January 31, 2012

Love & Obsession

I’m visiting with Nancy Stewart on her blog. Please stop in to chat. We’d love to have you. Nancy is quite charming and rather smart so she puts together a good interview.

A reminder that I’m giving away a copy of The Weaver over on Mymcbooks blog. Read the lovely review first and then leave a comment about it to be entered. Simple!

Tomorrow is February 1st and I will be kicking off a month long series of posts. We are going to Share The Love all month long with myriads of guest bloggers stopping in. I’m so excited to be hosting these lovely and generous people. Plus, this is a completely different direction for my blog to take. I have no idea what to expect, but I really hope you all enjoy it and stop in daily to visit with the newest guest.

Random facts: I logged 24 walking workouts for a total of 76.87 miles in January.
In a year and a half I’ve logged more than 1100 miles. I’m on my third pair of shoes and I’ve used countless bandages on my toes.

What’s your obsession?

January 29, 2012

Recents (A Summing Up of a Year of Reading)

There is a book review with a GIVEAWAY at Mymcbooks. Don't miss out on a chance to win The Weaver.

Another great year of reading! Total number of books read in 2011 = 77. Slighty more than last year. I can’t thank my family enough for all the time they endure of me reading.  Still looking for that gift of a speed-reading course. 

2011 I fell in crush with the writing of Cassandra Clare with her Mortal Instruments series. I was wowed by self published books by authors, Susan Kaye Quinn (Open Minds), S.R. Johannes (Untraceable) and P.J. Hoover (Solstice). Sobbed while reading If I Stay by Gayle Forman. Grinned like a loon while reading Anna and the French Kiss by Stephanie Perkins. But if some terrificly awesome God of Reading were to force me to choose a favorite from the 77, I'd have to say The Scorpio Races by Maggie Stiefvater would be the one.  So many of the books I read were enjoyable, or entertaining, or emotional or thought provoking.  They transported me to their world. They forced to peer at common situations from a new knot whole in the fence or to experience uncommon adventures that I wouldn’t ordinarily be part of. 

Reading is the BOMB!  Thank you authors, for your hard work, dedication and perseverance so that I may spend so much time…um…researching my craft.

January 25, 2012

Three Times A Charm with Darlene Foster

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

This week author, Darlene Foser, joins us. Darlene, tell us about you.

I am a writer of children’s stories, an employment counselor, an ESL teacher, a wife, mother and grandmother. I love travel, reading, shoes, cooking, sewing, music, chocolate, walking on the beach and making new friends.  My grandson calls me “super-mega-woman-supreme”.  I was brought up on a ranch near Medicine Hat, Alberta, where I dreamt of traveling the world and meeting interesting people.  I live on the beautiful west coast of BC with my husband Paul and our two black cats, Pumpkin and Monkey.  I have had two children’s travel/adventure books published and am currently working on the third in the series.

Tell us more about your series!

Amanda in Arabia – The Perfume Flask is my first published novel.
Amanda Ross is an average twelve year old Canadian girl. So what is she doing thousands of kilometres from home in the United Arab Emirates? It's her own fault really, she wished for adventure and travel when she blew out those candles on her last birthday cake. Little did she know that a whole different world awaited her on the other side of the globe, one full of intrigue, mystery and folklore. A world with a beautiful princess, a dangerous desert and wonderful friends. Join Amanda on her first adventure as she discovers the secrets behind The Perfume Flask.

Amanda in Spain – The Girl in The Painting is the second book in the series.
Amanda Jane Ross is certainly becoming a world traveler; she's now in sunny Spain on vacation with her friend Leah.  While there, she encounters a mysterious young girl who looks eerily like the girl in a famous painting she saw in a Madrid museum. Even weirder, the girl keeps showing up wherever Amanda finds herself - Madrid, the remote mountains of rural Spain, the beaches on the Mediterranean Sea, a fiesta and the streets of Barcelona. Amanda wants to help this sweet young girl and her beloved pony escape the clutches of a mean horse-dealer. Come with Amanda on her next adventure as she attempts to unravel the mystery behind the Girl in the Painting while she treks across Spain - one step ahead of danger!

They sound charming! Middle graders love series, too.

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 kids these days.

Never give up on your dreams, even if others say you can’t do it, even if things get in the way. Tell yourself you can do it. If you believe it, you can do it.

Be nice to everyone. You never know when your paths may cross again. By being pleasant to everyone it will come back tenfold.

Learn something from every one you meet and every experience you have, good or bad.

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

A teacher. I always loved to teach, even when I was a preschooler.
A missionary. I wanted to travel the world and help people less fortunate
A social worker. I wanted to help people to have a better life.

I never did any of those jobs but now I am an employment counselor and facilitate workshops, helping unemployed people find work.  So I am doing what I wanted to do, just with a different title.  I also travel a lot with my husband.  It wasn’t until I became an adult that I dreamt of being a writer.  If you believe it, you will do it!  And it is never too late to follow your dreams.

  • Top 3 authors.

Jane Austen. I never tire of her stories of country life and amazing characters. 
Lucy Maude Montgomery. She created the most unforgettable character of all time, Anne Shirley
Louisa May Alcott. Her depiction of family life and the close bond of sisters is skillfully portrayed in Little Woman

All three authors created strong female characters and wrote about their relationships with those around them with humour and strong emotion.  I read their books over and over.

You’ve made me want to revisit all three of those authors!

Darlene, how can our readers go to keep up with you and your writing?

Thank you for joining us on Three Times A Charm, this week. I’ve thoroughly enjoyed hosting you on SoT and hope you’ll come visit again when your third book comes out. Best of luck with your writing, Darlene.


If you’d like to be featured in Three Times A Charm, please contact me. I’m always looking for authors, illustrators, bloggers, editors, agents involved in children’s publishing to be my guest. Email kaistrand (at) yahoo (dot) com.  Three Times A Charm will be on hiatus in February, but return again with all new guests in March.

January 20, 2012

George Lucas' Movie, Red Tails & Chasing the Spirit of Service

As George Lucas fans enjoy the long awaited premiere of "Red Tails", movie goers have the opportunity to share the legacy of the Tuskegee Airmen with their kids and grandkids through children's picture book, "Chasing the Spirit of Service." Written by author Kristen Zajac and illustrated by Julie Tucker, this book was the recipient of the 2011 Global eBook Award in Multicultural Fiction and was featured in the 2012 Tampa Bay Black History Festival at the Glazer Children's Museum. Released by Guardian Angel Publishing, the book is an educational resource for parents, teachers, and history enthusiasts who wish to share the inspirational story of America's first African American pilots in World War II with young readers.
Synopsis of the movie Red Tails: 1944. As the war in Europe continues to take its toll on Allied forces, the Pentagon brass has no recourse but to consider unorthodox options -- including the untried and untested African-American pilots of the experimental Tuskegee training program. Just as the young Tuskegee men are on the brink of being shut down and shipped back home, they are given the ultimate chance to show their courage. Against all the odds, with something to prove and everything to lose, these intrepid young airmen take to the skies to fight for their country -- and the fate of the free world. This movie is rated PG-13
As the George Lucas film "Red Tails" hits movie theaters nationwide, parents can share the legacy of the Tuskegee Airmen with young readers through children's picture book, “Chasing the Spirit of Service”. The book features young Emma who comes from three generations of Air Force pilots and misses her father when he must travel. Her best friend Adam tries to cheer her up. Emma's great grandfather, a Tuskegee Airman, shares his life story with Emma and Adam and helps them to appreciate the spirit of service. Emma and Adam's journey to understand, honor, and capture the spirit of service for themselves will touch the hearts of both young and old. Anyone who has ever served in the military or has known someone who served will appreciate the book's universal themes of duty to country, separation from family, and the importance of saying “thank you.”
“Chasing the Spirit of Service” was released nationally on November 30, 2010 by Guardian Angel Publishing, Inc., based out of Saint Louis, Missouri. Since then, the author and illustrator have been doing book tours in schools to teach about the Tuskegee Airmen. The book, "Chasing the Spirit of Service", can be purchased online at http://www.amazon.com/, http://www.barnesandnoble.com, and http://www.guardianangelpublishing.com/spirit-service.htm.
What a great opportunity to share the legacy with your young ones.
About the Author:
 Kristen Zajac is the author of "Ebeneezer's Cousin" and "Chasing the Spirit of Service", Winner of the 2011 Global eBook Award in Multicultural Fiction. She has three additional books due for release in 2012. Kristen was inspired to write her books in tribute to the courageous military families she met and worked with at United States Central Command. Before becoming an author, Kristen was an Associate with Booz Allen Hamilton in Tampa, Florida where she worked on-site at MacDill Air Force Base, writing threat assessments for deployed service members. Prior to joining Booz Allen, Kristen worked at FBI Headquarters in Washington D.C. as an analyst in the Counterterrorism Division. Kristen earned a M.A. in Political Science from the University of Florida and a B.A. in Political Science from Stetson University. She thanks all her readers for their support and encourages them to believe in their dreams and chase their own 'spirit of service' wherever it may lead them.
About the Illustrator:
Julie Tucker is a graduate of The Savannah College of Art and Design and has exhibited her work in a variety of venues throughout the U.S. Her art and mural commissions can be seen in corporate and private collections. Julie's work has appeared in a television documentary and in a series of PBS specials on the art and artists of Tennessee. Daughter of a talented artist, Julie Tucker was literally born into a household belonging to the arts. "Having a mother for an artist really made my whole world colorful and joyous growing up. Art has always been a part of my life." Julie has taught in the public school system as well as Southern USA art museums including; DeLand Museum of Art and Harris House of the Atlantic Center for the Visual Arts in Florida and The Frist Center for the Visual Arts, Sarratt Student Center at Vanderbilt University, The Renaissance Center, and Harpeth Art Center in Tennessee. Julie hopes to encourage children to follow their dreams wherever they may lead and help instill in them the confidence to be whatever they want to be.

January 18, 2012

Three Times A Charm with Nancy Stewart

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

This week we are joined by my fellow GAP author, Nancy Stewart. Nancy, tell us about yourself.

I am the author of the four Bella and Britt Series books for children:  One Pelican at a Time (eighteen weeks on Amazon Bestselling List), Sea Turtle Summer, (Amazon Bestseller for Children and on Amazon Hot New Releases), Bella Saves the Beach and Mystery at Manatee Key. All are/will be published by Guardian Angel Publishing.

I was featured in the PBS Tampa (WEDU) series, Gulfwatch.  It concerned the writing of One Pelican at a Time:  A Story of the Gulf Oil Spill. Pelican won a Literary Classics Seal of Approval was nominated for a Global eBook Award.

My travels take me extensively throughout the world, most particularly Africa. I am the US chair of a charity in Lamu, Kenya, that places girls in intermediate schools to allow them to further their education. 

My husband and I live in Tampa and St. Louis.

Tell us more about your most recent release.

Sea Turtle Summer, the second book in the Bella and Britt Series was published in November, 2011.  It has been on Amazon’s Hot New Releases and Amazon’s Bestselling Books for Children’s lists. In this book, the girls find a Loggerhead sea turtle and her nest on the beach.  After seeing the female safely back into the water, the girls are faced with an unprotected nest.  What to do?  This book is about empowering kids to make good decisions while navigating through an adult world, facing adult rules and staying true to themselves.

Sounds great! I loved One Pelican at a Time. Bella and Brit are such great characters.

Now for the three’s. Share with us your top 3’s so we can get to know you better.

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

For any author these days, a computer (preferably reliable) has to be number 1. I feel my computer is joined at my hip these days, as it is used about eight hours a day.  When I stop to think about it, frightening is the word I’d use to describe my dependence on it!

If I must choose, then number two would be my blog.  Although I did not want to begin one, I couldn’t function as an author today without it.  People the world over get to know you and your work.  It also functions as a vehicle for adult writing—a skill a children’s author can begin to lose.

My third tool has to be (and I hate to admit this) the social network.  For marketing, it is invaluable, and marketing’s the name of the game these days.  So, yes, I tweet and facebook religiously. It’s simply essential in modern life as fire was for pre-historic people.

  • Top 3 skills to hone for people just starting in your business.

Number one for me is to read and research the genre of your interest.  Then read some more. There is a formula of sorts with each genre, and one must follow it to a point—never forgetting to add your own stamp of creativity and voice!  Learn from successful authors.

Number two is to write every day.  Even though we may have a natural proclivity toward this art form, practicing it is essential.  Thinking about it, getting the words on “paper,” rewriting and revising are all pivotal to the process.  And it’s amazing what one learns about the art of writing and about oneself as well.

Number three is:  Don’t write in a vacuum! Get out there and join a writer’s group. They are everywhere.  It will change one’s professional life and only for the better.  A good critique group provides camaraderie, and it is great enriching fodder for your books. 

  • Top 3 leisure activities.

My top leisure activity is going to lunch with friends.  (I know I should say exercise, but you want honesty here, right?)  Writing by definition is a solitary profession, and I am a social person.  So…taking a break mid-day with a friend or two is a perfect combination for me.

My second is—exercise.  I’m so lucky to have a full gym and two pools in our Tampa condo, and I take advantage of them!  Again, when one sits at a computer for close to eight hours a day as I do, exercise is crucial.

The third activity is travel.  I’ve been so fortunate to have traveled much of this amazing world.  I particularly enjoy sub-continent Africa and help with a charity in Kenya whenever I can.

Nancy, where can our readers learn more about you and your work?

Facebook:  Nancy Rosenthal Stewart

Buy her books here:
Thank you for joining us this week on Three Times A Charm! It has been a pleasure visiting with you and learning more about Sea Turtle Summer. Best of luck to your books. May they be held by many small hands!


January 13, 2012

Call for Guest Bloggers - Share the Love

I'm looking for 29 people to guest post on my blog in February. The month long theme is Share The Love, but I’ve assigned a related subject to each week. Guests choose a subject they like and write one post for it. Writers, bloggers, agents, editors, public relations peeps, anyone related to (any genre of) writing. Respond fast for best choice of subject. EMAIL me please! kaistrand at yahoo dot com.

January 11, 2012

Three Times A Charm with Ivy Smith

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

This week we are joined by author, Ivy Smith. I’m rarely lucky enough to meet my guests in person, but Ivy and I and our husbands spent a day together at a book signing in November (The Oregon Book Fair). I’m so thrilled to have her visit SoT because I know how charming she is and how wonderful her books are. Ivy, tell us what you are all about.

My name is Ivy Smith. I've always loved to read, and you can usually find me reading several books at a time. I have two children and four grandchildren. I've worked at many diverse jobs, from librarian to animal handler.

When I worked as an animal handler I observed and took care of animals in their enclosures. I felt a close bond to these animals and I wondered how they felt about their lives. When I wrote my stories I wrote what I thought the animals might be experiencing.

When my children were young I told them stories that I made up on the spot. Over time, I came to do the same with nieces and nephews in the family. I hand made books of photos with short sentences of our times spent together during summers and other holidays. We often look at them remembering the fun and silly times we spent together. I always wanted my writing to include a sense of respect for our place in nature. As bird watching is one of my passions, it is always a part of my day, including; noticing natural things happening around me. It is important to me that people understand that we are part of nature and what we do has an impact on the world around us.

Ivy, you have three great books out right now, Sully’s New Home, Roxie and the Deer and my personal favorite, Stickers VIP (Stickers is SO adorable!!!). Tell us more about your books.

My stories are from the animal’s perspective. Sully is a Sulfur-Crested cockatoo who has moved to a new home, and he is very lonely. He has to go through quite a bit until he feels comfortable in his new environment.

Stickers VIP, is about a porcupine. He is the star of the animal show and enjoys telling children and adults about himself.

Roxie is a gray fox and she is very mischievous and likes to chase things… big things… like deer! Children and adults can relate to the difficulties that these animals face. It is also important to recognize that these animals live in an animal park. They live there because they can’t survive on their own in the wild. They were taken from their wild home and need to be cared for the rest of their lives. I hope my work continues to help parents and their children think about our place in nature and our responsibility to all living things.

All the books are quite enjoyable. You really have a knack for giving the animals lively, entertaining personalities.

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

  • Three books I read in the last year:
Outlander and Dragonfly in Amber by Diana Gabaldon. These books contain three of my favorite things, history, fiction and fantasy. (and Jamie. I heart Jamie!)
Having known so many Native Americans with great talents, the novel by Mabel McKay: Weaving the Dream, by Greg Sarris, appealed to me. A story about a world-renowned Pomo basket weaver and medicine woman.
Wizard of the Upper Amazon: A story of Manuel Cordova-Rios, by F. Bruce Lamb, got my attention. It’s the story of life among a tribe of South American Indians at the beginning of the century. The book reveals experiences of cultural differences that are fascinating.

  • Three pieces of advice for kids these days
Learn, Learn, Learn…learning is so vital these days, and I mean pay attention, you just might discover what your passion is. And it may be many things…Remember, learning is never wasted. It’s true, learning is the key to everything. Reading helps you not only learn but to go to places you may never have the chance to visit personally. Expect to learn about yourself as well. I still enjoy learning about new things.

  • Three things I wanted to be when I grew up
WOW, I want to try everything, and learn about it all. I loved learning about different cultures, and I thought I wanted to be an archaeologist. But over time I learned that what I really wanted to do was learn about the stories contained within their culture. This is something an “ethnologist” does. For a time, I transcribed taped interviews of elders from a California tribe who told stories of their lives.
I also love to paint, and thought I might be a professional painter when I grew up. I’ve painted animals on the empty shells of eggs. I also paint on canvas and now I’m painting on the walls of my home. I’ve exhibited my work and am working on my own illustrations for a new story that I am writing.
I like telling stories, I told stories to my children when they were little and now I tell stories to my grandchildren. I started writing just for fun, and now it is turning into another profession for me. Plus, I get to read the stories that I’ve written to children at schools, libraries and book stores. I’m really having a good time doing that. So maybe I’ll be an author for awhile.
Where can our readers learn more about you and your work?

If you’d like to contact me my email address is

My books can be purchased through the publisher:

Facebook for my three books at

Thank you, Ivy, for joining us on Three Times A Charm! It has been a pleasure visiting with you again. Best of luck to your lovely books and for your future writing endeavors!

(If you are interested in being featured on Three Times A Charm, please send me an email at kaistrand(at)yahoo(dot)com. The only pre-requisites are that you are somehow involved in children’s publishing and have something you’d like to promote)

January 5, 2012

Signed Bookplate for You

If you would like a signed bookplate for your copy of The Weaver, all you have to do is share the link to this post from my Facebook page (Kai Strand, Author) on your own page or profile. Then send me an email at kaistrand at yahoo dot com and tell me who to personalize the signature to and where to mail it.

It’s that simple. I’ll mail out your bookplate and throw in a bookmark.

Thanks for your support. Keep loving books!


January 4, 2012

Three Times A Charm with Donna McDine

Welcome to the New Year! 2012 is full of potential and promise. Will we ferret out all the opportunity? Will we recognize a break when it’s staring us in the face? Keep your eyes and ears open. And be sure to read my weekly feature Three Times A Charm in case my guest is your opportunity or your next break.

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

I’m excited to welcome my fellow Guardian Angel Publishing author, Donna McDine this week. She is here to tell us about a new service she’s offering. I suggest you listen. She knows what she’s talking about. Donna, tell us about yourself.

I am an award-winning children's author, Honorable Mention in the 77th and two Honorable Mentions in the 78th Annual Writer’s Digest Writing Competitions, Preditors & Editors Readers Poll 2010 Top Ten Children’s Books, Global eBook Awards Finalist Children’s Picture Book Fiction, and Literary Classics Silver Award & Seal of Approval Recipient Picture Book Early Reader ~ The Golden Pathway.
My stories, articles, and book reviews have been published in over 100 print and online publications. My interest in American History resulted in writing and publishing The Golden Pathway. I have three more books under contract with Guardian Angel Publishing, Hockey Agony, Powder Monkey, and A Sandy Grave. I’m also the Editor-in-Chief for Guardian Angel Kids, Publicist for the Working Writer’s Club, and owner of Author PR Services from my home in the historical hamlet Tappan, NY. And member of the SCBWI.

Wow, impressive credentials. I love The Golden Pathway! A really important story to keep alive and you’ve written it so well.

Donna, tell us about the new service you are offering.

Author PR Services by Donna McDine – www.authorprservices.com
Overwhelmed? Don't have time to promote your books the proper way? Let the panic settle and don't fret any longer. Let Donna take the pressure off.

What better way to free up your valuable writing time for your next intriguing manuscript, but by outsourcing your book promotion needs.

Donna's experience in researching and securing book reviewers, writing effective media releases, media kit creation (both online and hard copy), creation of opt-in subscriber boxes, and implementing your social networking campaign will certainly ease your mind.
Now for the Three’s! Share your top 3’s to help us know you better.

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

The Frugal Book Promoter, How to Do What Your Publisher Won’t by Carolyn Howard-Johnson – What can I say who isn’t frugal these days. Making the most out of your book promotion efforts without spending a fortune is key to our sanity.

Yes! You Can Learn How to Write Children’s Books, Get Them Published, and Build a Successful Writing Career by Nancy I. Sanders – This is my bible of sorts. Nancy shares with what worked for her to create her ultra successful writing career. It’s broken down to simple tasks that are doable for any reader.

Get Known before the Book Deal by Christina Katz – Promotion and marketing falls squarely on the shoulders of the majority of authors and gaining momentum in promoting yourself is instrumental in standing out from the crowd.

All three of these books are earmarked and highlighted to the hilt and I refer to them often to stay on course for my writing career.

  • Top 3 pieces of advice for kids these days.

Career opportunities (especially for girls) are much broader than they were 25 years ago. Do not limit yourself. Jump on the opportunity to take honors and advanced placement classes at your high school. This provides a chance to see what major you would like to choose for college.

Do not let stereotypes prevent you from exploring a career you are attracted too. Such as only women are nurses or hairstylists. After a bit of research you’d be surprised that men are just as effective in these careers as women. Go for your dream career, attend the college that best fits you and your needs, and don’t become a wallflower.

Get involved at your school, whether it middle school, high school or college. Try out for a sport or join a club. Both afford the chance to learn how to work as a team, which is critical when you enter the workforce. It also provides the opportunity to meet new people and helps develop long lasting friendships.

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

Journalist, hairstylist, and physical therapist.

Where can our readers find more about you, your books and your writing services?

Donna’s Website: http://www.donnamcdine.com 
Write What Inspires You Blog: http://www.donna-mcdine.blogspot.com 
The Golden Pathway Blog: http://www.thegoldenpathway.blogspot.com
Author PR Services: http://www.authorprservices.com

Donna, thank you for joining us this week on Three Times A Charm. It is always a pleasure to be your host and to soak up your knowledge. Dear readers, she really knows her way around public relations!