November 30, 2011

Three Times A Charm with S.R. Johannes

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

This week I’m excited to welcome, smack dab in the middle of her book release, author, S.R. Johannes. Shelli, tell us about yourself.

S.R. Johannes lives in Atlanta Georgia with her dog, British-accented husband, and the huge imaginations of their little prince and princess, which she hopes- someday- will change the world. After earning an MBA and working in corporate America, S.R. Johannes traded in her expensive suits, high heels, and corporate lingo for a family, flip-flops, and her love of writing. You can find her hanging out online and visit her at srjohannes.com

Shelli, congratulations on the release. Tell us about your beautiful new book, Untraceable.

Everyone leaves a mark. 
What would you do if yours was erased? 
Grace has lived in the Smokies all her life, patrolling with her forest ranger father who taught her about wildlife, tracking, and wilderness survival. 
When her dad goes missing on a routine patrol, Grace refuses to believe he’s dead and fights the town authorities, tribal officials, and nature to find him.
One day, while out tracking clues, Grace is rescued from danger by Mo, a hot guy with an intoxicating accent and a secret. As her feelings between him and her ex-boyfriend get muddled, Grace travels deep into the wilderness to escape and find her father. 
Along the way, Grace learns terrible secrets that sever relationships and lives. Soon she’s enmeshed in a web of conspiracy, deception, and murder. And it’s going to take a lot more than a compass and a motorcycle (named Lucifer) for this kick-butting heroine to save everything she loves.


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.

I would say plotting, patience, and passion.

Without those, it’s hard to succeed.
Plotting your book out – even at a high level – gives you diretcion and ensures you are pointing somewhere. Even if it changes.

Patience/Look to your next project – This biz is slow and if you sit around waiting, 6 months can go by where you do nothing and writing nothing. When yo get something out – as hard as it is – sit back down and keep writing. The days wont drag by and you will be moving towards another goal.

Passion – If you do not love what you write – it shows. NO matter what happens in the market – put on your blinders and push forward on something that inspires you.


Top 3 pieces of advice for kids these days.

Relax. Unplug. Connect

Relax. I know life seems so hard but it gets so much better once you get out of high school. Try to find your real friends and hunker down. This too shall pass.

Unplug. Get outside. Staying inside on the computer changes your body’s hormones and make up. I promise you – if you feel down or overwhelmed – get outside and you will feel better.

Connect. In person. Get off the social networks and be sure to get some people time in. It’s not a real relationship unless its balanced with real live talk and online talk.


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

Marine Biologist – the only reason I didn’t was because my dad would not pay out of state tuition for Miami University and I was too cheap to pay anything.

Singer – I sang in a jazz band all through school and after. I love to sing.

Professional freeloader J - it speaks for itself.


Please include contact information; websites, blogs, social media here:

Contact information:

Twitter: https://twitter.com/#!/srjohannes

Be sure to check out all the festivities Shelli is having to celebrate the release of Untraceable. Thanks for chatting with us today. I can’t wait to read your book and I hope all our readers rush out to get it themselves!

November 28, 2011

Gratitude Giveaway Winners!!!

Congratulations to blog followers Judy and Ricki! You've each won a signed copy of The Weaver.

Thanks to everyone who entered. I LOVED reading what you are grateful for. Thanks for following the blog. Readers rock!

Karen Cioffi presents Walking Through Walls


World of Ink virtual book tour stops in today to introduce us to author, Karen Cioffi. Let’s learn a little about Karen:

Karen Cioffi is an advocate of education, reading, and the environment.  She loves how reading can spark a child’s imagination and bring him or her to new worlds and on amazing adventures.
                       
Along with writing children’s books, Karen is a ghostwriter and freelance writer, and has several nonfiction books on writing and book marketing. She has lived in New York City all her life, and two of her favorite sayings are:

“Nothing ventured, nothing gained.” American proverb
“Be the change you want to see in the world.” M. Ghandi

Karen is with us today to talk about her fantasy Walking Through Walls. Here is more about the book:

Walking Through Walls is based on an ancient Chinese tale and set in 16th century China. Twelve year old Wang dreams of becoming rich and powerful.  He studies the legend of the Eternals, a group of mystics who are well known for their magical feats and power. When he is sure they are real, he journeys to their home in the Loa Mountain and begins an apprenticeship with the Master Eternal.

Unfortunately, Wang does not have the patience or moral fiber for the long and arduous undertaking.  Before he leaves his apprenticeship, he gets the Master to teach him one magic formula – walking through walls.

Kai: What age range is your book for?

Karen: Walking Through Walls is geared toward the middle-grade and young adult age group. But, adults find it a great read also.

It’s also a good fit with the chapter book group and the reluctant reader group, as it’s a short book and each chapter begins with a black and white illustration by Aidana Willow-Raven.

Kai: Can you share a memory of yours or a story of you from when you were that age?

Karen: I remember being bullied in middle-grade school. I remember being bused out of my neighborhood for my middle-grade school years. I also remember in High School getting reprimanded for wearing pants to school – back then girls had to wear skirts or dresses.

I have so many great memories from my teenage years. And, the Beatles were huge, and there were the Rolling Stones, Herman’s Hermits, the Rascals, Sonny and Cher, Paul Revere and the Raiders . . . Ah, the good old days!

Kai: How has life changed for children today than when you were that age?

Karen: It’s an entirely different world than when I was in middle-grade, primarily due to the advances in technology. We didn’t have computers, cell phones, DVDs, cable, remotes, and so on. We didn’t even have word processors back then – LOL -  am I dating myself too much here.

 It was a simpler and slower paced world than today’s lightening paced one.

The other significant difference I can see is crime. When I was a child, we kept our doors unlocked during the day – here in NYC we can’t do that anymore. Today the world is much more dangerous and frightening.

Kai: How is life still the same?

Karen: Families still struggle with the same issues as before – I don’t think that will ever change. And, bullying, unfortunately, still goes on.

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

Karen: I loved reading as a kid. My favorite books were Nancy Drew. In my teens I gravitated toward poetry and J. R. R. Tolkien's books.

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

Karen: Chance brought the idea for this book to me. I was involved in a critique group with a Chinese nonfiction author. He sent me a rough outline of an ancient Chinese tale, Taoist Master of the Lao Mountain. He thought it’d make a good children’s book.

I had to change it from an adult protagonist to a child protagonist and as I started writing it, I realized it was too involved for a children’s picture book, so decided on a chapter book. It then evolved into a middle-grade book.

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 Walking Through Walls?

Karen: Since the target group is MG and YA, the basket would contain a book on dragons; a dragon poster, a dragon figure, a book on ancient China, possibly a magician kit for children, and some kind of Chinese trinket.

Thank you for joining us today, Karen. It has been a pleasure chatting with you. To learn more about Karen’s work, visit her website.

You can find out more about Karen Cioffi’s World of Ink Author/Book Tour schedule at http://storiesforchildrenpublishing.com/KarenCioffi.aspx. There will be giveaways, reviews, interviews, guest posts and more. Make sure to stop by and interact with Karen and the hosts at the different stops by leaving comments and/or questions.  
In addition, come listen to Blog Talk Radio’s World of Ink Network show: Stories for Children at http://www.blogtalkradio.com/worldofinknetwork. The hosts VS Grenier, Kris Quinn Chirstopherson and Irene Roth will be chatting with Karen Cioffi about her books, writing, the publishing industry and experiences with virtual tours. Karen will also be sharing writing tips and trials, and tribulations of the writer’s life. The show will be live November 21, 2011 at 2pm EST.

November 27, 2011

My Daily Grateful - Family

Today’s Daily Grateful is family. I am grateful for both my immediate and my extended family.

-For parents who provided me with a secure and loving upbringing even after their divorce. Who have always believed in me. Whose support I never question. Mom, I miss you more than I can say.

-For my sisters who I know beyond all doubt will always do whatever it takes for me, my husband and my kids, if need be. Who make me laugh, a lot. Who aren’t ashamed to join me in a good sob-fest. Who make me laugh, a lot. (Yes, it needs to be repeated!) Happy birthday, Shell.

-For the dozens (2 ½ of them, I think) of brothers and sisters-in-law who have provided stunning examples of family and who are so supportive and really, really fun!

-For the scores of nieces and nephews, great nieces and great nephews who add depths of joy to our lives. Who consistently remind me how blessed I am to be a part of this amazing family.

-For my children who continually inspire me, awe me with their abilities and humble me with their humanity. It is so bittersweet to see you grow into independent, young adults. Sometimes I think we did our job too well.

-But really, I am most grateful for my husband. For some reason that I may never understand, this man chose me. And when he did that, he completely altered my life’s path. I’ve learned so much from him and because of him. I’ve grown. I’ve tried things I would never have had the courage to try on my own. Yet the most important thing I’ve learned from him is the value of the individual. There is never an “us” nor a “them.” There are only several hims or hers that make up the collective and each one has a story, a reason, a worth. I don’t even think he meant to teach me that, but it was through him that I came to realize it. 1.) By being accepted by the individuals in his enormous family. 2.) Through his quiet accessing of a situation. 3.) By his never asking “whose fault”, but instead “how can we help?” Our children wouldn’t be the people they are if it weren’t for him. I know I have a hand in their development, but I wouldn’t be the person I am had I not met him. My husband truly is the better half of this couple. I’m thankful every moment of every day that he is in my life helping me become the person I am.

It has been lovely sharing my daily gratefuls with you over the last week and a half. I truly am thankful for my blog followers, because without readers, my writing means nothing. Thank you for taking time out of your day to read. Whether it is each day that I post, or only a few times a month, please know that I value the time you give to me. Thank you to followers who are compelled to post a comment. Have you ever given a presentation in front of a room of people who weren’t looking at you? Doodling? Obviously daydreaming? Yeah, blogging is a lot like that. Frequently it feels like no one is listening. So thanks to those who “raise their hands.” Please remember to enter to win one of two signed copies of The Weaver as my thank you for following my blog. You have until midnight tonight.

Hope you’ve enjoyed My Daily Grateful series. I’d love to hear which post resonated with you most? Now it’s your turn to tell me what you’re grateful for.

November 26, 2011

My Daily Grateful - Friends

If you’ve been reading my daily grateful posts, and you are a friend of mine, you’ve probably got your hand on your hip, toe is a-tapping and you’re saying, “Hey what about me!?”

Well, with only today and tomorrow left of grateful posts, I’ve saved the best for last. Today my friends take center stage. I shout, I exalt, I’m as obnoxious as can be about how thankful I am for each and every one of you.

Dicitionary.com defines friend as: a person attached to another by feelings of affection or personal regard.

LAME! That isn’t what friendship is.

Friendship is hopscotch, jumping into a pile of leaves, kickball, late night admissions, high school football games, secret crushes, marathon coffee shop visits, rock concerts, road trips, weddings, baby showers, toasting promotions, kiddy parties, New Year celebrations, laughter, and loads of love.

Friendship also includes copious tears, some terrors, some anger and a lot of forgiveness.

I have friends who I’ve only known a few years, but hope to never lose. I have a friend who knows everything about me – yes, she holds the power. I have a friend I’ve known my entire life, how amazing is that? Well, as amazing as she is, actually.

I’m thankful to Facebook for reuniting me with many friends from the past. It is so amazing to be back in touch with the people I shared my elementary, middle school and high school years with. Each and every one of you makes me smile. I love sharing our adult lives, our families.

Friends are my strength, my sanity, and my escape. I’m so blessed to have such wonderful, supportive, fun, loving friends.

I’m thankful for the friends in my life like I’m thankful for my blog followers. Be sure to enter my Gratitude Giveaway. Two of my blog followers will each win a signed copy of The Weaver. You have until 11:59 on 11/27 – EEP, that’s tomorrow. Hurry, hurry!!!! *runs around, arms flailing*

November 25, 2011

My Daily Grateful - Faith

As a young adult, trying to figure out how to deal with ever increasing pressure and stress, my mother said to me, “Just hand your troubles up to God.” My eyebrow arched, my lip curled and I said, “Huh?” She explained that when you feel your troubles are too much for you to deal with, hand them up to God. He will sort them out and hand them back as he sees fit. When you are ready and capable. He doesn’t solve them for you, but lightens your load so that you are better equipped to solve them yourself.

If memory serves me right, I wasn’t able to figure out just how to hand my troubles up to God at that time.

It wasn’t until another stressful time in my life when I remembered my mom explaining this elusive ‘hand off’ that I successfully did just that. I let go of the worry and the stress as I handed my troubles off, knowing that I’d still have to resolve each and every one of them, but all in good time.

Even since my first successful experience I’ve been unsuccessful again. There are times my faith isn’t strong enough, or perhaps God feels it isn’t necessary to carry the burden, but I will find myself unable to figure out how to let go.

Faith is a funny thing. As a whole, it is an easy thing to have. But those individual parts that make up the whole are sometimes very challenging to work through. When you have to simply believe even though it isn’t logical or necessarily practical, that’s hard. When you are hurting, grieving, or really angry, faith isn’t the first thing you want to reach for, it’s more like a machete. And sometimes faith is downright incongruous to your situation. You look at the evil that has taken place in the world or in your life and you can’t hold the two aspects in your head at the same time.

I had some fabulous things happen this year. And I’ve had some really cruddy things happen. Since it is easy to have faith in the goods times, I’m gonna focus on my faith through the not so good times. I felt a lot of anger this year. A lot of sorrow. Oh my god, the sorrow! And some doubt. Those are the individual parts that tested my overall whole faith. I certainly didn’t ace my tests. I think I might have even had to take a make up test for a failure or two. Some of those tests are long, like unending scantrons. The endurance is a test in itself. Sometimes I’m just downright tired and don’t feel like digging around to find my faith. But…

I know a man who has no faith. Believes in nothing. He’s a nice guy. Tells a great story. I enjoy his company. But the decisions he makes don’t always gel with the decisions I would make. Because to him there are no consequences. He doesn’t have that ultimate right vs wrong morality. Eternity isn’t on the line for him. It fascinates me to witness how having no faith impacts behavior. I’ve learned a lot about my faith from knowing him.

I’m not trying to convert you or judge you for where you’ve placed your faith or if you’ve chosen not to have any at all. But I know it shapes the person you are just as much as it has shaped me.

I’m thankful to have faith. I love knowing that there is something even bigger than this beautiful, scary, difficult, amazing life. I’m thankful for the chance at eternity with those I hold most dear.

And I’m thankful for my blog followers! Only three days left to enter my Gratitude Giveaway. Do it now, ‘cause what if you forget? Plus, super easy entry rules. Because I like things simple like that.

Also, please visit Melissa Goodwin's blog. She and I are chatting about my writing and my lack of story inspiration in my idyllic upbringing.

November 24, 2011

My Daily Grateful - Dreams

Some people don’t have the capacity to dream. Perhaps they are lacking imagination, life experience or confidence. Regardless, they make their way through life living from one event to the next never striving for much more.

I dream practically every night. I daydream. I sometimes spend far too much time in my dreamland. But I’m so thankful for the ability to dream. To hope. To set goals. To imagine a life with more of the things I love.

I’m an equal opportunity dreamer. I dream for my husband, my kids, my sisters, my besties.

I’m lucky because I don’t have many bad dreams, but I do have them. Yet, I’m thankful for them too, because they ground me. Help me see that my dreams should to stay tethered to reality in some small way to make the dream a possibility.

I dream in French. Though I never became fluent in the language in the waking world, I will have entire dreams in French and I’m pretty sure I’m speaking it correctly as is everyone else.

Most of my dreams are chockfull of people I don’t actually know…yet. Many of them I make up to fill a spot in my dream, but there have been several occasions where I’ve met the person later in life. My nighttime dreams can be very prophetic, but I don’t think that is unusual, I just think I listen or remember more than most.

I have ghost dreams, that aren’t scary. I have dystopian dreams that are. I have a reoccurring dream of hosting Saturday Night Live, with Josh Groban as the musical talent. I love that dream!

Mostly, I dream of a comfortable future for my family and lots of book contracts for me.

I’m grateful to have the capacity to dream and I’m thankful for my blog followers. Only 3 more days to enter my Gratitude Giveaway. Dream big, enter several and win, win, win.

Sweet dreams

November 23, 2011

Three Times A Charm with Jeanette Larson

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

This week I am pleased to welcome author, Jeanette Larson. Jeanette, tell us about yourself.

Growing up I lived in many places but as an adult I settled in Texas. I still love to travel and have visited many countries and most of the states. I studied anthropology at the University of New Mexico, which was not the best degree for getting a job but was good background for working in a library. After marrying a guy I met at UNM, I moved to Southern California and got a master's degree in library science. While working in a library during library school I discovered that I loved children's and young adult literature and working with kids. After more than 30 years working as a librarian, I "took my pension" in early 2006 to pursue freelance work as a consultant, trainer, and writer. I also teach a couple of classes in the library school at Texas Woman's University. Over the years I have written several books for librarians and educators but in 2005 I worked with Adrienne Yorinks on her book, Quilt of States. (I wrote the piece on why Texas wanted to join the Union and found 49 other librarians and historians to write about their state.) I caught the writing bug and in 2011 my first book for young people was published. I live in a smaller community outside of Austin, TX with my husband, Jim (yep, he's the guy I met at UNM; we'll be married 37 years at the end of January), our two adorable schipperke dogs, Indigo and Daisy, and two cats.

What an impressive path to your writing career. Congrats on 37 years of marriage, that’s impressive too.

Jeantette, tell us about your books.

I've always liked birds but became fascinated with hummingbirds after we planted wildflowers and plants that attract them in the garden at our home in Pflugerville. I was searching for a topic for my first book for young people when I happened to visit Rockport, TX during the hummingbird migration. Surrounded by these magnificent little birds, I remembered stories I had heard while studying Native American cultures at the University of New Mexico. Hummingbirds: Facts and Folkore from the Americas combines factual information about the world's smallest birds, found only in the Americas, with folktales and mythology from native cultures and First Nations. The book is beautifully illustrated by my writing partner, Adrienne Yorinks, with fabric art that truly reflect the beauty of the birds. I've really enjoyed talking with students at schools about the book and sharing my fascination with hummingbirds with them. I've also been promoting the book at various book festivals, including the Texas Book Festival and the Princeton Children's Book Festival.

I also recently finished a book for the American Library Association called El Dia de Los Ninos/El Dia de Los Libros: Building a Culture in Your Community Through Dia. This celebration of bilingual literacy was started by author Pat Mora and I've been a big supporter of it since its inception fifteen years ago. The book explores ways libraries and educators can provide bilingual programming and encourage multiculturalism. 

They are lovely books, Jeanette. I’m sure you are very proud of them.

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.

Dead End in Novelt by Jack Gantos. I have told Jack that he is responsible for me being a children's librarian because while I was working at Anaheim Public Library I used his Rotten Ralph books in storytimes. I had every intention of being a reference librarian but fell in love with children's literature thanks to Jack. His personality and sense of humor and the absurdity of our lives comes through in everything he writes.

Last Dog on the Hill by Steve Duno. I read a lot of non-fiction and am a big animal lover. Duno describes Lou, a dog he rescued from the side of the road, as a one in a million dog. I laughed and cried as I read about how Duno, with no previous experience as a dog trainer, worked with Lou and then how Lou worked with troubled kids, Alzheimer's patients, and other dogs. I talked about this book for weeks after I read it and finally passed it on to a friend.

A Spy in the House by Y. S. Lee. Mysteries have always been my reading passion and I love that this story features a young girl of Chinese-British heritage, living in Victorian England who literally escapes from the gallows to become an accomplished spy and investigator. One of my soapboxes is that so few mysteries for children and young adults feature any diversity; the heroes are either Anglo or animal in most cases. Lee has written one of the best introductory chapters I've read in a long time. 'Nuf said...no spoilers from me.

  • Top 3 leisure activities.
           
            Reading, of course. I usually am reading two or three books at a time, although sometimes I am reading with my ears. I love listening to audiobooks. Give me a good audiobook and I'll drive anywhere!

            Counted cross-stitch. I started doing this craft when I was on ALA/ALSC's Notable Children's Recordings committee in 1983. We would sit in a room for hours listening to recordings so each committee member had a craft to keep your fingers busy.

            Traveling. My husband and I love to travel and whenever possible we take our dogs, Indigo and Daisy, with us. My dream is to make it to Antarctica, at which time I will have stepped foot on every one of the continents.

  • Top 3 professions you wanted to be when you grew up.
    • Detective
I think this came from my voracious reading of Nancy Drew and other mysteries
    • Teacher
My parents were both teachers and I played "little school house" with my brothers, teaching them to read.
    • Actress
I was in drama during middle school.

Interestingly, I think these three professions melded when I became a librarian. I use detective skills to do research, I teach when I help young people find the information they need, and I use dramatic talents whenever I tell stories or speak to groups.


Your book suggestions sound great. And I love how your desired professions melded into librarian. That’s awesome!

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

My website is www.jeanettelarson.com and my email is jeanette@jeanettelarson.com. On Twitter I am @jeanettelarson and on Facebook I'm http://facebook.com/jeanette.larson.

I blog for ALSC, the Association for Library Services to Children, a division of the American Library Association, http://www.alsc.ala.org/blog/, and for the Texas Sweethearts and Scoundrels, my writing group, http://texassweethearts.blogspot.com/. I also just joined ReaderKidz, http://www.readerkidz.com/2010/07/27/welcome-to-readerkidz/.

Jeanette, it’s been so much fun chatting with you. I hope my readers rush over to your website to learn more about you. Thank you for joining us and Happy Thanksgiving!

THANKS!

November 22, 2011

My Daily Grateful - BOOK CONTRACTS

Today I am so very, very grateful for and terrifically excited about book contracts. Because I recently SIGNED ONE!!!

I am thrilled to announce that I’ve sold my middle grade novel, SAVE THE LEMMINGS! to Featherweight Press. A publisher of children’s and young adult fiction.

When Natalie’s Texty-Talky invention makes her an overnight sensation, the media digs until they find a way to smear her goody-goody image. When her best friends start believing what they read, Natalie’s sunny spirit is pushed to its limits. How will Natalie stop the lies and win her friends back? And who will SAVE THE LEMMINGS?

Look for publication in 2012. Stay dialed in by liking my author page on Facebook. Kai Strand, Author.

Remember I love my blog followers as much as I love book contracts. Be sure to sign up for my Gratitude Giveaway. You can say you knew me when.
 

November 21, 2011

My Daily Grateful - Hair

This may seem random, but hopefully you will understand why I consider this important enough to mention by the time I’m finished.

When I was young I had long hair. My mom used to put it in pigtails and tie a different color yarn bow around each one. The fat yarn that made strong bows. The colors always coordinated with my outfit. Then I got to “that” age where I didn’t care to take care of my hair. That age lasts a long, long time and I had short hair all those years. People would mistake me for a boy, which was sad after about age 12 since I’m also…um…curvy. By the time I figured out that I could take control of my hairy destiny, I’d lost all love of short hair. ALL love. I’ve had long or longish hair since. At some point two things happened. 1.) I realized how fast my hair grows, 6 inches per year. 2.) I realized there are little kids out there who need hair.

As soon as I learned that there were children who had to go through life bald due to no fault of their own…I started donating.  In two years I can get a 10 inch ponytail. In three at least a 16 inch tail. I love the thought of a child running around with my hair bouncing on their head. I know it isn’t only my hair. They use several donations to make a wig. But I’ve always loved my hair. It is shiny, strong, a pretty mix of colors and plentiful. Why not share it with someone who needs it more?

I’m happy to say I’ve donated (at least) more than four feet of hair over the years. But, I think this might be my last donation. My hair isn’t as shiny as it used to be. It is getting frizzier and I’m finally starting to find gray hairs (though my beautiful 12 yr old daughter thinks they are pretty because they are silver and sparkly.) Besides the fact, um, maybe a woman my age shouldn’t sit on her hair.

However, I’m trying to find the patience to do one final super grow. The epic to-the-butt grow. It’s challenging. It gets in the way. Rolls up with the seatbelt. Gets closed into the car door. Gets awkwardly trapped in my underarm. I’m shedding all over everything. I see pictures of myself and I have to just look away. Yet, I have a goal.

TO THE BUTT! Because some kid, who can’t grow hair on their own by no fault of their own will one day style it and wash it and LOVE it and it will make such a huge difference in their life to not have to worry about being teased any more. Because of my hair, we may have our first female president or a genetic cure for breast cancer.  Doesn’t every child deserve the opportunity to realize their full potential?

Today, my hair may be driving me batty. But I’m really, really thankful that I can grow it to give it away.

I’m grateful for my hairy and not so hairy blog followers too! Don’t forget to enter my Gratitude Giveaway. And if you have the hair capacity, donate!

Jan Britland presents Rodger Dodger Dog


World of Ink virtual book tour stops into Strands of Thought this week to introduce us to picture book author, Jan Britland.  Let’s learn more about Jan.

Jan Britland is an author and artist. She lives in Punta Gorda, Florida with her husband Bill. They have a bulldog named Madison, a parrot named Lola, three red-eared slider turtles named Sparky, Luigi and hale. And last but not least Goldie a pond fish. All of whom are portrayed in her stories. When she is not writing Children's books, she teaches oil painting to adults. You can reach Jan through her website, www.rodgerdodgerdog.com

Jan currently has four Rodger Dodger Dog books published:





The Adventures of Rodger Dodger Dog is a three story book following the adorable Rodger Dodger Dog as he meets a new friend, saves a stranded fish and battles the dreaded flea. Written in rhyme with action packed illustrations it is sure to delight your child.






The Adventures of Rodger Dodger Dog, Rodger Meets Dr. Glee. Rodger Dodger Dog wakes up one day not feeling well at all. His tongue feels very large and his head feels very small. Find out what is wrong with Rodger and how his friends help him get well.






The Adventures of Rodger Dodger Dog, Rodger Saves Bunny. Rodger finds Bunny passed out in the woods. He takes him home and nurses him back to health only to find out Bunny is terrified of him. What Rodger finds out from Bunny is a surprise even Rodger didn't see coming!





The Adventures of Rodger Dodger Dog, A Christmas Story. Rodger and his pals put up their first Christmas tree. After decorating it with handmade ornaments and exchanging gifts on Christmas morning they come to realize that of all the gifts you can get Friends and Family are the Best


Kai: What age range is your books for?

Jan:  pre-school to first grade

Kai: Can you share a memory of yours or a story of you from when you were that age?

Jan:  Back when I was in first grade westerns were the rage and we used to play cowboys and Indians running around our block.  This was in the fifties.  The Wonder Bread representative would come to our school and we each got a mini-loaf of Wonder Bread.  It was so special I never wanted to open it up.  I wanted it to last forever.  The Weiner mobile would come to our school and we would all get a Weiner whistle.  But the best of all was the Duncan Yoyo person.  He would do the most amazing tricks with the Yoyo.

Kai: Fun! The Weiner mobile visited my town a couple of weeks ago. Still giving out whistles. Jan, how has life changed for children today than when you were that age?

Jan:  We had to entertain ourselves by reading a book, playing board games, or outside running around.  It was a big thing to get a new toy.  We didn’t have TV until I was 7 years old.  Now the children have all sorts of electronics, TV’s in their rooms, computers and Wii’s.  I think things go faster today.  The children today are much more advanced than we were.  We also were more innocent as children.  We never dreamed there would be a man on the moon.  We have come a long way.  We have lost some things yes, but we have gained so much more.

Kai: How is life still the same?

Jan:    Children still do all the things we did but now they have more options. 

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

Jan:  I had a red wagon and all of the neighborhood children would take turns pulling each other through the neighborhood.  It was wonderful.

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

Jan:  As I drove my children to school we would pass a beagle dog chained to a tree.  Some days he was up in the tree.  I started to make up stories about his adventures up in the tree and beyond.  I started calling him Rodger Dodger Dog.  I am dyslexic and I rhymed the stories so I could remember them from day to day.  When my daughter had children of her own she asked me to write down the stories she loved to hear as a child for her children.  They are The Adventures of Rodger Dodger Dog.  They are written in rhyme with action-packed colorful illustrations children love. 

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 the Rodger Dodger Dog Series?

Jan: All four books of course, and an autographed picture of Rodger Dodger Dog.  Children love the Rodger Dodger Dog tee shirt. I would also include the dog, cat and bunny wood cutouts from Michaels Arts and Crafts. They are the perfect shape for Rodger Dodger Dog, Mack the Cat and Bunny.  Some acrylic paints to paint them and last but not least some stickers of Rodger Dodger Dog and all his pals.

Thank you for inviting me on your blog. 
Jan Britland

The Adventures of Rodger Dodger Dog, 1st book trailer
Thank you, Jan, for visiting today.  Readers, be sure to visit her website for more information about the Rodger Dodger Dog book series and follow her on her WOI book tour!

November 20, 2011

My Daily Grateful - Mother Nature

Grand Tetons, WY
I’m a bit of a Mother Nature junkie and I’m blessed to live in an area of this beautiful country where I can satisfy my craving for fresh air and beauty whenever the spirit moves me.

In all honesty, I prefer to explore Mama Nat spring through fall, but even winter holds enticing situations for me. I walk a lot for exercise. My favorite conditions to walk in, by far, is when it is 32 degrees outside and snowing. The temperature is cool enough to lure you into pushing yourself harder because you don’t feel hot and sweaty, nor are your lungs burning from frigid, ice pick air. Not blowing snow, but that peaceful snow that floats straight down and muffles the sound of your footsteps until the world seems still and quiet, the only sound your heavy breathing.

Canoeing Elk Lake






The remainder of the year I love to explore mountains, deserts, rivers, lakes, meadows, tide pools, sand dunes, and forests. It never gets old. I love to tour by foot, by car, by canoe. 


Crater Lake



I stop to gape at mushrooms powering their way through the forest debris or sunrays misting through the treetops.  



Tumalo Falls




I breath deep the spicy scent of manzanita or lean my warm cheeks over the refreshing vapors of a waterfall.




Sahalie Falls


I snap pictures of wildflowers and underbrush and dead wood choked with new life.


Sometimes I feel like I’m intruding when I step through the forest, but then I remember we are part of this big, beautiful nature. I’m thankful I have the ability to appreciate it and to spend so much time exploring it.

Don’t forget to appreciate my Gratitude Giveaways post. You can find the details here. Take some time to explore the hundreds of links to increase your chance of winning.




November 19, 2011

My Daily Grateful - Freedom

picture by Nancy Burton
I am fiercely patriotic. I love our country and democracy. Silly things stoke my patriotism. Like, how our youth gather at midnight movies, such a display of passion and security. Black Friday. Even though I never participate, I love that it epitomizes our free trade economy. Big things flare my loyalty. September 11th. Well, there’s nothing bigger than that.

I have America The Beautiful and The Star Spangled Banner on my ipod. We fly the flag every day of the year (weather permitting). Tears well every time I see that commercial where the soldier receives a recorded book from his child.
I may not always support my President’s policies, I may not always agree with a military action or a political movement of the people or a decision of the Supreme Court. But I always respect the individual persons behind all of it, because they are my fellow Americans who live free alongside me and who are equally responsible for the stewardship of this great country.

My husband gave me a diamond ring when we were married. I didn’t pay for it. I didn’t work for it. I didn’t earn it. But that doesn’t mean I will neglect its care. I didn’t fight for our country. I didn’t earn my freedom. But I won’t fail to respect the privilege of living in a country where freedom has been handed through the generations. Where other brave souls fight to protect it. 

I love this country. I'm thankful to live here.

I also love my blog followers. Remember to visit my Gratitude Giveaways post to enter to win one of two signed books.



November 18, 2011

My Daily Grateful - Education

I’m taking advantage of the Gratitude Giveaways Hop to share with you the things that I am thankful for. Today’s gratitude is education.

Our public education system may not be fool proof, but it is a nationwide system that allows each child access to an education. It is chockfull of caring educators and administrators, often underpaid and under supported, who have the student’s education as their primary goal.

I am grateful that there was never a question whether or not I would learn to read. I am thankful that I was raised in a household that valued education and therefore supported my efforts, encouraged my advancement and challenged me to learn even more. It is always good to strive for better, but be sure to be thankful for what is provided.

Also be sure to visit my Gratitude Giveaways post and enter to win one of two signed books. Have you already read The Weaver? Then if you win, give your winnings as a gift to a child, gift it to a teacher’s classroom library, donate it to a library, or encourage literacy this holiday season by donating to a local literacy non-profit.

November 16, 2011

Gratitude Giveaways Hop November 17 - 27

Welcome to the Gratitude Giveaways hosted by I'm a Reader Not a Writer and All Consuming Books. I’m so excited to be kicking off my portion of the Grateful Giveaway Hop! This is my opportunity to say THANK YOU for supporting my blog. 

There will be two winners in my Grateful Giveaway. Each winner will win one signed copy of The Weaver, personalized to whomever you deem worthy. If you have a shipping address in the U.S., then all you need to do to qualify is make sure you are following this blog through Google friend connect and then leave a comment on this post telling me something you are grateful for. Be sure your email address is easy to find, either in your message or in your profile, so I can contact you if you win. If I can’t easily find it within a click or two, then I’ll redraw.

The giveaway is open through November 27th (my sister’s birthday, someone I’m grateful for). I will contact the winners on the 28th and announce them on the blog as soon as they are confirmed.

Be sure to visit the other blogs participating in the Grateful Giveaway Hop.

Three Times A Charm with Sharon Pavon

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

This week author Sharon Pavon joins us to talk about her writing career. 

Welcome, Sharon. Tell us a little about yourself.

Once upon a time I taught pre-school. I owned a child development center for many years, worked as a real estate agent, bookseller, and sold cemetery lots (lasted a week at that position). Currently, I own a small business in Tennessee and write middle grade fiction.

Cemetary lots - that’s awesome. Can you tell us more about the middle grade fiction? What projects have you perfected?

GODS OF DELIPIE is about what happens when reality gets in the way of what we want. It’s also about being in that awkward place of wanting to be a child when other people think it’s time for you to grow up. There are two main characters. Gardenia, who is like spit and vinegar, and Carla, who is having a bit of an identity crisis.

 I’ve recently finished my little bundle of weirdness, PARADISE CROSSED. It straddles two worlds, modern day Philadelphia and a parallel world called Paradise. It has everything from telepathic sharks, the hostile elderly, and Greek Gods to a mysterious person who is plotting to destroy Paradise. After being stranded in Paradise, Micah and his friend, Carson, must work through their differences and solve the mystery in order to get back home. 

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.

The ones that come instantly to mind:

The Boneshaker by Kate Milford. Her writing is beautifully poetic and her storytelling so rich. It reminded me a little of Something Wicked This Way Comes. Really impressive.

The Help by Kathryn Stockett was raw and powerful. It made me laugh and broke my heart, sometimes at the same time. I read somewhere that over a hundred agents passed on it. If I were an agent and had gotten that manuscript, I would have broken my neck trying to get to the phone to call her the minute I finished. How could that many people not see what was fabulous about it? 

Also, this summer I fell in love with Newbery winner, Moon Over Manifest by Clare Vanderpool and its colorful array of characters. 
 
Top 3 skills to hone for people just starting in your business.

1) A thick skin. Without one, it’s going to be difficult. I am developing a suit of armor for writers. It’s called The Inflated Ego Cloak of Invincibility. *I am of course lying and ripping off Harry Potter* But I wish it were so. Truth is that most extremely talented writers I know are genuinely humble and insecure about their writing.

2) Develop Patience. Unfortunately, I don’t have any but I can play a patient person on T.V. You will do tons of waiting around for things to happen. Most of the time things won’t happen. It’s better to focus on what you have control over, your writing and believing what you’re doing has merit. Otherwise, you’re going to be miserable.

3) Read as much as you can. Read books about writing. Anne Lamott’s Bird by Bird will set you free. Read books by other writers in your genre. Read for fun. Then do your own thing.


Top 3 songs on your play list.

Soul Meets Body by Death Cab For Cutie,
Set the Fire to the Third Bar by Snow Patrol,
and Four by Miles Davis.

Where can our readers find out more about you and your work?

If you’d like to follow me on twitter, I’m @SharonPavon.

Thank you, Sharon, for visiting with us today. Best of luck with your projects, they sound fantastic.

THANKS!