December 29, 2011

Book Club, Word Search & Craft - Oh My!

I know enough technology to get myself in trouble. So I usually do what I need to get by and refrain from going further for fear of breaking something.

Alas, I knew I needed to figure out how to do some value-add on my website, but I had all sorts of excuses. Mostly, not enough time. Then I was laid off. Suddenly time was no longer an issue and the only excuse I had left was ignorance. Yeah, I hate that one. So I finally sat down and figured it out!

Now my website and most importantly, The Weaver, has some value-add. What kind you ask?

Book club value. Does your child participate in a book club? If they choose The Weaver as their read, you can download some suggested talking points to get the after-the-read conversation going. I even have a sheet for the book club administrator that offers some “answers” to keep the conversation going.

Hidden word search. This search is geared for the 9-year-old (and up) reader, so the words might be found forward, backward and diagonally. The reader can revisit the characters and theme of the book as they search for the words. Then they can find extra “accidental” words and add those to the list.

Craft. Is your child having a birthday party? Give The Weaver as the party favor and to get partygoers in the mood to read the book when they get home, do a craft together. The craft provides step-by-step instructions on how to make a web charm. You can even make it an opalescent web, like in the book, by adding glitter.

You will find the downloads and can read more about The Weaver here. Then be sure to send me a picture of your book club or birthday party with The Weaver and I’ll add the picture to my Weaver in the Wild photo album on my facebook page.

Happy reading.

December 21, 2011

Three Times A Charm with Jo Ramsey

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 Jo Ramsey. Jo, tell us about yourself.

When I was two and a half, I learned to read. That’s where this whole thing started. I began to make up stories, and I knew I wanted to see my stories in books like the ones I was reading. The problem was, no one would teach me how to make letters.
In kindergarten, that problem was resolved, and I started writing down my stories. The first story I ever wrote, when I was five, was about a girl named Maria who went to live with her uncle. After that, I barely stopped writing. I wrote my first YA-novel-length manuscript when I was twelve, and I have a filing drawer full of spiral notebooks that contain all the stories I wrote through middle school, high school, and college.
When I was in my late 30’s, I finally was published. My first YA novel, Connection, was released in January 2010, and since then seven others have been released.
I live in Massachusetts with my two daughters, my husband, and two cats.

Reading at 2 and writing at 5. That’s amazing. What a story of persistence and passion, Jo! Tell us about your latest pojects.

The fifth book in my young adult urban fantasy series Reality Shift was released November 17. Reality Shift is about two teenagers, Jonah Leighton and Shanna Bailey, who use skills such as energy healing and channeling to fight demons, send malevolent dead spirits to the other side, and prevent the universe from being vaporized. In book five, From the Ashes, Shanna is adjusting to life in her foster home, and is thankful she has Jonah and her foster brother, Mark James, to help her cope with the changes in her life. When a substitute teacher slaps a student in Shanna’s gym class, and then turns up working as a psychic reader at a New Age store in their town, Shanna and Jonah realize that the universe is again at risk and have to persuade the reader to let them help her—after they persuade her to tell the truth about herself. From the Ashes, as well as books one through four in the series, are available from Jupiter Gardens Press, http://www.jupitergardens.com.

Also in November, my first young adult contemporary novel, Cluing In, was released. Jamey Mandel is the one his friends go to for help and advice, so it shouldn’t surprise him when his ex-girlfriend Tina Kane asks him for help. The problem is, he broke up with Tina because she was pressuring him for sex, and now she’s pregnant by her new boyfriend. Jamey doesn’t want to get involved. However, when he learns that Tina has taken her own life, he wishes he had supported her, or at least had told someone she needed help. Cluing In is available from Featherweight Press, http://www.featherweightpublishing.com.

Hooray for featherweight! I was so excited to see that we are both birds of a feather. (Corny, sorry.)

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.      Proofreading. You have to be able to read your own manuscript and make corrections, whether or not anyone else sees it before you submit.
2.      Accepting criticism. It isn’t personal, it’s about your writing, and if you listen and take suggestions it will only improve your craft.
3.      Writing. Having ideas is easy; putting them on the page, in a way that makes sense to your reader and holds their attention, is harder. It takes time, it takes work, but it’s worth it when you’re finally able to hold your book in your hands.

  • Top 3 pieces of advice for kids these days.
1.      Don’t grow up too fast. You’re a kid; be one. Take time to learn about life and about the opportunities that exist for you before you have to be responsible. Take time to have fun and be playful; you won’t always be a kid, and believe me, if you don’t let yourself be one now you might regret it when you’re old like me.
2.      Be kind to each other. Why do you have to rag on the girl next to you about her clothes, or snipe at the guy in your gym class because he isn’t “macho” enough? It doesn’t hurt you to be nice to them, or at least ignore them if you can’t be nice.
3.      Be kind to yourself. You are important. You are special, and you’re beautiful (yeah, even if you’re a guy). When you start to feel bad about yourself, take a few minutes to write down some of the awesome things about you.

Great advice!

  • Top 3 professions you wanted to be when you grew up.
1.      An author. That seems to have worked out pretty well, even though it took me a long time to get here.
2.      A teacher, preferably a special education teacher. I was one for several years; I have a degree in special education, and was one class away from a double major in elementary education. I stopped teaching full-time and switched to either working as a teacher’s aide or a substitute when my kids were younger because they were both struggling and needed me more than the schools did, and since I moved to Massachusetts I’ve developed health problems that keep me from being able to stand up for long stretches of time; I can’t teach without being on my feet. It’s physically impossible for me. So I gave up working in schools, except for occasional school visits.
3.      A singer. I wrote songs in high school, and some of them were pretty good. I could even sing on key most of the time. But I didn’t have the confidence to pursue this dream, so it never happened. Occasionally my song lyrics show up in my stories, though.

Jo, where can our readers learn more about you and stay informed of new releases?

Website: http://www.joramsey.com (my blog is part of the site)
Twitter: @JoRamseyYA

It has been great visiting with you, Jo! Thanks for stopping in and sharing your books and advice with us. Best of luck with your new releases.

THANKS!

December 18, 2011

Let's Be Friends!

Now and again I like to share a recap of my social media outlets. I’m thankful to all of you who read my posts. Welcome to the newbies who’ve been around less than a few months. If you are also on these sites, I’d love to friend, follow, like you there as well.


And of course my website: http://www.kaistrand.com/ which info and fun downloads and fun stuff like that. Please visit.

December 14, 2011

Three Times A Charm with Kim Cormack

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 the talented author, Kim Cormack. Kim tell us about yourself.
After more than 15 years as an Early Childhood educator I published my first children’s book ‘Shark Boots’ in May of 2010. My second book, "Being Four" is out now.

I live on Vancouver Island with my two awesome children (Jenna and Cameron)
I have to date written eight hilarious books for children.
Titles include: Being Four, Shark Boots, and Stuff about My Mom. Heaven Smiled on Me, Tigergators do, The Boogie Man Can, The Snowman Ate My Taco, and Freckles on His Nose and Wiggles In his Toes.

I have written many poems, short stories, and songs for children that are meant to delight the hearts and funny bones of both parents and children.
I also write books for mommies and daddies to Teen/Adult,”Sweet Sleep,” and Teen/Adult “The Hot Chick Diaries.”
You sound very busy. Tell us about your children’s books.
About the Book

Remember when every day was an adventure and the world was your playground?
Embrace the joys of childhood in the exciting new children’s book Being Four.

I wrote this book about my son, Cameron, detailing his hilarious and mischievous adventures just as he was turning 4 years old. The beach scenes were photographed at Rathtrever Beach on Vancouver Island, British Columbia. I totally believe that its one of the most beautiful places on the planet.

“Maybe I was just longing for the blissful simplicity of life as a child when I wrote this book. How your emotions were sitting on your sleeve. You were happy because something wonderful had happened. You were sad when somebody hurt you and there was never a reason to hide your true feelings.”

I typed this whole book into my cell phone at 2:30 in the morning, January 28th 2009 after having a dream about being very small, and holding a baby chick. I remembered so clearly that feeling of being so happy that I felt like my heart might burst because it was so full of love. This book takes a walk through the simple moments of joy that we sometimes forget to embrace and feel the beauty that parents and children can remember and relate to together.


 

Shark Boots is actually a somewhat true story. My five year old spent about six months living in these Shark Boots, and blaming everything naughty he did on his boots.
 My son Cameron has been the biggest inspiration to my writing. Sometimes you just have to laugh about the things they do and say. You need to take a moment and remember how much you will miss all these quirky shenanigans when they are all grown up. Writing about it helps because you can step back for a second and realize how truly funny the events of the day actually were. Your innocent flower has an incredible imagination. Love him even more for it, because you never know, it could be one of his greatest gifts.


As a special treat for your blog readers have a sneak preview of,”Freckles on his nose and wiggles in his toes” right here. Follow this link below into kimcormack.com.

Now, for the Threes. Share with us your top 3’s to help us know you a little better.
Okay question and answer time then, and friends please be forwarned my sense of humor is very strange. I find its really best to up front add the I’m a giant dork disclaimer to my interviews.
The top three skills to hone when starting out in this business - now that is an easy one.
Get a thick skin pretend you are in junior high and not only can you not let yourself be offended when someone doesn’t notice you . You have to try to not be offended when they are not interested at all.
You know your giggling a little but its the truth. Every artist believes that thier work is amazing remember that your biggest allies are the other artists, authors, and bloggers that you befriend.  My advice is to pay it forward help everyone you can. Knowing in your heart that one day if you keep plugging away it will be your turn.
My top three advice for kids number one Do not sweat the small stuff things that seem so big when you are a child or a teen really are just small bumps in the road.
You can make it through anything even the most horrific of worst case scenarios by breathing in and breathing out and putting one foot in front of the other until it gets easier to handle.
Time really does heal even the wounds that you thought were unhealable wounds.
(Oh, Kim, that’s a good one!)
“The future belongs to thoughs who believe in the beauty of their dreams.”
 Eleanor Roosevelt
“Do one thing everyday that scares you.”
 Eleanor Roosevelt    
my two favorite quotes and words to live by.
My three favorite snacks  while working are, a cup of earl grey green tea which is usually made when I start working and then cold half an hour later when I realise I forgot to drink it and have lunch ;) I usually completely forget to eat when I’m writing.
When I’m stressed out its a glass of red wine, swedish berries  and natchoes in any order. Actually I could go for some natchoes right now... yummy.
I love Robert Munsch his work is awesome I love to be entertained as an adult and laughing as I’m reading stories to my children.
I loved Judy Blume growing up but there are too many to list just three favorites. Do not even get me started on all of the wonderful authoers out there. Its a great time to be a reader.
I love the info on Mashable http://mashable.com/  thats one of my favorite blogs ,and  Her Media http://her-media.com/  one of my best buddies runs this site.
 http://www.kimcormack.com  I love this one no idea who runs it at all ... joking it’s me.
As for the three things I wanted to be when I grew up if I remember correctly there was, a ballerina, a veterinarian, a writer and a singer.
I ended up a mom who writes and can sing but most of the time in the shower or the car. Singing in the car and shower I mean, not writing because that would be tricky. I am also quite certain that stores frown upon you trying to bring a laptop back after saying,” it’s just that I love to write in the shower.”
Kim, where can our readers find more about you, your books and your writing?
Well for more strange and funny moments with me visit me on http://www.kimcormack.com.
http://twitter.com/#!/kimcormack  my Twitter account
 http://kimcormack.blogspot.com/p/being-four.html follow this link or http://www.beingfour.com in for purchasing info for,” Being Four.”

 purchasing info on my book,”Shark Boots.”
Stay tuned to Twitter, my author page on facebook and my blog for new releases and contest info.
May you always see the rainbows in the bubbles in your bathtub.
-Kim Cormack
Check out my blog http://www.kimcormack.com for all of the up to date information on release dates for books.

COMING IN 2012 TEEN/ADULT THRILLER, "SWEET SLEEP"
Who will survive you must choose a side
Shark boots By Kim Cormack
Buy it here http://www.amazon.com/Shark-Boots-wasnt-mommy-Boots/dp/1460967127/ref=sr_1_2?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1316205394&sr=1-2
Shark Boots
It wasn't me mommy it was my Shark Boots.
Authored by Kim Cormack
Illustrated by Kim Cormack, Dorian Beaulieu

December 12, 2011

Medicine Head Writing

Do you ever get so hungry that when you open the refrigerator door, you can only stare because nothing sounds good enough or fast enough? When you take inventory of the pantry contents you simply sigh, close the door and go back to what you were doing.

That is the state of my writing appetite right now. I’ve opened the refrigerator door and found there are so many ideas I can’t decide on one I want to work on. I’m so hungry that middle grade sounds too light, as though it won’t fill me up. Young adult sounds too salty, or greasy, maybe even bitter. A short story would leave me unsatisfied, but a novel takes too long to reach that sated state. I’m not in the mood for humor or heavy emotion. I want to start a new story, but don’t want to abandon the WIPs.

I’ve forced myself to work on a WIP even though I’m “not in the mood” for it. The work is probably acceptable, but I felt rather disjointed and unattached from the writing while I was putting it down. Almost like the medicine head feeling you get when you’re on antihistamines.

Have you ever felt so dissatisfied by your writing options that you found yourself stuck? What did you do to break through?

December 9, 2011

Recents

I haven’t posted my recents in a couple months. Granted, not one person has sent me an email and said, “Why haven’t you posted?” Maybe I’ll drop it in January, but for now it’s time to play catch up. I’m posting them grouped together by rating.

Just when I think it is safe to wade into the waters of self publishing, I get one with amateur writing that is so horribly edited that I have to stop reading it. I rarely stop reading. I have not listed it on my recents and I won’t name it out of respect for the author. But I find it sad that somewhere along the way no one told her the book wasn’t there yet. I did some research. She had an editor. Though not a good one in my opinion. I don’t understand the good reviews. She’s released another in the series, which probably would be a good series if she’d taken more time. Why don’t some readers care if the writing is amateurish and there are missing words and one awkward sentence after another? Why? I’m glad there is more and more good, strong self publishing to make up for it, but this kind of stuff will tarnish the hard work of others. I don’t have a personal relationship with this author, don’t know her from Adam. So if I send her an email that says, “I find your writing needs development” I feel she won’t take it seriously, that she’ll be on the defensive. What do you think? Would you contact that author? Would you give a poor rating to the book to publicly warn other readers off so they don’t waste their time and money like I did? Such a quandary.

Recent Reads





Anna and the French Kiss by Stephanie Perkins – humble rating: Motivational Speaker – I started grinning on the first page and never stopped. Still grin when I think of this charming story.









BESTEST. RAMADAN. EVER by Medeia Sharif – humble rating: Golf Clap++ – I loved the voice of the main character, Almira. It reminded me so much of my bestest friend when we were in high school. Medeia was spot on with the tone and thoughts of a high schooler and I really enjoyed the exposure to the Muslim religion, especially as it fits in a modern American culture. Really well done.







Fury of the Phoenix by Cindy Pon - humble rating: Golf Clap++ – Cindy Pon is a beautiful writer, especially food, does she have a food blog? Because she should.




Open Minds by Susan Kaye Quinn - humble rating: Golf Clap++ – This story felt very original to me. Well paced, good drama and enough romantic element to pull us along. Susan Kaye Quinn self published this. I don’t understand why this wasn’t sold to a publisher. I truly don’t. These book has all the elements of good young adult fiction with an original concept. Read it!









Real Mermaids Don’t Wear Toe Rings by Helene Boudreau - humble rating: Golf Clap+ – Cute story. The beginning pulls you in immediately.








The Goddess Test by Aimee Carter - humble rating: Golf Clap – I’m in two minds about how much I liked this story. Good writing. Characters were engaging enough, though some of the relationships were confusing. In the end though, I didn’t feel it was original enough to stand out.









Ten Rules For Living With My Sister by Ann M. Martin – humble rating: Golf Clap – Really enjoyed the nine year old m.c.’s voice. Felt very authentic to me. Also liked how Martin treated the difficulty of grandfather’s memory loss and confusion. Passing this on to a sweet ten year old I know, I think she’ll like Pearl. 







Anathema by Meg Jensen - humble rating: Golf Clap – The story was good. Well written.












Forget-Her-Nots by Amy Brecount White - humble rating: Golf Clap –Entertaining.

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.

December 7, 2011

Three Times A Charm with Karen Bass

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

This week author Karen Bass joins us to talk about her passion: Star Wars, or maybe writing.

Karen, tell us a little about yourself.

I was born a long time ago in a galaxy far, far away … Okay. Not quite, but I did hone some of my writing skills penning Star Wars fan fiction. What I am is a first generation Albertan, which means nothing to my U.S. friends but trust me when I say it’s a rarity since most people have moved to Alberta (a Canadian province) from somewhere else. Like Luke Skywalker, I was raised on a farm and wanted to be a whole lot of things growing up, but never a writer. It wasn’t until I went to work at the local library that the urge to write fiction took hold. Perhaps not all that surprising since I’ve always been an avid reader.

Once I’d started, writing became almost an obsession. Now I can’t imagine a future without it. My first YA novel, Run Like Jรคger, was published in 2008, followed by Summer of Fire in 2009 and Drummer Girl this fall. After sixteen years, I left my library job this spring and am now a full-time writer. Someday I might even make a living from it, but until then my “patron of the arts” (aka my hubby) is willing to support me as I pursue my dream.

I’ve got a patron of the arts also. Also known as a shlepper.  Every author needs a support system.

Congratulations on your books, Karen. Tell us more about your most recent book, Drummer Girl.

I’m really excited about my latest novel, Drummer Girl. It has already garnered good reviews from Kirkus and Booklist, plus a few book-reviewing bloggers. It’s off to a great start and I can only hope it continues to rock its little corner of YA lit, and few other corners as well. Isn’t that what any writer hopes for his or her new book?

Drummer Girl is the story of 15-year-old Sidney who desperately wants to be a drummer in a rock band. How far is Sid willing to go, and what will she do to get what she wants? The story tackles the issues of peer pressure, identity & image, in a fast-paced, enjoyable read.

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

1.  Top 3 snacks to munch on while working: (Does coffee count as a snack? Because I almost always have a cup on the go, though if I’m really caught up in my writing it tends to get cold.)
            1. Bowl of raw almonds and dried cranberries. This is what I reach for when I’m feeling conscientious about eating healthy, though I really do like this mix.
            2. Dark chocolate. I buy oversized bars, then only take one row as my snack. I’m sure dark chocolate stimulates the imagination.
            3. Hawkins Cheezies. Apparently this snack is only available in Canada. I truly feel sorry for my American friends because Cheezies beats all those Cheetos snacks hands down. I have to limit myself to little Halloween-sized treat bags because they are so very addictive.

2. Top 3 professions you wanted to be when you grew up.
            1.  Steam Engine Operator. Okay, so this isn’t exactly a profession in the strictest sense, but my grandfather had a working steam engine that he fired up once a year (on July 1st, Canada Day), and I seriously thought about getting my boiler engineer papers so I could drive it. I loved riding on it with him and getting to blow the whistle.
            2. Veterinarian. Maybe this is a career most kids raised on farms consider at some time or another. Living around and loving animals makes it a natural fit, but though I did fine in biology classes all those Latin names scared me away from any kind of medical science.
            3. Artist. I did apply to a fine arts university program but didn’t get accepted, and I did paint for many years, right up until I got serious about writing. I was a decent watercolourist but not quite good enough (in my opinion) to be a pro. Anyway, it seems I only have enough energy for one artistic endeavour at a time so writing is it.

3. Top 3 authors (this is an impossible question for an avid reader but I’ll list three whose latest books I never miss reading, and I’ll stick to YA writers even though there are many adult writers I also enjoy):
            1. Laurie Halse Anderson – I adore pretty much everything Laurie has written. Wintergirls was almost too hard to read, not because it wasn’t brilliantly written (it was) but because it was such a gut-wrenching story. My favourite story is probably Twisted, with Forge coming in a close second. If I were granted a wish to write like someone other than myself, it would be Laurie.
            2. Arthur Slade – When I worked in the local library, I was always the first patron to check out Art’s newest book. (One of the perks of working there.) He’s a Canadian author, so American readers might not know him, but hunt down his books (many available in the U.S.) because he tells a fantastic story. Lately he’s into steampunk, lots of high octane adventure. He’s won awards galore in Canada and deserves them all. If you’re looking for great reads for boys, his books are a fine starting point.
            3. Janni Lee Simner – I think Janni is one of the most under-appreciated writers out there. Her prose is exceptional and lyrical, and she tells a riveting story. I love everything about Secret of the Three Treasures (except, perhaps, for the title, which was the publisher’s choice, not hers) – it’s written for upper elementary but adults will also adore the quirky main character,Tiernay. For writers this book is a superb example of a book written in the first person with a unique and captivating voice, something difficult to achieve. And for what it’s worth, I think Janni’s YA fantasy, Bones of Faerie, is the best apocalyptic story in the genre I’ve read.


Great recs. Thanks for sharing them, Karen. Where can our readers find out more about you and your work?

Website: www.karenbass.ca
Twitter: http://twitter.com/karenbassYA
Facebook: www.facebook.com/karenbassYA
Goodreads: www.goodreads.com/author/show/1370935.Karen_Bass

Karen was kind enough to teach me some Canadian. I already have the accent, so I should know the language, eh? 

Thanks for stopping in and visiting us on Strands of Thought. It was so much fun getting to know you.

THANKS