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Today I am lucky to introduce Penny Lockwood. She is an author with an amazing talent and is now promoting her latest Picture Book titled BOO’S BAD DAY. Welcome Penny. So happy to have you on The Mind’s Eye…

BOO’S BAD DAY
By: Penny Lockwood
Picture book for children aged 18 months to 6 years
Published by 4RV Publishing
http://www.4rvpublishingcatalog.com/penny-lockwood.php
ISBN# 13: 978-0-9852661-5-8
Also available on Amazon

Thanks for hosting me, Charlie.  I hope everyone will stop by and say hi at the end of the interview. At the end of my book tour, I will pick out one commenter’s name and send an autographed copy of Boo’s Bad Day to a United States address only.  If the name I pick is someone who lives outside the U.S., I will send a PDF copy of the book.  So remember, readers, be sure to leave contact information when you comment!

BIO:

Penny Lockwood has published more than 100 articles, 75 stories, a chapbook, and her stories have been included in two anthologies. She writes for both adults and children. Her fiction has appeared in numerous genre and children’s publications, and non‑fiction work has appeared in a variety of writing, parenting, and young adult print magazines and on line publications.  She edits for MuseItUp Publishing.  Visit her web site at http:// pennylockwoodehrenkranz.yolasite.com. Her writing blog is located at http://pennylockwoodehrenkranz.blogspot.com/.

She has recently released Boo’s Bad Day with 4RV Publishing and has three other children’s books under contract with them: Ghost for Rent, Ghost for Lunch, and Many Colored Coats. She has three romances published by MuseItUp Publishing: Love Delivery, Lady in Waiting, and Mirror, Mirror.  Her short story collection, A Past and A Future, is available through Sam’s Dot Publishing and Smashwords.

This book sounds delightful, Penny. Can you tell your readers something interesting about yourself AND/OR your favorite character?

 

I am a wife, a mother, and a grandmother who has been writing professionally since 1993. I grew up on the east coast, but I’ve lived on the west coast for the past 36 years.  I love animals, and I can’t imagine a home without them.  We are currently down to two small dogs, two cats which are ours, and two we’re babysitting for our daughter and her husband.

Since I love animals so much, I’d have to say Boo is one of my favorite characters.  Since he’s modeled after one of our cats, he’s pretty special to me.

Boo sounds lovely. So, what was your favorite book as a teen? Tell us about it and how it affected you as a person.

That was such a long time ago, however, I think Arrowsmith, by Sinclair Lewis left quite the impression on me.  After reading it, I was determined to become a research scientist and find a cure for cancer since my dad had died of it when I was ten. Of course, that’s not what I ended up doing, but I still remember the book after all these years.

Tell us about the genre you have chosen to write for. Why do write specifically for them?

 

I actually enjoy writing in a lot of different genres.  I have written science fiction, fantasy, and romance for adults and teens.  For children, I have two picture books with animals as the main characters and two paranormal mysteries.  I also write non-fiction.  I tend to write about what I know and what I like.  My favorite genres for pleasure reading are sci fi and fantasy, and I always enjoy them best when there’s a touch of romance.  I’m intrigued by the possibility of ghosts and thus my paranormal mysteries for middle grade readers.  And, of course, with animals such a big part of my life, it’s not strange I chose to write their stories for my picture books.

Now tell us about your new book. How did it come about? Will you share your favorite excerpt/scene?

 

My latest release is Boos’ Bad Day. It’s loosely based on an adventure one of our cats had years ago.  As a teenager, Boo was stranded outside for two nights and two days during an ice storm.  We finally managed to get him back inside. Once rescued, he didn’t want to leave the hearth in front of the woodstove for a week.

My favorite scene in the whole book is when Boo is rescued and realizes being bored and safe is a very good thing.

On the writing side…how has writing affected your life? And what’s your favorite part of being a writer?

 

I am retired now from my day job, so I can write whenever I feel like it.  It’s quite liberating.  When I first started writing professionally, however, my children were still young. It was very hard to balance wanting to write and submit my work with finding enough time to spend with the kids.  It’s a difficult juggling act, and in retrospect, I can only hope I did it well.  We are quite proud of our adult children, so I guess I did something right.

My favorite part of being a writer is being caught up in the story.  I’m a “pantser;” that is I write from the seat of my pants.  I don’t outline, and the story sometimes changes drastically from what I envisioned.  When I’m writing, I can close my eyes and see the action playing like a movie.  It’s a wonderful experience.

What advice can you give regarding the writing process?

I strongly encourage writers to study proper grammar, spelling, and punctuation.  Don’t rely on a spell checker or grammar checker. You need to know the rules.  Don’t be in a rush to send off your story.  Check it, recheck it, ask a critique partner to read it, let it sit for a week, and re-read it before sending it off.

Regarding publication and marketing, what advice can you offer aspiring writers?

Regarding publication, the best advice I can give is study the markets before you submit.  Read guidelines and look at publisher’s catalogues to find the best fit for your story.

When it comes to marketing, that, for me, is the hardest part.  I like blog tours, such as this one, where bloggers are willing to help spread the word about new releases.  I use Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and JacketFlap (for children’s authors).  I have a blog where I regularly promote other authors, and by doing so, collect some good will for when I need to ask for a spot on another’s blog. I also send off press releases to local and statewide papers announcing new publication.

How can your fans find, follow or friend you?

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/penny.ehrenkranz

Twitter: @PennyEhrenkranz

LinkedIn: http://www.linkedin.com/in/pennyehrenkranz/

Website: http://pennylockwoodehrenkranz.yolasite.com

Blog: http://pennylockwoodehrenkanz.blogspot.com

BOO’S BAD DAY

By Penny Lockwood

Picture book for children aged 18 months to 6 years

Published by 4RV Publishing

ISBN# 13: 978-0-9852661-5-8

4RV - http://www.4rvpublishingcatalog.com/penny-lockwood.php

$8.99 includes s/h

Look inside at Amazon http://www.amazon.com/Boos-Bad-Day-Penny-Lockwood/dp/0985266155/ref=cm_cr_pr_product_top

$7.32 prime

Tagline:

Boo sneaks out of the house and discovers that freedom by himself can be scary.

Blurb:

Boo is a very bored kitten. When Timmy and his mom return home, Boo sneaks out of the house.  Boo is frightened by the noises of the big world outside of the safety of his warm home.  When Timmy coaxes Boo back into the house,

Boo realizes some places are safe and some are not.

Talking Points for parents include:

  • Taking care of a pet
  • Dangers of a busy street
  • Listening to parents
  • Safe places vs. unsafe places
Writing for children as Penny Lockwood, Warren, Oregon resident, Penny Ehrenkranz is pleased to announce the release of her picture book, Boo’s Bad Day, for children aged eighteen months to seven years.  Young children will enjoy the delightful pictures, and older children can read the story themselves.

Positive reviews for Boo’s Bad Day are already coming in. Grandmother Joan Johnson writes: “After a series of new life events, Boo discovers that there is no place as safe as home. A wonderful, sweet story told in simple enough language for the smallest child to enjoy, with illustrations that are equally wonderful. 5 stars.” And author Wendy Laharnar writes: In Boo’s Bad Day, Penny Lockwood presents a sweet story which is a delight to read aloud. Small children will love the kitten and his adventure. They will understand the delicate message that home is the safest place to be. Deborah C Johnson’s beautiful illustrations show us Boo’s miniature world, and I loved the changing expressions on Boo’s face. Boo’s Bad Day is a quality children’s picture book, one to snuggle into with your favorite child. 5 stars.”

The inspiration for Boo’s Bad Day came several years ago when the Ehrenkranz family cat, Boo, was stuck high in a fir tree during an ice storm for over two days.  When a friend was finally able to reach him and bring him inside, Boo curled in front of the wood stove and wouldn’t move for several days.

Boo’s Bad Day has several talking points which parents and teachers can use to talk about issues like taking care of one’s pets, the dangers of busy streets, listening to one’s parents, and what can be considered safe and unsafe places.

Boo’s Bad Day is available directly from the publisher, 4RV Publishing, LLC at http://www.4rvpublishingcatalog.com/penny-lockwood.php for $8.99, which includes shipping and handling.  It is also available through Amazon at  http://www.amazon.com/Boos-Bad-Day-Penny-Lockwood/dp/0985266155/ref=cm_cr_pr_product_top for $7.32 with free shipping if you are a prime member.  The book can be ordered through area book stores, using the ISBN number 13: 978-0-9852661-5-8.

Ms. Ehrenkranz plans to contact the Scappoose and St. Helens libraries to donate a copy of the book for the children’s sections.

Penny Lockwood Ehrenkranz has published more than 100 articles, 75 stories, a chapbook, and her stories have been included in two anthologies. She writes for both adults and children. Her fiction has appeared in numerous genre and children’s publications, and non‑fiction work has appeared in a variety of writing, parenting, and young adult print magazines and on line publications.  She edits for MuseItUp Publishing.  Visit her web site at http:// pennylockwoodehrenkranz.yolasite.com. Her writing blog is located at http://pennylockwoodehrenkranz.blogspot.com/.

She has recently released Boo’s Bad Day with 4RV Publishing and has three other children’s books under contract with them: Ghost for Rent, Ghost for Lunch, and Many Colored Coats. She has three romances published by MuseItUp Publishing: Love Delivery, Lady in Waiting, and Mirror, Mirror.  Her short story collection, A Past and A Future, is available through Sam’s Dot Publishing and Smashwords.

 


 
 
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Today I am introducing Mary Waibel, author of the book, Quest Of The Hart. Welcome Mary. So happy to see you here. Can you tell us about your book?

Thanks for having me here C.K. Quest Of The Hart is a A reverse Sleeping Beauty tale where the princess
goes on the quest to save the prince.

A reverse Sleeping Beauty tale where the princess goes on the quest to save the prince.

Princess Kaylee has never had to fight for anything. Her entire life has been arranged, even her marriage. But when Prince Devlin falls under an enchantment, she finds she is willing to do anything to save him, even if it means fighting a dragon.

Devlin's own sister, Princess Arabella, is behind the deadly plot. She wants the throne and will use any means necessary to gain it. Her perfect plan unravels, leaving Devlin caught in a magical sleep that is slowly spreading through the kingdom of Breniera. All Arabella needs to finish
her spell and claim the crown is a drop of Kaylee's blood, but obtaining the single drop is proving more difficult than expected.

To save her betrothed, Kaylee embarks on a quest to find an ancient sword and gather a drop of dragon's blood, while trying to stay out of Arabella's traps. But Arabella's traps aren't the only danger. Time is everything. For once the last inhabitant of the kingdom falls asleep, the spell will be sealed, and not even true love's kiss will break it.

You also have a surprise for us...an interview with a few of your characters. I'm excited to meet them. Without further ado...Please meet Print Devlin!

Mary: Welcome, Prince Devlin.

Devlin: Please, call me Devlin.

(He smiles, his silver eyes shining like coins, and I barely hold back a sigh.)

Me: Oh, well, thank you so much, Devlin, for taking time away from your duties to chat. I'm sure you have so much to do, with your wedding just a week away. And speaking of your wedding, I have a few questions
about Princess Kaylee.

D: I'll answer what I can, but I only have a few minutes. Kaylee and I are going for a ride soon.

Me: I'll be as quick as I can, then. So, how did you and Kaylee meet?

D: We have an arranged marriage. In fact, until a few days ago, I'd never seen her. But, now that I have, I can say she's wonderful. Kind, caring, smart, funny. Did I mention beautiful?

(Princess Arabella saunters in during his descriptions and groans.)

Arabella: Please, isn't there anywhere I can go in this castle where it isn't Kaylee this and Kaylee that? I thought it was bad when it was Devlin this and Devlin that. Things will be different before the day is out, though, I promise you that.

D: What do you mean?

A: Nothing. Aren't you supposed to be out riding with Kaylee?

D: Oh, yes. I'm late. It was very nice meeting you. I hope you enjoy the wedding.

(Devlin leaves, and Arabella smirks.)

A: Not if I have anything to say about it.

(She slinks from the room.)

Me: Well, I guess we'll just have to read Quest of the Hart to see what that was all about!

Thanks for joining me Mary. And many thanks to your characters. Can't wait to read Quest Of The Hart!
C.K. Volnek



 
 
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Today, we have Tammy Lowe here to tell us a little about herself and her new book, The Acadian Secret. I am so excited to have you here us today, Tamara. Please tell your readers something interesting about yourself.

Thanks for having me on your blog today, Charlie.

I live up here in the Great White North with my husband of twenty years and our teenage son. 

From September to June, I am surrounded by preschoolers and covered in glitter and glue.

Once school is out, I grab my hubby and our son and we are off on some grand adventure. We’ve explored pyramids in Egypt and sailed down a river in rural China on a tiny raft.  We’ve slept in the tower of a 15th century Scottish castle, searched for the Loch Ness Monster and have even dined at a Bedouin camp in the Arabian Desert. I love to explore this amazing world of ours. 

Wow, that is so fascinating. You are a true adventurer! What was your favorite book as a teen? Tell us about it and how it affected you as a person.

I read everything under the sun.  So many authors influenced me when I was a teen, from Judy Blume and L.M. Montgomery to Stephen King and Sidney Sheldon.  I remember reading anything by V.C. Andrews too.  Whatever book I was reading at the time was my favourite. 

 
Now, tell us about the genre you have chosen to write for. Why do write specifically for them?

The tween/young adult genre is where my “voice” and personality naturally fit in. I think the genre chose me. 

Tell us about your new book. How did it come about?

As a kid, I loved to read books and watch shows like Little House on the Prairie and Anne of Green Gables.  I loved anything set in the “olden days”.

When I was about ten years old, I began to wonder about time travel.  My biggest wish was that I’d end up back in the pioneer era.  I wanted to go and hang out with spoiled Nellie Olsen.  I don’t remember why I wished for Nellie over Laura Ingalls, but I think it had something to do with the fact that her parents owned the candy shop.

I had it all figured out.  I didn’t want to live in the 18th or 19th century; I’d miss my family too much. And I can’t live without modern comforts.  I wanted the freedom to travel back and forth through time.

My wish to time travel was so strong; I even dressed the part, as much as I could, without raising anyone’s suspicions.  I wore dresses to school every day, when all my friends wore jeans and t-shirts. I had to be prepared just in case it worked and I was whisked through time. That summer, I even begged my mom to buy me a bonnet. She did. I wore that white bonnet everywhere. If I ended up in Walnut Grove or Avonlea, I was prepared. 

By the sixth grade I was old enough to realize that time travel probably wasn’t going to be a reality for me, so I decided when I grew up, I’d write a story about a girl who could travel back and forth through time. 

Fascinating. What’s your favorite part of being a writer?

My favourite part is the editing and revision process.  That seems to be when all the magic happens. 

What advice can you give regarding the writing process?

When you “think” you are finished your novel, put it away for at least six weeks and forget about it.  When the time comes to take it out again, sit back and re-read the entire manuscript. Take notes. You will see a million mistakes and plot holes. Everything that isn’t working will jump out at you. It will be a cringe-worthy read, but you’ll be glad you put it away instead of sending it out.

How can your fans find, follow or friend you?

 You can find me at www.tammylowe.com

BACK COVER:

Elisabeth London is keeping her new friends a secret from her parents.  Not only do they live on the other side of the world in the Scottish Highlands, they lived more than three hundred and fifty years ago. Her mom and dad would never allow her to go gallivanting about seventeenth century Scotland.  They won’t even let her go to the mall by herself yet.

Twelve-year-old Elisabeth is old enough to know there is no such thing as magic, but when her quartz crystal necklace has the power to transport her back and forth in time, she no longer knows what to think.  The only thing she is certain of is that she loves spending carefree days with Quinton, the mischievous nephew of a highland warrior, and sassy little Fiona, a farmer’s daughter. 

However, Elisabeth’s adventures take a deadly turn when she is charged with witchcraft.  At a time and place in history when witch-hunts were common, those found guilty were executed, children included. Elisabeth must race to find her way back home, while trying to stay one step ahead of the witch-hunter determined to see her burned at the stake


 
 
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Today I want to welcome J.Q. Rose to my blog. She has written feature articles in magazines, newspapers and online magazines for over fifteen years. J.Q. entered the world of fiction with her first published novella,  Sunshine Boulevard, released by MuseItUp Publishing in 2011. With Girls Succeed: Stories Behind the Careers of Successful Women she returns to her first love, writing about real people.  Blogging, photography, Pegs and Jokers board games, and travel are the things that keep her out of trouble. Spending winters in Florida with her husband allows Janet the opportunity to enjoy the life of a snowbird. Summer finds her camping and hunting toads, frogs, and salamanders with her four grandsons and granddaughter.


Welcome J.Q. -----

Hi C.K. Thanks for hosting me today so I can tell your readers about the awesome women profiled in my new interactive e-book for girls, Girls Succeed: Stories Behind the Careers of Successful Women.

Hello Readers. I’m excited to visit with you today and look forward to your comments.

Janet-of-All-Trades
By J.Q. Rose

Lighting a one-match campfire, creating a fiery torch from sanitary napkins wrapped around a dead tree branch, preparing food in a commercial kitchen for 20-100 guests. These are just a few of the tasks I learned when I worked three seasons at a girls’ summer camp, Camp Newaygo in Michigan. http://www.campnewaygo.org/ My job title should have been Janet-of-all-Trades, however, officially I was the Business Director. Besides the expected bookkeeping, camp store manager, communication, account records, checking campers in and out, and counting money, I also did food inventory, shopping, transporting campers, cleaning, and anything else necessary to help keep camp running smoothly. And I loved this job!

It wasn’t the actual tasks that made me love it, but rather it was the opportunity to work with loving, caring people who were all interested in providing a safe, fantastic, fun summer experience for girls from 7-17 years old. The counselors were college age women who had the huge responsibility of watching over a cabin full of girls bubbling over with enthusiasm, curiosity, and hi-jinx. Their energy, laughter, and warmth infused me with the same. I was overwhelmed at the thought of the potential of these campers and counselors. I couldn’t help but wonder what was in store for their futures.

This camp experience, as well as being a mother of two daughters, was the spark for the idea of developing a book which could inspire and empower girls to dream big dreams and to equip them with ways to make their dreams come true. The best way to accomplish this is for girls to have role-models to emulate. I profiled these outstanding women who could be a guide for girls to realize they too can be successful in a career that will fulfill them.

It was my privilege to interview fifteen contemporary women who have distinguished careers. These role models are in business, technology, health care, sports, science, education, the arts, and even in transportation (a semi-truck driver.) My heartfelt thanks to them for trusting me to tell their inspiring stories and for allowing me to share them with young girls. I have had so many wonderful comments from the girls’ focus groups on how the stories have resonated with them.

Because C.K. penned such an entertaining story in her book, A Horse Called Trouble, I selected an excerpt from Girls Succeed about horse woman, Pati Pierruci. Pati is a teacher and horse trainer in dressage riding as well as a top competitor at the Gran Prix level. Dressage is the pairing of horse and rider performing together to become one with an exquisite routine of complex movements. This excerpt is from Chapter One, True Love.

EXCERPT:

Pati learned the levels of movement in dressage from talented teachers. She practiced and worked hard to advance her skills for competitions.

She remembers her first performance at the Gran Prix level, one of the highest levels of competition.  She was excited and nervous about the first presentation with her beloved horse, Idilio.  They would be performing under the lights in front of a crowd of 17,000 people.  She wanted to be sure to warm up just enough so that Idilio would be ready, but not tired.  However, there was a delay.  She tried to stay calm. She didn’t want to get too anxious because her horse would pick up on her nervousness and make the stallion uneasy.  Finally after a twenty minute delay, the pair began the dance. 

Pati concentrated on the dressage movements allowing Idilio to perform flawlessly.  A few minutes into the presentation, she realized she was so nervous that she couldn’t swallow.  Saliva kept building up in her mouth, but she could not swallow!  Pati rode her horse through all of the paces, yet she could not swallow.  She began to think that at the end of the performance she would be drooling.   

After performing for six minutes, she heard the crowd start clapping. The performance was over. Finally she could swallow. Happily her nerves did not upset Idilio. He performed so well they made it to the next round.  She never forgot that bit of panic at her first Gran Prix event.  Now she experiences nerves before a routine, but she calls them good nerves because they keep her sharp and ready to perform.

BOOK LINKS: To download a sample which includes the Table of Contents or purchase Girls Succeed, please use these links.

Smashwords Link http://www.smashwords.com/books/view/241825

Amazon Link  http://www.amazon.com/dp/B009NY6ZAS

Kobo Link http://www.kobobooks.com/ebook/Girls-Succeed/book-myLEkD3MME6d8UiRBgthtQ/page1.html?s=lrOG8bTJ60qkeMkE-Y96Vg&r=3

Barnes and Noble Link http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/girls-succeed-jq-rose/1114041658?ean=2940045118033

Sony Link https://ebookstore.sony.com/ebook/j-q-rose/girls-succeed-stories-behind-the-careers-of-successful-women/_/R-400000000000000883970

A Study Guide to accompany the book is now available at amazon.com and smashwords.com.

Connect with J.Q. Rose online at

Girls Succeed blog http://girlssucceed.blogspot.com/

J.Q. Rose blog http://www.jqrose.com/

Author website http://jqrose.webs.com/

J. Q.  Rose Amazon Author Page http://tinyurl.com/aeuv4m4

Visit her trailer at: http://animoto.com/play/QcAByshul5wZ5Bob9bdiug

______


Thanks for joining me today, J.Q. I loved the excerpt....especially when there is a horse involved. :-) Thanks again for joining me and wishing you all the best of success with your great stories.

C.K. Volnek

 
 
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Please help me welcome today, Mr. T. Linden Peters, author of some very exciting thrillers. His latest novel, The Quiet Man, just became available as an e-book on Amazon, Smashwords and Barnes and Noble. Welcome Tom. Can you tell our readers a little about yourself?

Thanks for having me, C.K. I am an ex-lawyer who enjoys playing the violin and giving my dog long walks in the woods.  In between, I write novels.

An ex-lawyer. Very interesting. And it’s very intriguing you play the violin. That is a great talent.  Do any of your characters share in your multitude of talents?

I play the violin in my spare time, classical music mostly, and some of my characters do as well.  The most notable character is Freddy Sevchek in my novel, The Accidental Lover.  Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Apple, Kobo, Smashwords

What was your favorite book as a teen? Tell us about it and how it affected you as a person.

I can’t really remember one book.  I do remember my AP English class, where we read an interminable number of novels, many of them rather long, and I recall having a hard time keeping all the characters straight.  I must have remembered enough of what was going on though, at least until the test, since I got an A.  My favorite writers right now I would have to say are Flannery O’Connor (think Wise Blood) and Graham Greene (think The Power and The Glory and The Third Man).  It’s their ability to shine a piercing light on the motivations of their characters with spare and yet beautiful language that I admire.

Tell us about the genre you have chosen to write for. Why do write specifically for them?

I write adult thrillers and books for younger readers, as well as books with no specific genre, the so-called literary novel.  Authors today are told to write for only one type of market, so that the reader will know what he or she is getting every time a new book comes out.  But how can that be?  Are we all so one-dimensional?  Take a look at my Jake Stone Thrillers, beginning with book one, Deception.  Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Apple, Kobo, Smashwords.

For a literary novel for readers of all ages, check out Gracie and the Preacher.  Amazon, Apple, Barnes & Noble, Smashwords, Kobo

Tell us about your new book, The Quiet Man. How did it come about?

My new book, for which you designed an outstanding cover, is called The Quiet Man.  As with most of my books, the main characters are rather flawed, and the story describes their struggles to sort through their various problems, with or without success. Check it out at the following online book sellers.  Amazon, Amazon UK, Barnes & Noble, Smashwords.

How has writing affected your life? And what’s your favorite part of being a writer?

It certainly gives me something to do on the weekends.  My favorite part of writing is when the book is finally done.

I do agree, finishing a book gives me a great sense of accomplishment. What advice can you give regarding the writing process?

Write fast and hope for the best.

Regarding publication and marketing, what advice can you offer aspiring writers?

Don’t shy away from self publishing.  With the advent of e-books, the stigma has mostly disappeared, and you largely direct the process from start to finish.

How can your fans find, follow or friend you?

You can always visit me on my blog at:  http://tlpeters.blogspot.com.  Listed there are all my novels, all forty two or forty three of them.  Sometimes I lose count. 

Wow…over forty books. I am impressed. Thanks so much for joining us today Tom. I look forward to reading some of your great novels and wish you great success with all of them.

And thanks to our readers for joining us today. Happy New Year!

C.K. Volnek


 
 
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A National Milken Educator and author of 28 books for young readers, Margo Sorenson scrambles to keep up with her grandchildren’s expanding universes in this new digital age. Her most recent middle grade ebook, ISLAND DANGER, was published in July 2012. You can read more about Margo’s books and interviews/reviews on her website, www.margosorenson.com.  Her books can be ordered through many outlets using the website links, including the publishers’ websites, www.amazon.com, and others.

I’m excited to welcome Margo Sorenson and her new book, TIME OF HONOR, to my blog. Here is a brief description:

Fourteen-year-old Connor’s smart mouth gets her in and—luckily—out of trouble on her prep school’s debate team and in the classroom. On a field trip to the U.K., when she is suddenly catapulted into the year 1272, she finds her royal new friends’ lives are threatened by a conspiracy fueled by greed. When William and Maud learn that their father has been murdered on the Crusade, they beg her to help them find who is plotting against them. William must confront his enemy in battle, but what does Connor discover about herself and her ability to use words when she tries to save her new friends—and herself?

Tell your readers about your new book, TIME OF HONOR. How did you come up with your main character, Connor.

I knew I’d need a resourceful character who wasn’t afraid to tangle with anyone, and, having coached speech and debate for many years (yes, I’m a retired NFL coach!), it occurred to me that my debaters were great models for Connor.  They were courageous, quick-witted, and intelligent, and, oh, yes, more than a few had “smart mouths”!  Within a character’s greatest trait lies her “tragic flaw,” the seeds of her own destruction (according to Aristotle. ha), so I decided that her quick-draw speech proclivity could fit perfectly with the plot I was hatching.

How did you come up with the idea for your book? I love historical fiction, especially when it is entwined with present time.

As a medieval history major (anything before 1600 is way too modern for me!), I’d always wanted to live back in the middle ages, and, growing up seeing castles and such in Europe, it wasn’t too big a jump to write myself back into that time.  I’ve written other time-travel adventures (my adventure-biographies of Langston Hughes, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., Cesar Chavez, etc.), and it was always so much fun to juxtapose a modern kid with history, highlighting the contrasts and similarities, so it was a natural plot progression for me.  When I was writing this manuscript, it was always so hard to drag myself back into the 21st century!

Share your favorite excerpt/scene.

That’s a hard question!  One of my favorite scenes in the beginning is when Connor’s new titled friends want her to wear their late mother’s clothing, because what she’s wearing “isn’t seemly,” (think New England hip prep school attire). She cringes, hoping that her new friends are right when they assure her that, indeed, the serving woman has carefully inspected the gown for fleas and other creatures.  To change into the gown, she has to go into the garderobe (privy) and is grossed out by the accommodations.  Now, she is becoming desperate, wondering how she can get back to her own time as soon as possible.  It was really a lot of fun for me to contrast the modern with the medieval all through the story, so there are plenty more of those scenes, including the final face-off between – well, I can’t share the “spoiler”!

What was your favorite book as a teen? Tell us about it and how it affected you as a person.

My favorite book as a teen was – well – there were so many, I can’t pick out just one.  The one that really rocked my world as a young teen, though, was the 1952 novel TO CATCH A THIEF, by David Dodge.  Years later, I saw it as a movie, but nothing could match the thrill I felt when first reading the adventure, set in glamorous foreign venues, with the page-turning plot twists.  How I wish I could write like that!  It made me want to return to Europe and live there – well, not as a cat burglar – but in that atmosphere.  It sounded so exciting, and that memory still motivates me to travel to that part of the world and enjoy the people and culture – but not steal their jewels!

What shaped your decision to write for the younger reader?

As a teacher and as a parent, it was a natural decision, since I spent so much of my life with people who weren’t yet adults – but who thought they were.  I’ve read that one wants to write for the age group where he or she had the most intense experiences, and, for me, that would be the tween ages.  Connecting with young readers is so affirming; they’re full of energy and enthusiasm and are continually full of surprises, and I thoroughly enjoy my school visits with all ages of students.

How has writing affected your life? And what’s your favorite part of being a writer?

Writing has affected my life because I no longer have to grade papers, but I do have to “grade” my own work, when I do the continual revisions.  Because I love playing with words, I get to do what is really enjoyable for me on a daily basis – except for when something isn’t working, and then it’s shoulder to the wheel.  My favorite part of being a writer is communicating with young readers – either through letters and emails they send me – or in author visits to schools, both in person or Skyping.  Kids are so energetic and full of ideas and quirky comments that they keep me on my toes, and it’s really inspirational for my writing.

What advice can you give regarding the writing process?

Ellen Kozak wrote the First Commandment of Writers:  “Thou Shalt Not Fall In Love With Thine Own Words.”  Oh, my goodness, it’s possible that truer words were never written.  How many times have I written something that made me want to jump up and down and holler, “Yes!  Yes!  Yes!”  Then, I put it away for a bit, take it out, and ask myself, “What was I thinking?” What is important is to have a critique partner, someone who knows what your vision is and, at the same time, isn’t afraid to push you to the next level.  I’m blessed to have a dear writer friend, Bonnie Graves (THE BEST WORST DAY, MYSTERY OF THE TOOTH GREMLIN, CALIFORNIA CONDOR: FLYING FREE, etc.) from my years in Minnesota who is my CP, and we email manuscripts and blog posts back and forth to each other.  Once a year we try to get together and our husbands make martinis and converse while we talk stories.

Regarding publication and marketing, what advice can you offer aspiring writers?

Make lists of necessary tasks far in advance (at least six months ahead of publication), using all the resources you’ve been reading on the internet, written by authoritative authors.  Think outside the box for niche marketing.  But, more important, do only what you’re comfortable with.  I can’t do a blog, because I know I’d be driven to blog every day, and, then, where would my writing be?  I couldn’t handle both, though I know many writers who do a wonderful job of it (are you blushing, yet?).  Twitter is fine, but I do have to limit my time, because I’m enticed to follow all those links, and, although they can be very illuminating, at the same time, I’m know I’m shorting my writing life.  To be courteous and kind to all is probably the very most important advice.  Never underestimate the power of a simple, heartfelt “thank you.”

How can your fans find, follow or friend you?

My wonderful website designer is always updating my website with new links to posts and blogs and free lesson plans for my books.  http://margosorenson.com/

You can follow me (and please do!) on Twitter as @ipapaverison (the first three words of my favorite Italian childhood song), where I tweet about education, writing, reading, and some just plain silly stuff.

Thank you so much, C.K., for inviting me to be a guest on your great blog again!  Aloha!

It was so wonderful to have you visit, Margo. I’m thrilled for your successes and can’t wait for our readers to share your stories!

C.K. Volnek


 
 
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 ANIMAL ANDY  ~ book description:

Ten-year-old Andy Ohman is spending his summer working at the Aksarben City Zoo where his dad is curator. There are rumors that the city might close the zoo due to budget cuts. An anonymous donor has given the zoo an antique animal carousel, and Andy’s dad is hopeful it will help boost attendance. Andy’s doubtful that an old kiddie ride will make a difference. He doesn’t see what’s so special about it. But when he takes it for a spin, he unlocks the magic that will help save the zoo.

Andy is here today to tell you about himself and his adventures at Aksarben City Zoo. Welcome, Andy!

Thanks! My dad has been a zoo keeper forever. The last couple of summers he’d bring me to work with him and I’d get to ride around and watch him take care of the animals. He taught me a lot, and it was really cool spending all that time with him.

 

Then over the winter he got promoted to curator, which means he’s not as hands-on with the animals. Now he has lots of meetings and paperwork and stuff to do. I still get to be at the zoo this summer, but I don’t get to work with my dad. Instead, I have to clean out the hoofstock barn and wash windows in the giraffe exhibit. It’s still fun, but I miss working with him.

What can you tell us about the rumors that the city might close the zoo?

My dad said the city has to make budget cuts, and since our zoo is small, the city is considering closing it. My dad is doing everything he can to make sure that won’t happen. That’s why he was so excited when someone donated the old carousel to the zoo. He thought it’d bring in more visitors.

And did the carousel help do that?

It did way more than help bring in visitors! The carousel is called the Magical Menagerie, and it’s definitely magical! I found that out the first time I snuck on and rode it by myself. One minute I’m sitting on the carousel’s zebra, and the next thing I know I had actually become a zebra! It totally freaked me out!

That’s unbelievable! What did you do?

Luckily, one of the zoo’s peacocks, Philippe, saw me right away and helped me stay undercover. He’s kind of a snob, but he knew what to do. Liza—she’s one of the real zebras—she was super nice and helped me, too. But the head of the antelope herd was a real bully. His name is Big Mack. He almost made me get caught.

 

What happened?

I hid out in the hoofstock barn and accidentally fell asleep. The hoofstock supervisor found me in there, but I had turned back into a person before he saw me. That’s part of the carousel’s magic—it decides when to turn you into an animal and when to turn you back.

How does the carousel’s magic work?

The guy who donated the carousel tried explaining it to me. His name is Zeb. He said the carousel has been around for a really long time. It senses when a zoo and its animals are in trouble and waits for the right person to come along who can help. I guess I’m that person.

How did you help the zoo?

Every time one of the animals needed help, I rode the carousel and turned into that animal. That way, I could talk to them and find out what was wrong. It’s so cool being an animal. But it got me into a lot of trouble, too. Especially with my dad. And it’s not like I could tell him what was really going on. He’d never believe me. It was bad enough when one of my friends saw me as a cheetah. After that, I swore I was never going to ride the carousel again, but then something awful happened at the zoo.

What was it?

One of the elephants attacked its keeper, and she got hurt really bad. It didn’t make any sense. Raj, the elephant, would never hurt anybody. I had to find out the truth, but when I went to ride the carousel, its magic was gone. Zeb said I had to use my human instincts to figure out what happened. If I didn’t, the city would close the zoo for sure.



Who do you think will like to read ANIMAL ANDY?

Kathy Rygg, the author, wrote it for kids ages 6-10, but anyone who loves animals and likes stories with some magic in it will enjoy it. All of the books she writes are magical realism, which makes them a lot of fun.

Where can readers find ANIMAL ANDY?

The ebook is published by Muse It Up Publishing and is available online at the Muse Bookstore. A print version will be available soon on Amazon. Here’s a neat video trailer for it, too.

Kathy Rygg has a children’s chapter book that is also available both as an ebook and in print on Amazon called TALL TALES WITH MR. K and it’s about a magical teacher who takes his students on fun adventures in the one place they least expect—the teacher’s lounge.

Kathy Rygg’s blog site is http://ksrwriter.blogspot.com

Follow her on Facebook under KSR Writer

Follow her on Twitter @kathyrygg

Thanks for having me! This was really cool!

Thank you for joining us today, Andy. It’s been a pleasure to have you here as well as very entertaining. I hope all our readers will pick up a copy of Animal Andy. It’s a great story!

C.K. Volnek



 
 
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Anne E. Johnson is writes fiction for both adults and children. She has been fortunate (and overwhelmed) to have her first three novels published this summer: Ebenezer’s Locker, a tween paranormal mystery; Green Light Delivery, a humorous science fiction novel for adults; most recently, Trouble at the Scriptorium, a medieval mystery for tweens. She has also published about thirty short stories in a variety of genres, and she’s the author of the kids’ sci-fi short story series, Aliens & Weird Stuff. Anne lives in Brooklyn with her husband, playwright Ken Munch.

1.) Tell your readers something interesting about yourself AND/OR your favorite character.

I have a master’s degree in medieval musicology, and I taught music history for over fifteen years. That was the main reason I wrote Trouble at the Scriptorium. I wanted to share the fascinating topic of medieval music with kids.

2.) What was your favorite book as a tween? Tell us about it and how it affected you as a person.

When I was in middle school, my favorite book was My Brother Sam Is Dead, by James Lincoln Collier, the Newbery-award-winning novel about a boy whose brother is killed in the American Revolution. It’s a devastating book, but somehow also filled with love, adventure, longing, curiosity, and all sorts of other emotions that kids are going through just before they hit their teens. I’m sure I read it ten times, and I cried every time.

I think that book taught me two essential things: that a fictional character can be completely real to a reader, and that the most intense emotions can be expressed with the written word.

3.) Tell us about the genre you have chosen to write for. Why do write specifically for them?

I chose the mystery genre because it seemed like a fun way to teach about medieval church music, the crafting of books in the Middle Ages, the feudal system, etc., without the book seeming like it was teaching! My hope is that the reader will get so caught up in the characters and plot that the details about medieval life will be an integral part of an exciting experience.

4.) Tell us about your new book. How did it come about and share your favorite excerpt/scene.

Trouble at the Scriptorium takes place in thirteenth-century England, in a feudal castle north of London. In the opening scene, the main character, a servant boy named Harley, has just been visiting his uncle, the choirmaster at the local monastery. Harley tries to impress the castle guard, Martin, by telling him about the new book of Gregorian chant he’s just seen:

Harley squinted at the figure of a man on horseback, silhouetted in the evening sun.  The animal whinnied and stomped, and its broad-chested rider leaned forward, reaching a hand down toward the slender boy as if to scoop him up.

            “Jump on, Harley.  Your mother wants you back at the castle.”

            “Oh, it’s you, Martin!”  Relieved, Harley greeted his longtime friend Martin of Hibernia, chief castle guard.   Martin was practically a father to Harley.  His real dad was a traveling jester, gone for months or even a year at a time, entertaining in castles and fairs all over England. 

As Harley mounted Courage, Martin’s dappled steed, he heard the muted sound of men singing behind the monastery wall.  The music was confused and off-key.  Harley wrinkled his nose.  “Ew, listen to that.  The monks usually sing great.  But that sounds like they’re fighting, like half of them don’t know the right notes.”

            The soldier shook his head.  “I really couldn’t tell.  Why do you always hang around the monastery, anyway?  I know your uncle lives here, but you should be at home helping your mother at the castle and learning your father’s trade.”

            “Who’s going to teach me to be a jester?  My father’s never there, so I have to teach myself.”   Blowing out his breath sharply, Harley swung himself up onto Courage’s rump.  He was tired of Martin trying to keep him from the monastery.  “At least the Brothers have a sense of humor, so I can practice amusing them.”

            “Really?  You’re sure that’s not a sin?  What stories did you tell them today?”

            “That’s not why I came today.  I came to see the new book.”  Harley’s voice shook with Courage’s constant hoof-beats against the rocky road.  It felt like someone was banging on his chest as he spoke.  He held on more tightly, pressing his ear to the middle of Martin’s back.  He could feel the chainmail under the guard’s green wool uniform.  “Don’t you want to know about the book?” Harley prodded.

            “I really don’t care about books,” Martin shouted back over the rushing wind and clattering hooves.  “I’ve never even held a book in my hand.  My family sure couldn’t afford one.  I think Lady Ursula owns one or two, and I’ve seen the Bible on the chapel altar, of course.”

            Harley waited, knowing his friend could not resist a story.  He watched the farmland pass as they rode, the wheat fields readied for a winter’s rest.

            Sure enough, Martin gave in.  “Okay, okay. Tell me about the book.”

            “It’s a huge book with a leather binding, full of holy Gregorian chant.”

            “Well, it would be, since it’s for the monks.”

            Harley laughed and gave Martin’s back a playful punch. “No! It’s a special book.  It’s illuminated.”

“It’s what?”

“Illuminated!  It’s got real gold and colored painting on every page.  Sir William paid for it.  It’s dedicated to St. Ursula, Lady Ursula’s patron saint.  They’re going to use it at her name-day celebration next week.  It’s just amazing.”

            “How nice for her, how nice for them.  But that’s not much of a story.  Whoa, boy!” Martin yanked Courage’s reins to the left, to avoid a hedgehog scurrying out of the bushes.

5.) How has writing affected your life? And what’s your favorite part of being a writer?

A few months ago, a resigned from my college teaching job in order to write fiction full-time. That should give you some idea of how important writing is in my life! I simply can’t stop writing, and I’m always buried in far more plot ideas than I could ever bring to fruition.

I love the creativity of writing, I love being responsible for my own productivity, and I love the communal spirit that writers have with each other online. I’m also proud to create a product; nothing gives me a kick like seeing a list of my publications or a page of my book covers.

6.) What advice can you give regarding the writing process?

My greatest advice is the old chestnut: Write every day. But I’d add that you have to finish things. It’s so tempting (and I’ve gone through periods of doing this) to keep starting new works without seeing any one of them to its end. It can be painful to fight through to the end sometime, but it’s absolutely necessary. If you don’t like it when you’re done, you can always revise it.

7.) Regarding publication and marketing, what advice can you offer aspiring writers?

Another old chestnuts: Don’t let rejections get you down. But don’t just put them out of your mind. Learn from them. Could you improve that story? Are you marketing to the wrong people? Are there some genres you have more success with than others? If you can’t seem to get an agent, should you start your query from scratch? Should you proceed without an agent for a while first?

Just keep questioning, every single day, about the writing itself and about the endless task of marketing. There’s always more to learn.

8.) How can your fans find, follow or friend you?

My website is http://anneejohnson.com/

You can get updates on my publications and events on my Facebook author page. https://www.facebook.com/pages/Anne-E-Johnson-Author/249053641780972

And I tweet about my writing process and news as @AnneEJohnson.

You can purchase Trouble at the Scriptorium directly from Royal Fireworks Press: http://www.rfwp.com/browse/novels

Thanks for joining me today, Anne. Your books sound marvelous. 

C.K. Volnek

 
 
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I have exciting news. My tween novel, A Horse Called Trouble is FREE on Amazon for Kindle Thursday and Friday, June 21 and 22. I hope you'll let all your friends know so they can take advantage of this FREE celebration. 


http://www.amazon.com/A-Horse-Called-Trouble-ebook/dp/B006N0M48M/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&qid=1340214787&sr=8-2&keywords=a+horse+called+trouble 

The blurb for the story...

A troubled teen must overcome her abusive past to save the defiant horse that taught her to love and trust again.

A Horse Called Trouble

Tara Cummings hasn't had an easy life. Abandoned by her mother at the young age of seven, she's been passed from foster home to foster home; not wanted anywhere by anyone. At thirteen she finds herself skeptic and suspicious, with no family, no friends and forced to participate in horse therapy.

Horse therapy 'will teach trust, perseverance, respect and the value of teamwork", or so says the program's instructor. Tara is unconvinced. Trust only got her heart broken, perseverance only gets her put down, and no on respects or wants to team up with the misfit foster kid.

At the horse farm, Tara meets Trouble, an angry and defiant horse, bent on destroying everything and everyone around him. At first Tara is afraid until she realizes the horse is as misunderstood and untrusting as she is. She pushes aside her fear and a special relationship is formed as she alone manages to calm him, much to the surprise of everyone on the farm. Trouble trust Tara, and she in turn finds hope and acceptance as well as the will to love and trust again.

Tara's self-esteem grows through the program as she begins to work through her shyness and reservations. But her confidence is shaken as an even greater challenge looms ahead. Trouble's manipulative owner is determined to have him destroyed because of his 'dangerous' nature. Tara must overcome her own limitations and fight to save the horse that has freed her heart and given her life value and meaning.

Thanks! I hope you enjoy the FREE book!

http://www.amazon.com/A-Horse-Called-Trouble-ebook/dp/B006N0M48M/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&qid=1340214787&sr=8-2&keywords=a+horse+called+trouble


 
 
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Today I welcome a wonderful author who I’ve had the privilege to get to know. Meradeth Houston is the creator of the new novel, Colors Like Memories:

 Julia has a secret: she killed the guy she loved. It was an accident—sort of. 

(I also had the privilege of creating the cover for Colors Like Memories, so it’s a special treat for me to interview Meradeth. )

So happy to have you on the Mind’s Eye Meradeth. Can you tell your readers something interesting about yourself AND/OR your favorite character.

I’m really not that interesting of a person, but here’s one random tidbit that I don’t often share: I don’t eat veggies, or at least as many as I can possible avoid :). I know, I know, this isn’t healthy, but I’m just not a fan!

Lol. I’d rather eat cake too. ;-) So, what was your favorite book as a teen? Tell us about it and how it affected you as a person.

I had a lot of favorite books when I was younger! As a teen, specifically, I read a lot of adult books (YA wasn’t as big then, sadly). One that still sticks with me is The Thorn Birds, which I read and loved as a Junior in high school. It was so rich, and lovely, and sad! One of those books that I still carry around in my head.

I love a book that grabs you and won’t disappear from your memory. Tell us about the genre you have chosen to write for. Why do write specifically for them?

I write YA, on the older end of the spectrum (more for the 16/17+ crowd). I write for this group mainly because that the age reading most helped me out. Escaping into a good book during that time really helped me relax and find some peace, and I hope that by providing something fun and interesting to read, I can allow others the opportunity to do the same!

Now the exciting part. Tell us about your new book. How did it come about and share your favorite excerpt/scene.
My book, Colors Like Memories, came about because of a song. I had already written several books set in the same world of the Sary, but then I was driving home one night and heard a Linkin Park song on the radion (Shadow of a Day—an old song now, I know!), and it just kind of hit me, the plot, the characters, the whole thing. And I had to sit down and write it out!

Here’s a little tidbit from the opening: “I greeted his tombstone the way I always did—with a swift kick. The release of frustration was more than worth the sharp pain in my toes. The polished marble tilted to the left because of all my visits; a crooked tooth in the rows of pearly white graves.”

I can’t wait to read it! How has writing affected your life? And what’s your favorite part of being a writer?

Writing is such a big part of my life I have a hard time imagining what it would be like without it! Writing provides me with a release and an escape that I need, especially when the real world just gets too overwhelming. My favorite part of writing is being swallowed by the page, or falling into the story so much I forget that I’m actually writing it, but living it instead :).

What advice can you give regarding the writing process?

Keep writing! Always, just keep getting words on paper. They don’t have to be good, but eventually they will be!

Regarding publication and marketing, what advice can you offer aspiring writers?

Hah! I’m stumbling around in the dark on this one, it seems. I guess, just be friendly. And open to trying new things!

I know you’ll do great with your book, but I’m wishing you all the best with this beautiful novel. How can your fans find, follow or friend you?

I’m all over the web!

www.MeradethHouston.com
meradethhouston.blogspot.com
https://twitter.com/#!/MeradethHouston
www.goodreads.com/book/show/13030422-colors-like-memories
http://www.facebook.com/ColorsLikeMemories
http://pinterest.com/merbear95695/

I also have a contest running for my blog tour—all commenter’s are entered into a drawing for two copies of my book, and one person will win a $25 giftcard to Amazon or Barnes & Noble. There are more details on my home blog, if you want to check it out!

A bit about the Colors Like Memories:

Julia is a Sary, the soul of a child who died before taking her first breath. Without this 'breath of life' she and others like her must help those on the verge of suicide. It's a job Julia used to enjoy, until the accident that claimed her boyfriend’s life—an accident she knows was her fault. If living with the guilt weren't enough, she's now assigned to help a girl dealing with the loss of her mother, something Julia's not exactly the best role model for. If she can't figure out a way to help her, Julia's going to lose her position in the Sary, something she swore to her boyfriend would never happen.

Release date: May 11th 2012 from MuseItUp Publishing.
A bit about Meradeth Houston:

Meradeth’s never been a big fan of talking about herself, but if you really want to know, here are some random tidbits about her:

* She’s a Northern California girl. This generally means she talks too fast and use "like" a lot.
* When she’s not writing, she’s sequencing dead people’s DNA. For fun!
* She’s been writing since she was 11 years old. It's her hobby, her passion, and she’s so happy to get to share her work!
* If she could have a super-power, it would totally be flying. Which is a little strange, because she’s terrified of heights.


Thanks for joining me today Meradeth! And for our readers, be sure to check Meradeth’s web page to be included in her great giveaway! Who wouldn’t want a $25 gift card?

C.K. Volnek