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August 19, 2019

The Story Behind the Story


When an author writes a novel, they make up the characters and the story, but the character, setting, story arc doesn’t just appear out of nowhere. There is usually a story behind the story. Often several little stories that an author tweaks and cobbles together to mold into the main character or the supporting character. Sometimes they will set their story in a real place. Other times they will create a fictional place that has aspects of places they’ve visited or lived.

In my new series, The Story Behind the Story, I want to share with you some of the stories behind my stories. Though I have never outright written a person I know into a book, I have definitely been influenced by those who have crossed my path, as well as places I’ve visited or even simply passed through throughout the many years I’ve been on this earth. Feel free to ask questions or leave comments. I love, love, love to talk books or hear moments of your own life it might remind you of.

The Ugly Duckling Story Behind the Story

Most of us are familiar with the story of The Ugly Duckling. Well, I knew one in real life. He wasn’t actually ever ugly, but he had a nerdy look about him. Big, oversized glasses, his thick hair in almost a bowl cut. Other than the nerd aspect, he was incredibly average looking. Someone who blended in and was easily overlooked and forgotten.

At the end of summer, just before I started my junior year of high school (I think. Might have been senior year) my girlfriend and I were bowling one afternoon. There were a couple boys an alley down from us and they kept talking to us. Mostly making comments about our awesome (cough cough) bowling skills. But then the comments started to get a little personal and it was clear that one boy knew my friend and had known her since grade school. (I’d only moved there a year or so before.)

But she didn’t know him.

That was a bit alarming. She asked his name, but he wanted her to guess. It was only when she started getting visibly upset that he finally shared his name and at first we didn’t believe him. I’m sure you can guess it was the nerdy boy – the one who disappeared into the woodwork – but he wasn’t nerdy anymore. He’d gotten contacts and was wearing his hair in a different style and he was really cute! He was so transformed that it took us quite a while to “see” the nerdy boy in him in order to believe he was who he said he was. His good looks had provided him all sorts of confidence he hadn’t had before either, so even his mannerisms had changed.

That one afternoon’s experience is what I drew on when I developed the character Lawrence Nightingale in The Lumpy Duckling. I wanted to show that sort of transformation in a character, but I also wanted to explore what it might do to his closest friendship. And—in my story at least—it isn’t an easy thing to adapt to.

Friendship is a tricky thing. Navigating change and growth is even trickier. Kids in their pre-teen and teen years almost inevitably loose friendships because one changes and the other doesn’t/can’t/won’t.

If you know a child navigating the trials of friendship and growth, check out The Lumpy Duckling, available in print, ebook, and audiobook.

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What memorable moment in your life mimicked a fairy tale? 

August 14, 2019

The Year of the Audiobook

Though I haven't published any new books this year, I have been busy boosting my library of audiobooks.

Here is what I have available on Audible, Amazon, iTunes under both my pseudonyms:

The Weaver Tales series by Kai Strand


The Weaver

Finalist in the 2012 EPIC Ebook Awards and the 2012 Global Ebook Awards
In a town of word weavers, Mary suffers through her third year of Novice Word Weaving. Mary thinks her troubles are over when she meets a gnome-elf who grants her a wish. But instead of weaving a better story, she's weaving strange yarn charms to accompany her still pathetic tales.

The Wishing Well

Molly Minstrel is treated worse than Cinderella by her mom and sisters. When Molly meets the magical creature, Unwanted, she wishes her problems away. However, you must first understand what you need before knowing what to ask for. Molly will have to look within for the solution to her troubles. 

The Lumpy Duckling

Lumpy may be hefty with a misshapen mouth, but he’s funny and the most loyal friend Wheezy could ask for. When she meets Unwanted, she casts a wish for people to be able to see her best friend like she does. Her wish nearly kills him.


Save the Lemmings by Kai Strand


Eighth grade inventor Natalie Edwards doesn’t mind that her classmates cringe at her inspirational sayings and monochromatic outfits. Her parent’s love and the support of her three best friends make it easy to ignore the eye rolls and head shakes. But after her invention, the Texty-Talky, goes nationwide, the media considers her the new “IT” girl and it changes everything at school, at home, and with her friends. 


Then a reporter prints a story about Natalie’s unfortunate graffiti incident and even her squeaky clean reputation is shattered. Natalie’s sunny disposition is stretched to the limits when reports surface of her stealing her invention from aliens. She’s desperate to regain control of her life before she loses everything to the media storm. Will she be able to disprove the lies being printed and stay true to who she really is? Or will the pressure prove too much?

I Am Me by Kai Strand

Finalist in the 2018 Wishing Shelf Awards

Despite-or perhaps because of-her fancy car, private school education, and life of privilege, Lola Renaldi has become a volunteer junkie. Feeding the hungry, clothing the poor, visiting the elderly-if it's a good cause, she's done it.

Lola's favorite stint, building affordable houses, puts her directly in the path of Rodney. He refuses to discuss why he's doing community service, but it's clear he's hiding something dark about his past. As their friendship grows, Lola begins to question the true reasons for her obsessive volunteerism and her view of those she has pledged to help.

She is only beginning to understand how lucky she truly is when her life falls apart. After losing friends, her boyfriend, even Rodney, Lola finally recognizes which parts of her life she wants to hang on to and what specifically she wants to go after. But with all she's been through, will she be able to hang onto who she wants to be? Or will she lose all that defines her?


Touched by Afterlife series by LA Dragoni


Ghost Touch

For fifteen minutes each night a portal opens in Tamara's barn and a horde of ghosts spills into her yard. She and Dex work together to find a way to help Cal and the thousands of spirits stuck in the void to cross over. When she learns she has the ghost touch—the ability to touch the ghosts as if they were corporeal—and she accidentally helps a little boy cross, she believes it might be possible. But not all the spirits play nice and when they learn they can sip energy from her ghost touch, they become greedy putting her life at risk.

Each time Cal has to pull her from the mass of ghosts, her touch restores him more and more until he is at danger of being stuck on earth—forever, which is very enticing to Tamara the better she knows him. Will she and Dex figure out how to help the spirits cross and if they do, will she be able to let Cal go?
***

I've been kicking around whether or not to contact my publisher about the Super Villain Academy series. Would listeners like to have that series available? I'm also planning on re-publishing my middle grade, Beware of the White. I'll be revising it and probably retitling it, but plan to release an audiobook at the same time. No ETA on that. 

Have you listened to any of my audiobooks? Have a favorite? Let me know in comments.

August 12, 2019

Quick Hello

Hey everybody!

I wanted to hop on here real quick to say, "Hi!"

I'm interrupting the song of crickets chirping to share a quick update. If you are taking the time to read this note, you must be my bestest friend or just stalling to avoid some task or chore in your own life. It has been too long since I've posted. *sheepish grin*

I just wanted to let you guys know that I'm monetizing my site. If you need to pick up a copy of one of my books or something that I recommend here on my blog (or in my newsletter), please click on the "I'm an Amazon Affiliate" link in the right side bar or an affiliate link in whatever post you're reading. It helps me out by making me a couple more cents.

Though, with you, I will always be mostly an author. I'm excited to share more of the books and products that make a difference in my life. I realized that I really appreciate when people share their positive experiences, so maybe some of you will appreciate it too.

Thanks for reading and have a GREAT week!

April 1, 2019

The Anti-hero – Walking the line between good guy and bad guy

I wrote this post when King of Bad first published. But I thought I'd run it now since I've written another anti-hero. Writing a good bad guy is an interesting journey. You're constantly wondering if you have enough badness for it to be believable, with enough goodness that your readers won't abandon him/her.


The Anti-hero – Walking the line between good guy and bad guy


Creating a villain as the hero turned out to be far trickier than I imagined when I first dreamed up the idea for King of Bad.

Generally, creating the hero is easy. Some of the main character traits of a good hero are likability, relatability, believable flaws, true heart, clear mission/goal, honesty.

Now let’s define the common character traits of a good villain. Cleverness, charm, understandable anger, good back story, deceit.

The supporting villain characters in King of Bad came together easily because I could follow the good villain mold. We totally buy-in to Set’s arrogance because he has complete control over his weather abilities, and he’s god-like gorgeous. Mystic is a believable villainess first and foremost because her superpower is psychic suave. Anyone who can play with your head and your emotions – and enjoy doing it – has to be bad, right?

It was much harder to create the villain as a hero character, Jeff. Villains don’t care about other people, they don’t have friends. Rather, they form loose bonds with people whose abilities and goals align with their own and benefit them the most. Yet, you can’t very well have a main character who won’t give two shakes about anyone but himself and expect readers to take his side and route for him. So, I had to offset Jeff’s bad with some good. Maybe not a lot, but enough to make him likable. So, he had to be not-as-bad as the other kids at Super Villain Academy and he had to question their motives. 

Needless to say, when you read King of Bad, remember these kids are villains and are motivated by different morals and goals. When Oceanus pulls water from the overhead sprinklers for Jeff to freeze during battle, she isn’t doing it because she cares for Jeff and wants to help a friend. She’s doing it, because it’s fun to beat the other guys!


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