July 20, 2011

Three Times A Charm With Kelly Hashway

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

This week we are joined by Kelly Hashway, author of May the Best Dog Win. Here is more about Kelly:
Kelly Hashway writes short stories and books for children of all ages. Kelly’s debut picture book, May the Best Dog Win, released April 30, 2011 through FutureWord Publishing, and she recently signed a contract with Guardian Angel Publishing for her second picture book. Her middle grade and young adult works are represented by Lauren Hammond of ADA Management.

Wow, Kelly, it sounds like you are on fire! Tell us about your current title.

May the Best Dog Win is the story of Dash, a mixed breed dog who has the perfect life until the Super Sweeper 5000 shows up on his doorstep. Sweeper runs all over the house sucking up the leftover food scraps, and he even gets his own room! But Dash won’t give up his place as the favorite dog without a fight.

Sounds adorable! I can think of several kids I know who love dog books.

Now, for the Threes. Share with us your top 3’s to help us know you a little better.
  • Top 3 books you’ve read in the past year.

            Hush, Hush and Crescendo by Becca Fitzpatrick are two great books I recently finished. I devoured them both. I wasn’t even a fan of angel books, but these kept me interested and before I knew it, I was in love with the characters and the story. I can’t wait to read Silence, the next book in the series. For the third book, I’d have to say Cross My Heart and Hope to Spy by Ally Carter. This was just a fun read. Who doesn’t love a good spy book, especially when the spy is a girl?

  • Top 3 pieces of advice for people just starting in your business.

            First read everything you can get your hands on because the best way to learn about the craft is from the people who do it best. Second critique other people’s work. You really learn a lot about your own writing by reading the work of others and finding ways to make their writing stronger. It’s not always easy to see weaknesses in your own work, but you can recognize it other people’s writing and then you’re not only helping someone else, but you’re also helping yourself become a better writer. And third, celebrate the steps along the way. This is a tough industry, and small successes deserve attention. Take the time to be happy about finishing the manuscript, about finding the courage to submit your work for others to read, etc. All of these things take courage and should be recognized as achievements.

(Sound advice!)

  • Top 3 authors.
            Rick Riordan (Percy Jackson series), Wendelin Van Draanen (Sammy Keyes series), and Kelley Armstrong (Darkest Powers series). They all have great voices that leap off the page with the very first sentence. Voice is the most important thing to me when choosing books to read. If a book has a great voice, I’ll read it—regardless of the genre.

Kelly, where can our readers find more about you, your books and your growing career?

Kelly, thank you for visiting with us. I look forward to working with you as a fellow “Angel” at Guardian Angel Publishing. Best of luck to you and May the Best Dog Win!


July 19, 2011

What's Your Writerly Craving?

It is like a hunger that won’t be satiated. A thirst that won’t be quenched. It seems like I drink and drink only to feel more parched. You know that mosquito bite on the arch of your foot? The one you scratch until it’s raw, but still itches? It’s like that. It feels like the need is eating away inside me and leaving a growing hollowness, like a big dying tree.

What is it? Come on, you’re a writer, you know.

The continual need to be published. The overwhelming desire to hear, “Yes, I want to publish this.” The satisfying validation that your work is good enough for someone to invest time and money into so that the world can enjoy it too. The comfort that only comes when you know your material is being read by the all-important READER!

Apparently having all day to write, research, submit doesn’t sate that hunger. Perhaps I’m in a transition period and the empty inbox at the end of the day won’t always inspire the crushing thought “I didn’t accomplish anything today.” Perhaps it is the uncharacteristic four straight days of rain that has me gloomy. All I know is that when my husband left for work this morning I was overwhelmed by my lack of participation in the well-being of the family.

I believe in my writing. I do. I do. I don’t feel so strongly about my ability to sell it, but I keep trying.  Who else out there understands that hollow spot inside that grows and shrinks with the content of the inbox or with a phone call? Who else assumes they need chocolate only to find you are still craving the elusive something afterward?

What does your craving feel like?

July 18, 2011

Linda Valderrama Presents Brush Barry Brush

Today I am pleased to host Linda Valderrama and her book, Brush Barry Brush, as part of her World of Ink Book Tour.

Linda Valderrama R.D.H. has over 25 years experience as a dental hygienist. She has treated patients from ages two to one hundred years old and has successfully developed preventative oral hygiene programs tailored to individual needs. Linda is a strong believer that good oral hygiene habits lead to good overall health and that these daily habits must be acquired early in life. She is working towards developing programs for schools, assisted living facilities and healthcare institutions to enable them to offer more effective oral hygiene programs.

I asked Linda some questions about her and her book, Brush Barry Brush.

Kai: What age range is Brush Barry Brush for?
Linda: The age range is for children 3-6 yrs old.

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

Linda: I always had good experiences at the dentist. I remember that he gave away good prizes at the end of an appointment, and I actually had fun when I went there. I remember my mom limiting candy around the house. At that time there was not ever any discussion about plaque or brushing after eating.
Kai: How has life changed for children today than when you were that age?

Linda: Now, we know exactly why cavities happen. Preventative measures can keep teeth healthy for a lifetime. I think that most parents know about the importance of early childhood education and try to teach their children more, at an early age.

Kai: How is life still the same?
Linda: Parents love their children and want the best for them.  They want them to have the best chance of living a healthy, long life.

Kai: What was your favorite toy or activity when you were that age?
Linda: I do not remember a favorite toy but in old family movies it looks like I was always doing cartwheels!

Kai: What inspired Brush Barry Brush and how did you decide on this age range for your story?

Linda: Early Childhood Caries (decay) is at a crisis level even here in the United States. Fifty percent of young children have cavities before they reach second grade. It is one of the most prevalent chronic childhood diseases, yet it is preventable. Since this is my area of expertise. I wanted to write a book that would get across the very simple idea that tooth brushing after eating whenever possible is very important. Anyone can do it and it is a key factor in preventing decay. In the first five to six years kids are most impressionable and able to learn easily. They will establish daily routines that stay with them forever.

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 Brush Barry Brush?

Linda: I would include in a brightly decorated basket:
a tube of children's toothpaste in a great flavor
several  colorful children  size toothbrushes
a decorated mirror
      a minute sand timer 
      some crayons and activity sheets like a maze (http://www.shirleysgirlpublications.com) and age appropriate coloring pages and/or materials to color and make a placemat. 
      words to brushing songs
      an extra sheet of stickers  
The basket could be personalized depending on boy or girl and the child's age and interests.

Kai: You can find out more about Linda Valderrama’s World of Ink Author/Book Tour schedule at http://storiesforchildrenpublishing.com/LindaValderrama.aspx. There are giveaways, reviews, interviews, guest posts and more. Please feel free to interact with Valderrama and the hosts at the different stops by leaving comments and/or questions. Valderrama will be checking in throughout the tour and is offering an additional giveaway for those who leave comments throughout the tour.

In addition, listen live, TODAY, July 18, 2011 at 2pm EST (11am Pacific) to Blog Talk Radio’s World of Ink Network show: Stories for Children at http://www.blogtalkradio.com/worldofinknetwork. Hosts VS Grenier, Kris Quinn Chirstopherson and Irene Roth will chat with Linda Valderrama R.D. H. about her book, writing, the publishing industry and experiences with virtual tours.

Thank you, Linda, for visiting with us today. Keep up the good work!

July 14, 2011


Livejournal reader, Kelly Hashway won the pdf copy of ALEX from Dianne Hartsock!

Congrats Kelly!!! Enjoy the book.

Thanks everybody for sharing your favorite authors with us.

July 12, 2011

Three Times A Charm With Dianne Hartsock

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

This week it is SUPER exciting for me to welcome my wonderful sister-in-law, Dianne Hartsock, to Strands of Thought. Dianne is offering a giveaway to early birds, see info at the end of the interview.

Dianne, of course I know absolutely everything about you, but our readers don’t, can you tell us a little about yourself?

I live in the beautiful Willamette Valley of Oregon with my incredibly patient husband, who puts up with the endless hours I spend hunched over the keyboard letting my characters play.
Currently, I work as a floral designer in a locally-owned gift shop. Which really is the perfect job for me. When not writing, I can express myself through the rich colors and textures of flowers and foliage.
Dianne, you’ve just had a novel released. Can you tell us about it?

With ALEX, I wanted to take a different approach than the usual serial killer/psychic story. This is a story of a young man able to experience other people’s emotions and sometimes see their thoughts. The story is told from Alex’s unique perspective, his thoughts and emotions and how he deals with his ‘gift’ in a doubting world.

Severely abused as a child, Alex is left with horrible scars on his body and even worse scars within his mind. Even though it puts him in danger, he’s compelled to help those who call to him. He’s driven, motivated by his visions to rescue them and uncover the killer. When he can, he helps the police; yet some detectives suspect he’s the cause of the problem, not the solution. Often, Alex finds himself alone and afraid in a world he doesn’t always comprehend.

Usually I invite only those involved in children’s publishing to participate in Three Times A Charm. Dianne’s book, ALEX, is billed as an adult book, but I must say it struck me as a great crossover from young adult to adult. The main character, Alex, is a na├»ve, emotionally damaged 20 years old. It has left him vulnerable and young for his age, but he comes up against situations that are more adult than what you might find in a standard young adult novel. Older teens (or those of us who still believe we are teens) looking for the next step, who enjoy psychic elements and a very intense story…this one’s for you.

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

  • Top 3 books you’ve read in the past year.

Keep in mind that I don’t just read books, I inhale them! When I find an author I like, I buy every book of theirs I can get my hands on. Here is a list of my favorites, though I enjoyed every book in the series.

The Fortress in the Eye of Time by C.J. Cherryh. I fell in love with Tristin by the end of the first chapter. Tristin is a ‘shaping’ created by a wizard, but his beauty and innocence and pure heart makes him my hero.

Trojan Gold by Elizabeth Peters. This is book four out of five, where we finally get to see the arrogant, lovely John Smythe be vulnerable. Also, Vicky is too adorable for words.

Cause of Death by Patricia Cornwell. Still working my way through the ‘Scarpetta’ series, but in this book we get to see Lucy in a softer light, making her more human to me. Fast paced and gritty (like that word!), this series is a must for anyone who likes crime/drama.

  • Top 3 pieces of advice for people just starting in your business.

Persistence: Believe in yourself and never give up. It takes time to find the publisher that fits you, but once you do, you’ll find it worth every minute of heartache and struggle you went through.

Writer’s voice. When you sit down to write, take a deep breath. Don’t think about how anyone else would write the scene. Forget about all the advice you’ve been given. Simply write the words as they come to you. It’s the best way to find your own unique writer’s voice.

Support group: Writing can be lonely without support. Search around until you find a writer’s group you feel at home with. I belong to the Litopia Writer’s Colony, http://www.litopia.com/, which is the friendliest, most supportive group of people you could hope to meet. Their advice and gentle teaching has made me believe in myself as a writer. 

(having a writer sister-in-law with whom you can commiserate and crow also helps)

  • Top 3 authors.

Tolkien. The deep friendship and commitment and love between Frodo and Sam can still bring tears to my eyes.

Ray Bradbury. He will always be the spirit of childhood and hot summer days and adventure to me.

Dean Koontz. His creepy and scary stories with their very human heroes are always a pleasure to read.

Where can we find more info about you and your book?

Alex’s Facebook: http://on.fb.me/jbqDOQ

As a special “all in the family” bonus, Dianne's giving away a pdf copy of Alex! Leave a comment before 11:59pm (pacific time) on 7/13/2011 and share with us who your favorite author is and why. Dianne will randomly choose from those informative comments. Be sure to leave an email address where we can email your ebook.

It has been so very much fun having you visit Strands of Thought! Did we think this day would ever come? Um…I know I wondered. It has been so much fun sharing our journeys with each other and now it is a pleasure sharing it with our readers! Thanks Dianne.


July 6, 2011

Three Times A Charm with VS Grenier

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

This week I’m thrilled to welcome VS Grenier. Virginia does so much for the world of children’s literature; I feel it is such a small, small thing to have her here on Strands of Thought. Here’s more on Virginia:

VS Grenier is an award-winning children's author, founder & owner of Stories for Children Publishing, LLC., award-winning editor-in-chief of Stories for Children Magazine and chief editor for Halo Publishing, Int., and also, the host of blog talk radio’s World of Ink Network shows Stories for Children, SFC Magazine News and The Writing Mama at http://blogtalkradio.com/worldofinknetwork each week.

When she isn't busy talking with authors and illustrators on her radio shows, working for Stories for Children or Halo Publishing and spending time with her children, VS Grenier is busy writing new adventures in the World of Ink. She has a picture book, Babysitting SugarPaw (http://vsgrenier.com/BabysittingSugarPaw.aspx) that is now being released as an eBook.

Virginia, please tell us more about your book.

My picture book, Babysitting SugarPaw is about the crazy adventure of first-time babysitter Bonnie Whiskers and the mischievous SugarPaw. SugarPaw hopes to get rid of his babysitter, Bonnie Whiskers, by getting her into trouble after making changes to his rules chart. As the story unfolds, SugarPaw learns about honesty and friendship. Babysitting SugarPaw, with its child-centered plot on getting to know others, is the perfect book for little ones scared of being left alone with a babysitter for the first time. This book will delight three-to-eight-year-old readers, especially those who like to create mischief. Learn more at http://vsgrenier.com

I’m sure our readers are also curious about SFC. Can you tell us more about that?

Stories for Children Publishing is where you can come take an adventure in the World of Ink with me and the rest of the SFC Team family. Stories for Children (SFC) Publishing, LLC, is more than just a magazine, blog, and newsletter. It’s a family and a community committed to excellence with the products and services provided, and in the relationships with our readers, contributors, freelancers, featured guests, and sponsors. SFC Publishing strives to be fair, honest, committed, and gives warm fuzzies and support to those we work with. With an award-winning Ezine, family oriented blog, and free monthly newsletter for writers, SFC Publishing, LLC, hopes to share the love, enjoyment, excitement of reading, and help those who love to write learn how to write quality stories and articles—so our readers will never want for good material, in any form, and to bring families information to help them in their daily lives from tips to interviews with those who work with and around children. We also have a mission to share resources that introduce our readers to products and services that will help strengthen, support, and challenge children academically, bring the family unit closer together, and also help those who write for children hone their skills. Learn more about SFC Publishing and our many divisions and services at http://storiesforchildrenpublishing.com

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

  • Top 3 pieces of advice for people just starting in your business.
Do your research. This is very important no matter if you’re publishing a book (traditional or self-published), submitting to a magazine or starting your own company.

  • Top 3 snacks to munch on while working.
I like this question. I tend to snack on popcorn, granola bars, and cheese and crackers. Of course, that’s when I remember to eat. I don’t know about other writers, but when my muse starts talking or if I’m on the phone a lot…I forget to eat.

(I do this too! The day is just suddenly over and I never got up to eat!)

  • Top 3 leisure activities.
1.      Going for long walks with my daughters and our dog, Taz. I love looking at our red mountains that surround our neighborhood.
2.      Swimming. There is nothing like taking a nice swim and just relaxing on the water as you float around the pool.
3.      Sitting around a fire pit sharing stories or singing songs. My kids hate when I sing, so they say, but when they get older…they’ll remember mommy telling crazy stories and singing to them. At least I hope so. Oh and the smores are always good to have, too.

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

My websites are:
My Author site http://vsgrenier.com

Stories for Children Publishing - http://storiesforchildrenpublishing.com
You can find the other SFC sites here as well: Stories for Children Magazine, SFC Families Matter Blog and SFC Newsletter for Writers.

BTR’s World of Ink Network – http://blogtalkradio.com/WorldOfInkNetwork

The Writing Mama blog – http://thewritingmama.blogspot.com/

On Facebook

On Twitter

These are really fantastic resources for writers, be sure to check them out and support Virginia by buying her book and the magazine. She does so very much for us!

Thank you so much for joining us on this week’s Three Times A Charm!  It has been a pleasure having you visit!


July 1, 2011


Recent Reads

Oh. My. Gods. by Tera Lynn Childs– humble rating: Golf Clap –Fun read. There were a few times I raised an eyebrow at the improbability of circumstances. But when I chose to view the book as a light, fun read, that ceased to needle me.

Dark Mirror by M.J. Putney – humble rating: Golf Clap – I was surprised at how the author seemed to talk down to the reader, often over explaining or telling instead of showing. I wasn’t crazy about the time travel aspect in this story. Maybe I was just starting to relate to cast of characters and wasn’t up to the task of starting again. Just didn’t work enough for me. Liked the magic though. Very well developed.

Revolution by Jennifer Donnelly - humble rating: Golf Clap++ – This story was woven together so well. I loved the history and the music elements. Really great story.

Solstice by PJ Hoover - humble rating: Motivational Speaker – I am so excited to report that I really, really enjoyed this book! The story behind the book is so intriguing; indie published w/support from author’s lit agent. I had to read it just to see if it was better than the standard indie published book and I am here to say YES, YES and more YES. Professional, well written/edited, well staged for my Kindle (I get the impression this isn’t an easy thing to do). And then the story is really great. I thoroughly enjoyed the dystopian aspects of the Global Heating Crisis. Fascinating. I liked the mix with mythology, found it interesting that Earth was hotter than Hell. A crush-worthy Hades. The story (more so than the characters) stayed with me afterward. I kept feeling compelled to return to it, but alas, I was finished with the book. All good things. Brava, Ms. Hoover.

My own humble rating system: Please feel free to ask for clarification or to dispute my opinion.  I only ask that we ALWAYS remain respectful to the author.

Chirping Cricket – At the end all you hear is the chirp of the cricket.  I doubt I’ll ever use this because I can’t publicly embarrass someone knowingly.  However, I must have a ‘beginning’ rating in order for the rest to make sense. 

Golf Clap - The polite ovation that follows a well-placed shot.

Motivational Speaker –You are left fired up and eager to get to work making the world a better place.  You can’t wait to tell your friends all the insights and inspiration you took away from it. 

Rock Concert – Hooting and hollering, cheering, singing and clapping throughout the performance.  Swaying and lit lighters accompany ballads.  Riots break out if there is no encore.