October 30, 2013

Three Times A Charm with Gia Volterra de Saulnier

Welcome to Three Times A Charm. I love meeting new authors, illustrators, bloggers, agents, editors or promoters from the children’s publishing industry and sharing their careers with my readers.

Today’s guest is children’s author, Gia Volterra de Saulnier. Welcome to Strands of Thought, Gia! Can you tell us a little about you, please?

I was born and raised in Fairhaven, Massachusetts and attended University of Lowell (now University of Massachusetts, Lowell). It was there that I learned to love jazz. 
I have been performing jazz and other kinds of music for over 20 years, throughout the New England area. I live in North Reading, Massachusetts with my husband Richard and my son Charlie.

Tell us about your most recent book, Gia.

With the main goal of helping to bring music back into classrooms in Massachusetts and across the United States, I created the picture book, “Journey to Jazzland.” In the book, readers join Windy Flute, Spitz Trumpet and their friends as they travel to a legendary place where music is joyous, creative and free.

I am a true believer in music programs in schools! My daughter is in her senior year of college studying to be a Music Therapist. I often wonder what she’d be doing if we stayed in California where they’d already cut so much of the music programs.

Gia what classics do you recommend?

Oh so many children’s picture books that are great, but here are my top three favorites:
“The Giving Tree” – Shel Silverstein
“Where the Wild Things Are” – Maurice Sendack
“The poems and readings of Winnie the Pooh” – E.E. Milne

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

·        The top 3 tools of the trade.

I can’t live without: a laptop (seriously, where was this tool in the 1990s?), Facebook – I am addicted, but it is a great tool, and the internet (yes, I guess Facebook is on the internet, but really Google, Twitter, all that social media as well is fabulous for me)

·        My top 3 leisure activities.

Knitting – I’m sort of an avid knitter, although I still can’t knit socks (sigh), watching movies on cable – especially Foreign movies (those are my favorite – my top favorite is “The Red Violin”, hanging out with my family is always fun too.

·        Top 3 hit songs from when you were in the age range of your target audience.

Oh boy, that was a very long time ago: The top hit songs when I was 5 – 9?  Probably “Yellow Submarine” by The Beatles, (and now I have that song stuck in my head thank you very much), “You are the Sunshine of my life” – Stevie Wonder, “Ballroom Blitz” – The Sweet

I have a Ballroom Blitz earworm, thanks! Ha ha. Gia, where can our tech savvy readers find out more about you and your work?

My website is still under construction (hopefully will be out soon), in the meantime, my blog is http://www.giazzworld.blogspot.com, and Facebook is http://www.faceboook.com/gia.saulnier and my fan page is http://www.facebook.com/journeytojazzland


Thank you for charming us on this week’s Three Times A Charm! Best of luck to you and your writing, Gia.


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

October 23, 2013

Three Times A Charm with Karen Pokras Toz

Welcome to Three Times A Charm. I love meeting new authors, illustrators, bloggers, agents, editors or promoters from the children’s publishing industry and sharing their careers with my readers.

Today’s guest is children’s author, Karen Pokras Toz. Welcome to Strands of Thought, Karen! Can you tell us a little about you, please?

I write middle grade and adult contemporary fiction. My middle grade novels include the Nate Rocks series, Millicent Marie Is Not My Name, and Pie and Other Brilliant Ideas. I began writing for kids on a dare when my own children told me they had nothing interesting to read. I won that dare and have since won several awards for my works. I’m a native of Connecticut, and now live outside of Philadelphia with my husband and three children.

A dare! That’s great, Karen.

Tell us about your most recent novel.

I recently published my fifth middle grade novel called “Pie and Other Brilliant Ideas.” Pie is about a twelve year old girl named Georgie Harris. Georgie loves to dance and spent many years taking ballet lessons with her best friend, Amber. However, when her parents decided it was time to move to be closer to her grandmother, Georgie did not take the news well: dance lessons in this new town were just too expensive.

Instead, Georgie spends her time baking pies and visiting her grandmother in her nursing home. There she meets a woman named Eve, who turns out to have danced with a world famous ballerina in Russia back when she was a child. Georgie and Eve’s stories intertwine as their friendship progresses throughout the tale, where Georgie learns many lessons about dreams and friendship.

I recommend my book to readers who like:

Are You There God It’s Me Margaret – Judy Blume
Starring Sally J. Freeman As Herself – Judy Blume
Ballerina - Nada Ćurčija Prodanović

That sounds like a story with a wonderful journey. Okay, Karen, now, for the Threes. Share with us your top 3’s to help us know you a little better.

  • Top 3 tools of the trade you couldn’t live without.

            1. My Laptop/Ipad/Phone – I’m not a pen/paper girl. I like to type – whether it be on my computer or even on the notepad of my phone when I’m waiting for the schoolbus. The only exception is #2...

2. AquaNotes – Have you seen this? It’s a waterproof pad of paper that hangs in the shower. I love it.  (AWESOME!!!! I HAVE TO CHECK INTO THAT!)

3. Coffee. It’s not really a tool, I know. But for serious writing or editing – those times when things are coming together and are no longer just scraps of AquaNotes floating around, coffee is a must.

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

Variety Show Performer (think Marie Osmond – except I can’t sing or dance)
Fashion Buyer for a Department Store (thinking I could get free designer clothes)
Stock Broker (after watching Wall Street – didn’t we all want to be stock brokers after watching that?)

  • Top 3 personal mantras or inspirational phrases.

“We have the power to shrink our dreams to fit reality, or the power to stretch our reality to fit our dreams.” – Anonymous
“Dream big and rock on!”
“You are never too old to set another goal or live another dream.” – C.S. Lewis

Where can our tech savvy readers find you online, Karen?

Connect with me online:
                                   

Thanks so much!!

Thank you for charming us on this week’s Three Times A Charm! Best of luck to you and your writing, Karen.

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

October 21, 2013

World of Ink Presents Hockey Agony by Donna McDine

Today we are visiting with Donna McDine on her most recent stop from her World of Ink virtual book tour.


Welcome, Donna. It is always lovely to have you visit. I recently played host to Tommy from your book Powder Monkey, but today you are here to talk about your other new release, Hockey Agony. Congrats on two new books! For what age range is Hockey Agony intended?

Donna: Hockey Agony is for 8-12 years of age.

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?

Donna: Vacationing in Booth Bay Harbor, Maine with my family. It was low tide and we were digging for craps and before I knew it my feet were sinking. When my brothers pulled me up from underneath my armpits my sneakers slipped off my feet and got sucked into the sand. We tried digging for my sneakers, but the tide started to come in and we had to go to shore.

Kai: How scary and thrilling! I’m sure you tap into those feelings when you are writing! Donna, how do you feel life has changed for children today from when you were that age?

Donna: Stories now are not always tied up with a pretty ribbon at the end with everything being resolved for the character.

Kai: How is life still the same?

Donna: Children still want a book that engages them from the onset without preaching to them.

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

Donna: Riding bicycles to the town pool

Kai: I rode my bicycle everywhere when I was young! Tell us, what inspired this book and how did you decide on this age range for it?

Donna: My lifelong interest in sports and watching my children, nieces and nephews compete in one sport or another inspired me to write Hockey Agony.

The publisher helped determine what was the best age range.

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 Hockey Agony?

Donna: Hockey Agony bookmark, hockey key chain, hockey tape for hockey stick repairs, a zamboni book, and mouth guard.

Kai: Great gift basket! Sounds like fun. Thanks for visiting with us, Donna. Have fun on the rest of your book(s) tour!

Hockey Agony:
Peer Pressure and Honesty many times go hand-in-hand.  What is Larry to do when his teammate asks him to cheat when he is given the responsibility to run the clock during the big hockey game?  Outwardly, it may seem he will follow suit, but his conscious tells him otherwise at the moment of truth.

Title: Hockey Agony
Category: Chapbooks for Tweens
Author: Donna McDine http://www.donnamcdine.com 
Artist: Julie Hammond http://www.juliehammondart.com 
Paperback ISBN: 9781616333607; 161633360X
eBook ISBN: 9781616333614; 1616333618
Price: $9.95 paperback / $5.00 e-book

Multiple award-winning children’s author, Donna McDine writes, moms and is a personal assistant from her home in the historical hamlet Tappan, NY. McDine is a member of the SCBWI, Children’s Literature Network, and Family Reading Partnership.

Write What Inspires You! blog: www.donna-mcdine.blogspot.com

You can find out more about Donna McDine, her books and World of Ink Author/Book Tour at http://tinyurl.com/3tv4jgf




October 18, 2013

The Character Book Club with Breeze Brannigan and Just Breeze


Hi, my name is Terra. I’m the main character in the middle grade fantasy Beware of the White. I have to be honest, I’m a bit nervous about today. My author volunteered me to conduct this interview and I have no idea what to ask. I’m interviewing Breeze Brannigan from Beverly Stowe McClure’s novel Just Breeze. Have you seen Breeze? She’s totally amazing. She also happens to be one of my author’s favorite of Mrs. McClure’s characters. No pressure there.

Oh, here she comes! That has to be her. Tall, confidant, and that beautiful hair! I bet none of her classmates accuse her of being ‘weird’.  Well boys and girls, time for you to get to know more about Breeze Brannigan.

Hi Breeze. It’s nice to meet you. Have a seat. I took the liberty to order you a soda. I hope you like root beer. You seemed to me like the root beer type.

Breeze: Hey, Terra. Thanks. Root beer is my favorite.  How’d you know? My writer told me you wanted to talk to me today. Nice to meet ’cha.


Terra: Can you tell us about yourself? Like where you’re from. How old you are. Stuff like that.

Breeze: Well, I don’t know why you want to know about me. I’m pretty boring, but here goes. I’m thirteen, in the eighth grade, and live in a small town in Texas called Whispering Springs. My hair has curls on top of curls and it’s such a bright red you need sunshades to keep from going blind when I’m around. Oh, and I wear canoes instead of shoes because my feet are trying to set a record for gianthood and doing a good job of it. If that’s not enough to make me a freak, I’m the tallest kid, boy or girl, in school. You get the picture?

Terra: Oh! I do get the picture. Well, not the being tall with wild hair thing, I kinda blend in. Though to be honest, I work pretty hard to blend in because when I don’t I’m being teased. But I never guessed we’d have anything sort of in common. What about friends? Who is your best friend? What makes her your best friend? Is she exactly like you or exactly opposite of you?

Breeze: Aw, yes, I have a super best friend. Her name’s Amy Mallory, and she’s the total opposite of me. She’s short, has long, STRAIGHT brown hair that’s perfect. When she walks she floats like a cloud because she has normal-sized feet. I guess that’s why we’re best friends, you know. The opposites attract thing.

Terra: You’re lucky to have Amy. I understand there is a new guy at your school this year. What’s he like?

Breeze: Yeah, Cam’s his name. Cam Smith. He’s not drool-worthy cute, more just average looking. His hair is dark and spiked. His eyes strike me at nose level, like everyone else’s do. His eyes though are gorgeous. Brown with flecks of gold.

Shh. Don’t breathe a word of this to anyone, but I suspect he’s from Mars or Jupiter. You want to know why? I’ll tell you. When Tony, Amy’s boyfriend, introduced us, Cam shook my hand and called me Miss Breeze. None of the Earthling guys I know are that polite. Most guys thump me on the shoulder and say “Yo, Bud!” He also has an accent of some sort.

Terra: You seem a bit smitten. Or maybe I’m weird to use that old fashioned word. It seems like you might have a bit of a crush on him. What are you doing to get his attention? You are trying to get his attention, right?

Breeze: Smitten? Heh, heh. Well, now that you mention it, he does hold a certain appeal. Maybe it’s his politeness that I like. Or else the fact that every girl in school is ga-ga eyed over him. I think I’m a little jealous. Who am I kidding? It’s the eyes. Sigh. If the old saying “Eyes are the window to the soul” he’s looking into my very soul. Sigh.

Terra: Yeah, I get that. (sighs too) But not everything is on the up and up, is it?

Breeze: Oh, I can’t say anything. I promised to keep his secret. I will mention that his situation is very serious and could mean life or death for Cam and his mother. The book goes into detail and I think everyone will be as surprised to learn the truth as I was. Zipping my lip on any more.

Terra: Breeze, if you could live one perfect moment from your book, which moment would that be?

Breeze: The most perfect moment in my book was the night Cam confessed his real identity to me. We had gone to the high school homecoming football game together and were waiting at Dad’s van for my parents to show up to take us home when he started talking. He said I once asked him who he really was. Yep, I did. Then I told him the reason I asked was because I imagined he was an alien from the planet Hunky Guys. One thing led to another and I soon knew his whole story. And let me tell you, being from another planet wasn’t as wild as the truth was. I still have to pinch myself sometimes to make sure I’m not dreaming.

Terra: Do you have any plans for the future?

Breeze: Nothing special. Now that school is out for the summer, I hope to have fun with my friends: swim, movies, whatever else pops up. I’ll think about Cam a lot and hope things work out for him. I really, really miss him, but guess I’ll never see him again.

Terra: We have more in common than I thought, Breeze. Wow, this interviewing thing wasn’t as bad as I expected. Thank you for being so easy to get along with.

Breeze: Hey! You’re cool. Let’s get together again sometimes. Okay?


Terra: Love to!

October 16, 2013

Three Times A Charm with Angela Brown

Welcome to Three Times A Charm. I love meeting new authors, illustrators, bloggers, agents, editors or promoters from the children’s publishing industry and sharing their careers with my readers.

Today’s guest is author, Angela Brown. Welcome to Strands of Thought, Angela! Can you tell us a little about you, please?

I’m on the hunt for that elusive good night sleep, a slippery devil to grasp between my full-time day gig, single-mommydom, continuous pursuit of publishing my YA/NA/MG/PB writing projects, and sneaking in wonderful reads that take me on adventures, make me cry and make me laugh. Chocolate is a dear friend of mine. Wild Cherry Pepsi is my addiction. My daughter is the light of my life J

Holy smokes you are busy! My hat is off to you, Angela, for juggling such a full schedule. Tell us about your most recent novel.

At its core, Neverlove is a story of breaking free and forbidden love. For seventeen-year-old Abigail, one rash decision leads to an unexpected chance for redemption. At V'Salicus Academy, a unique institute where she trains to become an agent of heaven, she struggles with the pain of her past, the changes of the present and accepts a loveless future until her path – and heart – crosses with Basil’s.

Basil's off-chance slip of the tongue binds him to a life of servitude to the Devourer, the master of hell. His existence has no upside until a chance meeting with Abigail brings new perspective.

Keeping the truth of their present lives from each other brings disaster when secrets are brought to light and the life of Abigail’s mentor is put on the line.

I recommend my book to readers who like:
Become by Ali Cross
Reaper’s Novice by Cecilia Robert
Graceling by Kristin Cashore

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

  • Top 3 leisure activities.

I love, LOVE, to read. So that is one of my favorite leisure activities. Next is watching movies. Although I enjoy watching new movies at the theater, relaxing at home with my own fresh popped popcorn, unlimited access to all the soda and water I want and great company (my daughter) makes things so much better. Baking cupcakes is another leisurely activity that’s fun. Like writing, the end result is something special that can be shared with others.

  • Top 3 pieces of advice for kids these days.
First, I would advise kids to ENJOY being a kid. There’s no need to rush. The only thing rushing accomplishes is saddling you into a job and rent quicker than you’d like. Second, this may surprise you, but your parents were once kids, too. So when they’re sharing advice, listen. It’s coming from the heart and, in many instances, from the painful knowledge that comes with experience. Lastly, love yourself. Yeah, your friends like you and your parents love you, but loving yourself sets a firmer foundation as you grow, embrace and become all you were meant to be.

  • Top 3 personal mantras or inspirational phrases.

Live and let live. Just imagine just how much more pleasant, though not perfect, this world would be if we actually did that.

Live today, for tomorrow is not promised.

"You may never know what results come of your action, but if you do nothing there will be no result." ~ Mahatma Gandhi

Now readers, it’s your turn, Angela wants you to share your responses to these three questions:
-          What is one of your favorite movies (of all time but a most recent fave is great)?
-          You’re surfing Youtube. What type of video guarantees gut-busting laughter from you?
-          What draws you to that final step to click, grab or buy your books?


Angela, where can our tech savvy readers find you and your work online?

Angela Brown in the Pursuit of Publishness blog: http://publishness.blogspot.com/

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

THANKS!


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

October 14, 2013

Kill Your Darlings - Uh, Define Darlings!

Kill your darlings is a term frequently used in writing that I’ve seen interpreted many different ways. So I went in search of the true meaning of kill your darlings.


“In writing, you must kill your darlings.” --William Faulkner

This literary advice refers to the dangers of an author using personal favorite elements. While these may hold special meaning for the author, they can cause readers to roll their eyes for reasons such as:

-Purple prose
 
-Narm
 
-Egregious overuse of a word or phrase
Did he seriously just use the word "egregious" up there? Dude, kill your darlings.
William Faulkner supposedly advised writers to kill their "darlings," those little bits of glitter a writer thinks are simply marvelous. To the reader lacking that maternal attitude, they are at best distracting, at worst a reason to stop reading. (Wiki, maybe? hard to tell who to credit so here's the link)

I was also surprised to discover the term has been adopted by software writers in some related way. I wasn’t aware that code could contain any ‘fluff,’ but it seems that all types of ‘writers; love their ‘words’ to a fault.

Nowhere in any definition did I find that kill your darlings means to kill off a favored character. Those of you who were under that impression can stop killing off those we love under the guise you are doing it for your craft. You are breaking our hearts. Please stop!

If you are like me, you knew it applied to editing, but thought it a broader scope that told you to stop talking so darned much and to just get to the point. In other words, don’t take 120K words to tell an 80K word story.

Regardless of what you thought the term meant, it is a useful piece of advice to keep in mind while going into your editing process. And once again, the kids are safe.

What is your favorite editing advice?

October 11, 2013

Indie Author Survival Guide by Susan Kaye Quinn

I am THRILLED to share the newest publication from Susan Kaye Quinn. Susan has long been a hero of mine in the world of publishing. She is smart, talented and fearless. Because she is so smart she put all of her advice articles on self-publishing into a shiny new book. Ladies and Gentlemen, may I present the:

This book is for every author who's thinking about indie publishing, or has already taken the leap, and wonders why no one told them about the sharks, the life-sucking social media quicksand, or the best way to avoid sales-checking, yellow-spotted fever. This is a guide for the heart as much as the head. And because I promised myself that I wouldn't write a book about how I made a gazillion dollars publishing ebooks, I would write about the fear: owning it, overcoming it, facing it. From a person who didn't pursue a creative life for a long time, and then discovered creativity can set you free. Note: gazillion is a technical term, which in this case means something less than a million and more than the average income in my state.
Susan Kaye Quinn is the author of the bestselling Mindajck Trilogy and Debt Collector serial and has been indie publishing since 2011. She’s not an indie rockstar or a breakout success: she’s one of thousands of solidly midlist indie authors making a living with their works. This book is a compilation of her four years of blogging through changes in the publishing industry—updated, revised, and supplemented to be relevant in 2013. It’s a guide to help her writer-friends take their own leaps into the wild (and wonderful) world of indie publishing... and not only survive, but thrive. You can friend her on Facebook or follow her on twitter or check out her blog where she'll be doing who knows what next.
Grab the Badge for your blog!
Sign up for bookmarks!
Win the t-shirt!
FAQ About the Guide
Q: What prompted you to write the Guide? I resisted a long time in putting this together. I had this silly idea I was a fiction writer (which is also true), in spite of spending the last four years blogging consistently about the industry, and especially the changes wrought by indie publishing. It took the goading of several friends, over a period of time, before I realized that the blog was actually non-fiction writing (I can be excessively slow for Ph.D. engineer sometimes). The trigger for blogging the book - revising and updating old posts as well as organizing the content - was seeing writer friend after writer friend take the leap, often after reading something I had posted. And I realized there wasn't a book out there that addressed the fears as well as the nuts-and-bolts about going indie. I could have just left the Guide on my rinky-dink blog, but I knew the power of Amazon (and other retailers) to connect people to books, and I figured it would help more people this way. Q: Why should I read a book about indie publishing by Susan Kaye Quinn? I'm pretty sure she's not a NY Times Bestseller. I'm not an indie rockstar. I haven't made the news as one of those "exceptional" breakout indie authors. I'm a solidly midlist indie author, which means I make a living off my works. I'm one of thousands of invisible indie midlist authors who, I believe, are the core of indie publishing, and why it's changing the industry. The rockstars of indie publishing can inspire and lead, they can use their leverage to break barriers, but they can't transform the industry on their own. The true change has to come, as it always has, from the grass-roots. I'm part of that grass-roots movement. Q: Will this Guide help me get rich quick from ebooks? No. Q: Will this Guide help me decide if indie publishing is right for me? Yes. Q: What if I'm afraid? We're all afraid. Fear is an integral part of being vulnerable in the world by daring to do brave things. Fear stops many people from becoming the full expression of who they are. I won't tell you not to be afraid in this book - I'll help you see the fear for what it is, manage it, and not let it stop you from reaching for the amazing things you have ahead of you. Q: What if I don't have the first clue how to start with self-publishing? The Guide is designed to take a first-time-publishing author from the decision to go indie through to writing that second book (and starting the whole process over again). It's also designed to help indie authors who have already published, but are struggling: either with keeping perspective for the long-term, trying to scale up their businesses from the first book, or just trying not to drown in social media quicksand. My hope is that all my indie author friends will find something worthwhile in it, or pass it on to someone who will. The culture in indie publishing of sharing information is part of what inspired this book in the first place.

October 9, 2013

Three Times A Charm with Sharon Ledwith

Welcome to Three Times A Charm. I love meeting new authors, illustrators, bloggers, agents, editors or promoters from the children’s publishing industry and sharing their careers with my readers.

Today’s guest is children’s author, Sharon Ledwith. Welcome to Strands of Thought! Can you tell us a little about you, please?

I am the author of the middle-grade/YA time travel series, THE LAST TIMEKEEPERS, available through Musa Publishing. When I’m not writing, researching, or revising, I enjoy reading, yoga, kayaking, time with family and friends, and single malt scotch. I live in the wilds of Muskoka in Central Ontario, Canada, with my hubby, a water-logged yellow Labrador and moody calico cat.

For some reason I keep thinking only real woman drink single malt scotch! Lol. Sharon, tell us about Legend of the Timekeepers.

There is no moving forward without first going back.

Lilith was a young girl with dreams and a family before the final destruction of Atlantis shattered those dreams and tore her family apart. Now refugees, Lilith and her father make their home in the Black Land. This strange, new country has no place in Lilith’s heart until a beloved high priestess introduces Lilith to her life purpose—to be a Timekeeper and keep time safe.
Summoned through the seventh arch of Atlantis by the Children of the Law of One, Lilith and her newfound friends are sent into Atlantis’s past, and given a task that will ultimately test their courage and try their faith in each other. Can the Timekeepers stop the dark magus Belial before he changes the seers’ prophecy? If they fail, then their future and the earth’s fate will be altered forever.

I recommend my book to readers who like:

Rick Riordan’s Percy Jackson and the Olympians series
The Infinity Ring series (various authors)
JK Rowling’s Harry Potter series

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

Top 3 tools of the trade you couldn’t live without.

One, I have many notebooks and pads and sticky notes at my disposal to start the creative juices flowing. I start with an idea, then create characters and build the story around them. Two, I use character tracking sheets (stats on characters appearances, clothing, likes and dislikes, etc.) which I catalogue in a binder. Then the fun begins. Research, research, and more research. So, the third tool I couldn’t live without is access to the internet. When you’re writing time travel, you’ve got to know your facts to create the fiction.

Top 3 pieces of advice for kids these days.

First, never stop investing in yourself. Invest in the best. That’s in yourself, your life, and in your future. Second, surround yourself with the best possible team by choosing your friends wisely. Third, never stop learning, never stop growing. This is your ticket to a happy and successful life. Believe in yourself first and foremost.

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

When I was a young girl, I always wanted to play professional hockey, but since there was no such thing as organized hockey leagues for girls (late 60s, early 70s), I never had the chance. I also wanted to be an animator and work for Disney, but lacked the true talent to create the kind of characters you see brought to life on the screen. My third choice was to become a veterinarian because of my love of animals, but when I found out that sometimes it was required to euthanize an animal, I didn’t think I could handle that profession. However, later in life I did get to work at the local animal shelter, and from that experience I wrote a young adult book that caught the eye of a literary agency and they signed me right away. Go figure! 

Readers, now it’s you turn. Sharon wants you to share your top 3 responses to the following questions:

If you could go back in time, where would you go?
Why would you go back there?
Who would you like to meet if you could travel back in time?


Where can our tech savvy readers find you online, Sharon?

Sharon’s Website: www.sharonledwith.com
Sharon’s Facebook Page: http://www.facebook.com/#!/seledwith

Thanks for charming us on this week’s Three Times A Charm. Best of luck to you and your time travel series.

THANKS!

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


October 7, 2013

Wordstock - Change the World (At Least It Changed Mine)

<-- This happened this weekend. I've always wanted to attend, but was never organized enough to make it happen. My niece was the one to corral me and her mom into it this year. I've been really busy recently, so I glanced over the workshop schedules and bought my ticket and showed up.

Let it be known that I hadn't read anything about what was actually going to happen while I was there.

We walk in and sat down for our first panel, and thee cutest person bops past on her way to the moderating podium. I grinned thinking, This is going to be fun! Then she introduces herself as Stephanie Perkins and I'm in immediate and completely unexpected fangirl mode. I think, No WONDER Anna and the French Kiss made me so happy. Look at the author! I was able to meet her later and gush about her books and she signed a copy of Lola and the Boy Next Door for me and it was simultaneously fun and embarrassing to be so excited about meeting someone. But she really deserves it.


There were other fun panels with smart authors talking about cool things. A lot of smart authors as a matter of fact, and I'd love to name all the authors who impressed me with their wit and sarcasm and insight this weekend, but people don't read long posts so you'll have to trust me.

BUT then THIS happened and it CHANGED MY WORLD!

I did not know Maggie Stiefvater was going to be there this weekend. That's probably a good thing because I would have obsessed over the fact that I'm having a bad hair month and I would have made copious notes of clever things to say. Instead I fell into the situation in a kind of stupor. This panel was SO much fun to listen to. I've developed a reader crush on Dan Krokos - now I just have to become one of his readers. And after the panel, I stood in line and talked to a lovely blue haired librarian from Washington who was equally excited about meeting Maggie and then...and then...after a million years I finally did this:


I met Maggie. In person. By the way, she is a microscopic person, which surprised me because of her bounty of personality and the fact that she plays the bagpipes. She was gracious to say she remembered me - because that would be awkward. "Uh, no, not ringing a bell!" might have brought the conversation to a halt.

It wasn't until long after I left that I thought to pull my book out and see what she wrote.


By the time the message sank into my foggy brain, Maggie had gone from being 'one of my favorite' authors to my favorite. (See! We have history. She's referring to this old interview from days gone by.)

The entire weekend was fun and I loved having the opportunity to rub elbows with people in the business - such a rarity for me. But seriously meeting Maggie in person changed my world. It isn't because she's a New York Times bestselling author. It isn't because she's had book signings in places like Budapest. It's because, after all of that she has experienced in her career, she still has such a passion for writing and the business that comes along with it. Meeting her inspired me to never think that I've written my best book and to stay in love with my readers. My niece made a FANTASTIC recap of Wordstock, which shares their awesome mission and some fun panel footage:



Have you ever had a Changed-Your-World author encounter? Have you met any of your favorite authors? I'd love to hear about it.

October 4, 2013

Building Character with Tommy Kitt from Powder Monkey

It’s Friday! Time for my blog feature, Building Character in which you get to meet a character from a book. Talking to a character outside of their book is fun! Huge. Amounts. Of fun. 


This week Strands of Thought is excited to host a tour stop for World of Ink. Tommy from Powder Monkey is here to tell his about his harrowing adventure. Tommy, tell us a little about yourself.

Hi, my name is Tommy. I’m 12 years old and lived on a farm with my older brother and my parents, until the Press Gang showed up.

Oh, Tommy, that sounds very serious. Can you tell us a little more about that?

Always considered a sissy by my pa because my lack of size and preference to help my ma around the farm instead of him I was first terrified when the Royal Navy Press Gang arrived at our farm. I never had the backbone to stand up for myself or anyone else, until that day. Foregoing my safety I jumped to my ma’s defense when the nasty big man pushed ma to the ground after pa crumbled after one hit. Now who’s the sissy?

What happened next?

I was kidnapped and forced to work on a ship for the Royal Navy.

What are some of the biggest stumbling blocks you’ve encountered while being forced to work on a ship?

Not being big enough to fight and gain my freedom.

Tommy, if you could change one thing in this world, what would you change?

The cruelty of human kind both mentally and physically; and someone thinking they are better than you because they are bigger and stronger.

I completely agree Tommy. Thanks for visiting today and sharing your story with us. Readers, here is more information about Tommy’s story Powder Monkey.

Powder Monkey: Forced into a life at sea by the Royal Navy Press Gangs, 12-year-old Tommy Kitt finds himself in a floating sea of misery. Poor living conditions and beatings occur daily. Despite his runt like size, Tommy must summon the courage and physical ability to prevail in a situation he cannot escape.

Powder Monkey:




And here is some information about Tommy’s author:

Multiple award-winning children’s author, Donna McDine writes, moms and is a personal assistant from her home in the historical hamlet Tappan, NY. McDine is a member of the SCBWI, Children’s Literature Network, and Family Reading Partnership.

Write What Inspires You! blog: www.donna-mcdine.blogspot.com
***

If you have a character from a children’s, tween or young adult book that you’d like to see interviewed on Building Character, please contact kaistrand at yahoo dot com.

October 2, 2013

Three Times A Charm with Pam Kelt

Welcome to Three Times A Charm. I love meeting new authors, illustrators, bloggers, agents, editors or promoters from the children’s publishing industry and sharing their careers with my readers.

Today’s guest is children’s author, Pam Kelt. Welcome to Strands of Thought, Pam! Can you tell us a little about you, please?

With a background in journalism, languages and educational publishing, it was inevitable that I would eventually say to heck with a career and try writing for myself. After a few years of trying out different styles, I landed six book deals in as many months and declared myself reinvented. Just as well, as it’s the ideal way to combat empty nest syndrome now that my daughter is at the University of Edinburgh doing History of Art.

Three titles are for adults (Dark Interlude and Half Life with MuseItUp and Tomorrow’s Anecdote with Crooked Cat). Botanical mystery The Lost Orchid (YA/NA) is scheduled for an autumn release at Bluewood Publishing, along with two teen fantasy adventures, Ice Trekker and The Cloud Pearl, part one of Legends of Liria (both with MuseItUp). I now write full-time. I live in leafy Warwickshire, England, with my academic husband Robert (with whom I collaborated on Half Life, a ‘noir’ thriller set in 1936) and our two daft dogs. My favourite pastimes, apart from writing, are watching movies, trying not to overwater my windowsill orchids and keeping up with best teen fantasy fiction around.

Ha ha! I live in the high desert; I don’t think it is possible to give our houseplants too much water, it is so arid here. Tell us about your most recent novel, Pam.

Ice Trekker is a teen fantasy, set in a far-off land called Krønagar inhabited by friendly Grells and their not-so-friendly rivals, the ruthless Minax. It’s a fast-flowing adventure, intermingled with myths, monsters and mayhem.

It’s aimed at the tween/teen audience and hopefully would appeal to boys and girls. Although set in a mythical past, the story has a modern twist. Supplies of Blackfrost, the one remaining fuel source, have run out, and the Grells of Hinderland are facing a bleak future.

Food is scarce, jobs are hard to find and worse … the greedy Minax are poised to invade from the south.

For the sake of his family, young Midge leaves home and treks north to the frozen wastes of Krønagar, an uncharted land to the north, in search of work. Set upon by thieves, he ends up as dogsbody on the Ice Trekker, a small, shabby cargo vessel that runs into trouble from the start.

Despite evil omens in the sky, monsters from the deep, desperate sea battles, treachery on board and a constant war with the worsening weather, the plucky crew members press north …

But Midge soon discovers that the Ice Trekker is not what it seems. The crew has a secret mission to save the Grells – and Hinderland – from doom.

Trapped by ruthless Minax, he and the crew end up risking all in a desperate battle for survival as they take on a mysterious quest in the icy wastes of Krønagar.

Pam, your book sounds so exciting and the setting unique! Who do you recommend read your book?

Ever since my daughter reintroduced me to reading, via JK Rowling, I’ve been addicted to teen fantasy books. Am I allowed to do my three favourites series?

The Edge Chronicles, by Paul Stewart, illustrated by Chris Ridell - worth it for the illustrations alone, but the characters are compelling and the universe they’ve created stays with you

Mortal Engines Quartet, Philip Reeve - powerful reimagining of an alternative world where cities are actually machines

Septimus Heap, Angie Sage - whimsical yet epic, a series to rival Harry Potter, with charming apprentice Septimus and his friends, family and foes.

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

The top three tools of the trade I couldn’t live without are:

  • My fountain pen. I still like to plot out books the old-fashioned way.
  • The online Collins dictionary. It never hurts to look things up.
  • My laptop. My virtual window on the world.
 As for leisure activities, I’ve been a bit busy, but I’ve still managed to:

  • Watch old movies on a Sunday afternoon, especially black and white spy mysteries from the 1930s and ’40s
  • Walk my two lovely rescue dogs every day. We’re lucky in Kenilworth to have plenty of green parks and deep woods, full of good stuff like muddy pools to wade in, sticks to throw and squirrels to chase. The dogs have a great time, too.
  • Read! With ebooks, I read so much more, from teen fantasy through to the grisliest Nordic Noir. I find myself getting to appointments early so I can sneak in some extra chapters.
I couldn’t resist sharing my top three super heroes and/or super villains:

  • My first super hero is a heroine, disguised as a hero. Her real name is Deryn Sharpe, an orphan who assumes the identity as a boy so she can join the British Air Service in Scott Westerfield’s amazing book Leviathan. She’s as feisty as Amy Pond (Doctor Who’s former assistant) and equally Scottish, mercurial, quick-thinking and loyal to the core. A brilliant heroine.
  • I’m a recent convert to Percy Jackson, from the Rick Riordan series, especially in the latest movie, The Sea of Monsters. I love the fact that he’s flawed and conflicted, struggles with adolescence while being hassled by gods and mythological creatures 24/7, but manages heroically to do the right thing and still win. What a terrific role model.
  • Finally, Sherlock Holmes in all his guises, from Basil Rathbone through to the modern Johnny Lee Miller. Conan Doyle miraculously created this character, an astonishing mix of cleverness and eccentricity, to form one of the most fascinating characters in literature - even though he tried to kill him off!

Pam, where can our tech savvy readers find you online?

Follow me on Twitter and Facebook. Find out all the latest on my author website and blog. Or why not send an email to pamkelt@gmail.com?

See my author pages on Amazon.co.uk, Amazon.com, Goodreads and Smashwords.
Finally, here’s the companion blog to Ice Trekker.

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

THANKS!

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


October 1, 2013

Release Day - The Faeries of Halloween by Rose Killion

Today I have a very special guest. This young woman is smart and funny. She has a true heart and a generous spirit. She also happens to be my niece. Needless to say, I have a good measure of her character.

Today she is celebrating the release day of her first picture book. I have seen this adorable story throughout its journey and I’ve pre-ordered my copy. I can’t wait to see the final version. As you will learn, this book was a true family affair. (I’m blessed to be part of a very talented family.)

Ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls, I present newly published author, Rose Killion.

Congratulations, Rose, on the release of The Faeries of Halloween! Tell us about the book.

The Faeries of Halloween is a picture book for children of all ages. It tells the story of how Maria and her brother Peter first hear about the legend of the Faeries of Halloween. They must decide if they are willing to donate their Halloween candy to a good cause in exchange for a surprise gift.

What inspired the story?

I was never a fan of the amount of candy my young children would come home with after Trick-or-Treating on Halloween. When we moved to Northern California, we met a family that trades their candy for a present on Halloween through the Halloween Fairy. We tried it that year and the kids were more excited about their gift than missing the candy. I wanted to spread the word about this fantastic new tradition and the story was born.

As this book took shape, you ended up collaborating with your brother. How did that idea come together?

I had sent the story to a few local publishing houses that were not interested in picture books at the time. I expressed my frustration to my brother, Thomas Henschel. He confided to me that he was starting up a publishing company and would love to have my book be his first published work.

Thomas is also a very talented artist and did all the illustrations for The Faeries of Halloween!

I’m a very proud aunt! You guys are amazing. Tell us a little about you, Rose.

I live in beautiful wine country, east of San Francisco, California, with my two spirited children and supportive husband. I have taught preschool through early elementary school children, and currently homeschool our two kids.

Our son was diagnosed with Type 1 Diabetes at the age of nine. I have since been inspired to find new ways to help him enjoy normal childhood activities without risking his health. The Faeries of Halloween is a new tradition that not only helps him, but other families struggling to keep their children healthy, without having to take away the joy of trick-or-treating.

I have always had a love of writing and have graduated from the Institute of Children’s Literature. The Faeries of Halloween is my first published book. But it won’t be my last!

Where can we purchase The Faeries of Halloween?

You can purchase The Faeries of Halloween through the website: www.faeriesofhalloween.com

Thanks for visiting today, Rose. Best of luck to you and your new book.

Thank you Kai. It was my pleasure!!