experiencing a simple and unfettered connection with nature.

  • Top 3 professions you wanted to be when you grew up.  (1) I wanted to be a doctor for the longest time—I built models of the skeleton, the heart, even the whole body (with a clear plastic “skin”)—then I ran into Organic Chemistry, (2) a political scientist, which I dabbled in during two careers and (3) a journalist, which I also practiced briefly along the way, if only as an amateur—although I did get paid $25 once for gas and expenses on a story about the northern California Senior Rodeo.



You did four! But they are all so great, far be it for me to eliminate one.

Where can our readers learn more about you and your writing?



Facebook as Bill Kirk

billkirk@billkirkwrites.com (e-mail address)
(916) 531-7746 (cell phone)

September 26, 2011

Recents

Recent Reads

The Storyteller by M Arthur – humble rating: Golf Clap+ – Well written story by fellow Bend-ite and middle-grade author. Good, strong p.o.v. which added to the intensity of the storytelling. I liked the end of the story line, I wasn’t super crazy about the Lemony Snicket type of dialogue at the very end. But I got over it quickly.








Abandon by Meg Cabot – humble rating: Golf Clap+ – So, when I first started reading I thought, “Wow, this is so cliché. How disappointing.” Me of little faith. Seriously, this is Meg Dang Cabot. Of course it was engaging and left me wanting the next book immediately. Duh.









Passion by Lauren Kate - humble rating: Golf Clap++ – I like this series. I’m a sucker for a good love story and this one is pretty compelling. I got a bit tired of jumping from life to life with Luce, but Lauren handled the time travel aspect and meeting the different time versions of the characters well.









If I Stay by Gayle Forman - humble rating: Motivational Speaker – Once I cracked this book open, I had a hard time putting it down. Such a beautiful, emotional story. I was exhausted when I finished reading it and it wasn’t because I stayed up until 3 am.









Jumping Off Swings by Jo Knowles - humble rating: Motivational Speaker – Seriously! Enough tears already. Another powerful, beautiful, true – painfully true book. Jo Knowles handled the topic of high school pregnancy; the why’s and the how’s and the when’s - with such honesty. I read this now as my nod to banned book week (I’m pretty sure this was challenged at some point somewhere).
  
My own humble rating system: Please feel free to ask for clarification or to dispute my opinion.  I only ask that we ALWAYS remain respectful to the author.

Chirping Cricket – At the end all you hear is the chirp of the cricket.  I doubt I’ll ever use this because I can’t publicly embarrass someone knowingly.  However, I must have a ‘beginning’ rating in order for the rest to make sense. 

Golf Clap - The polite ovation that follows a well-placed shot.

Motivational Speaker –You are left fired up and eager to get to work making the world a better place.  You can’t wait to tell your friends all the insights and inspiration you took away from it. 

Rock Concert – Hooting and hollering, cheering, singing and clapping throughout the performance.  Swaying and lit lighters accompany ballads.  Riots break out if there is no encore.

September 21, 2011

Three Times A Charm with Mike Mullin

Three Times a Charm is a weekly feature that spotlights authors, illustrators, bloggers, agents, editors or promoters from the publishing industry.

This week we are joined by author, Mike Mullin and his newly released book Ashfall. Let’s learn more about Mike.

Mike Mullin’s first job was scraping the gum off the undersides of desks at his high school. From there, things went steadily downhill. He almost got fired by the owner of a bookstore due to his poor taste in earrings. He worked at a place that showed slides of poopy diapers during lunch (it did cut down on the cafeteria budget). The hazing process at the next company included eating live termites raised by the resident entomologist (they taste like a cross between walnuts and carrots), so that didn’t last long either. For a while Mike juggled bottles at a wine shop, sometimes to disastrous effect. Oh, and then there was the job where swarms of wasps occasionally tried to chase him off ladders. So he’s really hoping this writing thing works out.
Mike holds a black belt in Songahm Taekwondo. He lives in Indianapolis with his wife and her three cats. Ashfall is his first novel.

Juggling wine! That’s alcohol abuse.

Mike, you have a new release out in the world. Tell us all about it.

Many visitors to Yellowstone National Park don’t realize that the boiling hot springs and spraying geysers are caused by an underlying supervolcano. It has erupted three times in the last 2.1 million years, and it will erupt again, changing the earth forever.

Fifteen-year-old Alex is home alone when Yellowstone erupts. His town collapses into a nightmare of darkness, ash, and violence, forcing him to flee. He begins a harrowing trek in search of his parents and sister, who were visiting relatives 140 miles away.

Along the way, Alex struggles through a landscape transformed by more than a foot of ash. The disaster brings out the best and worst in people desperate for food, clean water, and shelter.  When an escaped convict injures Alex, he searches for a sheltered place where he can wait—to heal or to die. Instead, he finds Darla. Together, they fight to achieve a nearly impossible goal: surviving the supervolcano.

I love a good disaster. As long as they aren’t real, that is.

Now, for the Threes. Share with us your top 3’s to help us know you a little better.

  • Top 3 books you’ve read in the past year.

Okay for Now by Gary Schmidt. My absolute favorite book of 2011 so far. Gary Schmidt has had two should-have-won Newbery Honor Medals with Lizzie Bright and the Buckminster Boy and The Wednesday Wars. Third time’s the charm. (J)

Heart of a Samurai by Margi Preus. I love the way this novel breaks middle grade conventions by starting with a 14-year-old protagonist and following him throughout his life. Reads like a classic, in a good way.

Marcelo in the Real World by Francisco X. Stork. I finally got around to reading this one in February. I wish I hadn’t waited. Marcelo is one of the most quietly heroic protagonists in literature.


  • Top 3 pieces of advice for people just starting in your business.

How to become an author in three easy steps:
1)      Read a lot
2)      Write a lot
3)      Submit or self-publish your work
Yep, it’s that easy. And that hard.


  • Top 3 songs on your play list.

I never listen to music while I write. I prefer silence or the hubbub of background conversations in a coffee shop, library or restaurant. But when I was doing the substantive edits for Ashfall, I created a special Pandora radio station. I listened to it until I hit Pandora’s 40 hour limit on day three of my manic editing trance. The three seed songs were:

“I Am a Man of Constant Sorrow” by The Soggy Bottom Boys
“Hallelujah” by Time for Three and
“Enter Sandman” by Metallica

I figured the shifts from classical to hard rock to bluegrass would help keep me from falling into an editing rut. If you read Ashfall, you can judge for yourself whether or not it worked.


If you read Ashfall, you mean WHEN you read Ashfall


Mike, where can our readers find information about you and Ashfall online?



Thank you, Mike for joining us for this week’s Threes! It’s been great learning such things as the taste of termites. But mostly it has been great chatting with you.

THANKS!

September 14, 2011

Three Times A Charm With Karen Gowen

Three Times a Charm is a weekly feature that spotlights authors, illustrators, bloggers, agents, editors or promoters from the publishing industry.

This week author and assistant editor, Karen Gowen, joins us to talk about her passions: authors & literacy. 

Karen, tell us a little about yourself.

I love to read and I believe in the power of books to change lives. My passion is to empower authors and promote literacy. I am an assistant editor at WiDo Publishing, and the co-founder of Celerytree.com. I blog (excessively) about writing, editing, and publishing issues. I tweet a lot. My published works are Farm Girl, a memoir, and Uncut Diamonds, a novel. House of Diamonds is scheduled for 2011 release by WiDo Publishing.

Congratulations on your books, Karen. Tell us more about WiDo and Celery Tree?

Much of what I do I talk about freely on my blog. Information about my books is on my blog, and I post often about WiDo Publishing, which is an independent publishing company located in Salt Lake City, Utah. I am involved in setting up a new website for authors, Celery Tree, which is set for launching this fall, (a year late but better late than never, right?)

WiDo Publishing is currently accepting submissions. Check out their website to see if your work might be a good fit, and for submission guidelines. They do not accept children’s illustrated stories at this time, but they will accept middle-grade fiction if it has widespread appeal. They are actively seeking YA fiction.

Now, for the Threes. Share with us your top 3’s to help us know you a little better.

  • Top 3 pieces of advice for people just starting in your business.
  1. Write and finish. Nothing gets published unless it is finished.
  2. There are many ways to get published. Research the options and move forward, wasting no time in negative thinking.
  3. Set up a blog and then build relationships. That’s more important than selling.


  • Top 3 snacks to munch on while working.
They all start with C: Diet Coke, cookies, carrots (at least one is healthy)


  • Top 3 leisure activities.
Reading, cooking, walking

Karen, where can our readers find out more about you and your work?

My blog is Coming Down the Mountain: A Writer’s Blog: http://www.karenjonesgowen.blogspot.com/ (Pssst, I’ve been following for awhile - good stuff!)
WiDo Publishing website: www.widopublishing.com

Thanks, Karen, for talking with us on this week’s Three Times A Charm. It has been so much fun getting to know you.

THANKS!

September 12, 2011

Fiona Ingram Presents The Secret of the Sacred Scarab


World of Ink virtual book tour stops in today. We are talking with Fiona Ingram, author of, The Secret of the Sacred Scarab, about her book, her writing inspiration and learn what she was like back when she was the right age for her book. First, let’s learn a little about our guest.

Fiona Ingram’s earliest story-telling talents came to the fore when, from the age of ten, she entertained her three younger brothers and their friends with serialized tales of children undertaking dangerous and exciting exploits, which they survived through courage and ingenuity. Haunted houses, vampires, and skeletons leaping out of coffins were hot favorites in the cast of characters. Although Fiona Ingram has been a journalist for the last fifteen years, writing a children’s bookThe Secret of the Sacred Scarab—was an unexpected step, inspired by a recent trip to Egypt. The tale of the sacred scarab began life as a little anecdotal tale for her 2 nephews (then 10 and 12), who had accompanied her on the Egyptian trip. This short story grew into a children’s book, the first in the adventure series Chronicles of the Stone. The author has finished the next book in the series—The Search for the Stone of Excalibur—a huge treat for young King Arthur fans. Although Fiona Ingram does not have children of her own, she has an adopted teenage foster child, from an underprivileged background who is just discovering the joys of reading for pleasure. Naturally, Fiona is a voracious reader and has been from early childhood. Her interests include literature, art, theatre, collecting antiques, animals, music, and films. She loves travel and has been fortunate to have lived in Europe (while studying) and America (for work). She has traveled widely and fulfilled many of her travel goals.

Kai: Fiona, what age range is The Secret of the Sacred Scarab written for?

Fiona: The book is aimed at middle grade readers, ages 9/10-14, around the real ages of my nephews (10 and 12) when we went on the trip. I am not sure if I chose the book or the book chose me because I ended up feeling very comfortable with the workings of the 10-12 year-old mind. I think the book will appeal primarily to the target age group (10-14), but also to people of all ages because the plot is fascinating (multi-layered), with many unusual twists and turns, and the setting is exotic and interesting. Egypt is a land of mystery and ancient magic. Many people love archaeological thrillers that hint of past golden ages and incredible civilizations, and the ‘history mystery’ ideas make for exciting speculation on the past. Children who read the book will enjoy the ‘reality’ of everything – the characters make you feel as if you too could visit a strange land and be caught up in thrilling events. Surprisingly, adults also love the book, and so many people have told me it makes them feel like a child again, open to adventure, and the excitement of something fun and interesting.

Kai: Can you share a memory of yours or a story of you from when you were within the age range of your target readers?

Fiona: It is an understatement to say I was a bookworm. I was a book devourer. I attended boarding school for about a year at age ten and I remember walking from the school to the boarding house every day down a long and winding path, reading as I walked. The only reason I stayed on the path is because I walked with one foot in the gutter and one foot on the path so that I could still read and walk, and not end up crashing into a tree! Two books I read and reread from the school library were At The Back Of the North Wind and The Princess and Curdie by George MacDonald. I have never forgotten them. I recently looked them up and found they were originally written in the late 1800s and are considered to be classic children’s masterpieces. I think a great story is timeless. I loved those books!

Kai: What a great story, Fiona. Tell us, how do you think life has changed for children today than when you were that age?

Fiona: Life has changed enormously for children in the last twenty years or so. I remember my parents telling me to ‘go read a book’ if we whined about being bored. So we did. Nowadays surveys reveal that kids are more likely to read text messages, emails and Facebook posts than a book. Some children have never been in a library and many do not read a book outside school. Technological advances have also removed many developmental steps that enabled children to really discover things for themselves, or use their imaginations. These days no one ‘looks up’ information. Press a button and it is all done via the internet. Sadly, in many cases the process of exploration and discovery has been bypassed. If you watch very small children with cloth or pop-up books, their faces are a study in concentration as they really get to grips with their book.

Kai: Kids who’ve never been to a library?! My kids and I practically live at ours. Yet, we always have late fees. How does that happen? (You don’t have to answer that one.) How do you feel life has remained the same?

Fiona: In essence children themselves have not changed, and their responses to something exciting and interesting remain the same from one generation to the next. A captivating story, in whatever format, will hold a child’s attention and stimulate their imagination.

Kai: What was your favorite toy or activity when you were that age?

Fiona: Reading. My parents were really poor while the five (yes five!) of us were growing up, so we read what was on the bookshelves. My mother and father both love reading and Mom had kept all her children’s classics. We cut our teeth on (apart from Time Life encyclopedias and Greek Myths & Legends for Children) Rudyard Kipling’s Kim and Jungle Book, The Wind in the Willows, as many Brothers Grimm and other fairy story books as we could devour, all the Enid Blytons, The Water Babies, Treasure Island, Little Women, Little Men, The Snow Goose, the Anne of Green Gables books, all the Lucy Fitch Perkins Twins books (an amazing mixture of story, geography, history and drama), Narnia books … the list is endless. We also acted out all these stories for my long-suffering parents.

Kai: What inspired this book and how did you decide on this age range for your book?

Fiona: I am a journalist so naturally I had mulled over the idea of writing a book at some stage in my writing career. I just didn’t know what to tackle. My mother was the catalyst, you could say. My mother, then in her late 60s, had always wanted to visit Egypt. When a group tour became available through a national family magazine, she asked me to accompany her. I prefer visiting the old cities and museums of Europe so my response was luke-warm, to say the least. She also invited my 2 nephews, then 10 and 12 to accompany us. It was an amazing trip, filled with interesting experiences. It proved to be the inspiration for the book. When I returned, after we’d admired the souvenirs and the photos, I thought wouldn’t it be a cute idea to write a short story based on our experiences, naturally including myself (a journalist) an intrepid globe-trotting Gran, and two young boys. That was the beginning of it all. The short story became a novel; the novel became a children’s adventure series (Chronicles of the Stone) because at the end of the first book I realized that the story had just grown and grown into something quite spectacular. I wrote around the ages of my nephews at that time, and they were rather advanced, intelligent children, with a good grasp of general knowledge, and a thirst for knowledge. The publishers wanted to extend the age category to 14 because they felt the children’s viewpoint was quite mature.

Kai: Finally, I have four kids. Over the years, they’ve attended a lot of birthday parties. I love the idea of building a theme gift around a book. If you were to give a gift basket to a child based on your book, what else would be in the basket besides a copy of The Secret of the Sacred Scarab?

Fiona: I have given away many gift baskets in various competitions and mine is a particularly exciting one! I would of course have a signed copy of the book with an inscription from me on the flyleaf, encouraging the child to continue his or her reading adventure throughout life. In the basket would be a signed poster of the book cover, an illustrated bookmark, a postcard, and a small black basalt stone, with a gold image of the sacred scarab engraved on it (this is a replica of the Stone of Power!). The final piece would be a really stunning T-shirt with Egyptian hieroglyphics on it. With some imagination, this idea could work for just about any book hamper.
  










It has been a pleasure having you visit Strands of Thought today, Fiona. I hope our readers rush out to get a copy of your book for all the 10 – 14 year olds in their lives.

Here is Fiona’s contact information to learn more about her and her book:

Author Website: http://www.FionaIngram.com





You can visit with Fiona on her other World of Ink tour stops. Just visit her tour page for the links. Thanks for joining us.

September 11, 2011

Recents

It has been two months since I last posted my recent reads. A couple good reasons for this. One is that life got really sad and complicated. Two, I read four books I can't post about because they are for a competition. So in order to make up for it, I plowed through two books this weekend. I feel back on track with my reading.

Recent Reads:

Beauty Queens by Libba Bray – humble rating: Motivational Speaker – Fun!










Sophie & Carter by Chelsea Fine – humble rating: Motivational Speaker – Powerful, sad, hopeful.









Eighth Grade Super Zero by Olugbemisola Rhuday-Perkovich - humble rating: Golf Clap++ – Good vulnerability and growth in the m.c. I loved how he questioned religion. So realistic, never preachy.








Tomorrow Girls – Behind The Gates by Eva Gray - humble rating: Golf Clap – Fast, fun reading.









Tomorrow Girls – Run For Cover by Eva Gray - humble rating: Golf Clap – Just as quick & entertaining. Liked that it was from another character’s p.o.v.

My own humble rating system: Please feel free to ask for clarification or to dispute my opinion.  I only ask that we ALWAYS remain respectful to the author.

Chirping Cricket – At the end all you hear is the chirp of the cricket.  I doubt I’ll ever use this because I can’t publicly embarrass someone knowingly.  However, I must have a ‘beginning’ rating in order for the rest to make sense. 

Golf Clap - The polite ovation that follows a well-placed shot.

Motivational Speaker –You are left fired up and eager to get to work making the world a better place.  You can’t wait to tell your friends all the insights and inspiration you took away from it. 

Rock Concert – Hooting and hollering, cheering, singing and clapping throughout the performance.  Swaying and lit lighters accompany ballads.  Riots break out if there is no encore

September 7, 2011

Three Times A Charm With Rick Daley

Three Times a Charm is a weekly feature that spotlights authors, illustrators, bloggers, agents, editors or promoters from the publishing industry.

This week author, Rick Daley, joins us to give us his top advice and to talk about his book, The Man In The Cinder Clouds. First, let’s learn a little about Rick.

Rick Daley has been writing professionally for over 15 years.  His experience includes marketing copy for print and web, press releases, business proposals, training and technical manuals, and whitepapers.  His essays, ranging from family life during the holidays to his first skydiving experience, have been featured in The Columbus Dispatch

An experienced public speaker with a background in music and theater, Rick has also authored and delivered numerous training seminars and workshops.   

Rick lives in Lewis Center, Ohio with his wife and two sons (and a neurotic schnauzer).      

Rick, tell us about your book, The Man In The Cinder Clouds:

The freezing temperature is the only thing cool about Jason’s trip to the North Pole, but things heat up when his father discovers a book buried deep in the ice.  This is no ordinary book, mind you. For starters, it was written by an Elf. And if that’s not enough, the book proves the existence of Kris Kringle—you know, Santa Claus.
 
Born human but abandoned as a baby, Kris is rescued by Elfs and grows up among them…but he doesn’t really fit in. Kris embarks on a quest to find his true family among the humans by delivering presents on Christmas day. But there’s a catch: the High Council of Elfs is convinced humans are wicked at heart, and Kris can’t return to his Elfin home unless he can prove otherwise.

His journey takes him all the way to the legendary Great Northern Glen, and from there to the town of Oldenton, where he finds two orphans who are about to lose everything they have to a greedy uncle.  With only days before Christmas, Kris must try to help the kids, deliver his presents, find his family, and prove that human virtue does exist…even in the most unexpected of human hearts.
“(Daley) brings modern and ancient adventures together with a splash of magic and the wonder of Christmas in this completely fresh take on the story of Santa Claus.” – Susan Kaye Quinn, Author of Life, Liberty, and Pursuit
Available at:


Now, for the Threes. Share with us your top 3’s to help us know you a little better.

  • Top 3 pieces of advice for people just starting in your business.

1.      Don’t give up.  This is a tough, competitive business.  They only way to guarantee failure is to stop trying.
2.      Re-write.  As the saying goes, “Real writers re-write.”  You will balk at the amount of work it is to completely re-write your first book, but it is necessary.  If you delay the inevitable, all you do is extend what is already an excruciatingly long time to get published.
3.      Don’t worry about your query until your manuscript is rock solid.  It’s a time-sink and a distraction.


  • Top 3 leisure activities.
1.      Running.  It’s a great way to clear the mind and stay in shape.  Long hours in front of a desk need to be counter-balanced somehow.
2.      Yoga.  Sitting and running makes for tight muscles. Yoga stretches and strengthens the body, and the mental focus you need to keep from falling over isn’t so bad either.
3.      Music.  Playing guitar / bas / piano (or trying to teach myself violin now that my son has one) would top the list, but I also enjoy listening to music.  Which brings me to…


  • Top 3 songs on your play list.
This changes frequently, but currently the songs that stay near the top of my playlist are:

1.      “Dog Days Are Over” by Florence + The Machine
2.      “Rolling in the Deep” by Adele
3.      Anything by Pink Floyd.  They are my all-time favorite band.  So many of their songs have two sets of incredible lyrics…the words written by Roger Waters, and the guitar solos from David Gilmour (which count as lyrics to me…he makes a guitar sing).

Music can be so powerful and empowering, can’t it?

Rick, where can our readers find out more about you and your work?

Rick Daley
My Blog: http://mydaleyrant.blogspot.com (My Daley Rant) ßclever, Rick J
My Other Blog: http://openquery.blogspot.com (The Public Query Slushpile)
Twitter: @rjdaley101071
Facebook: Cinder Clouds