Children's Book Week edition of Three Times A Charm with Mike Hays

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

This week author, Mike Hays, joins us with some bonus content in celebration of Children’s Book Week. Mike, tell us about you.

THE YOUNGER DAYS is my debut middle grade historical fiction novel from MuseItUp Publishing.  I am a husband, a father of three, a lifelong Kansan and work as a molecular microbiologist.  Besides writing, I have been a high school strength and conditioning coach, a football coach and a baseball coach.  I have published three football coaching articles in a national coaching magazine and have co-authored over a dozen scientific papers.

Tell us more about The Younger Days.

The tension in post Civil War Missouri builds to a boiling point between 11-year old Boy Smyth and his mild mannered, devout father over the father's embarrassing lack of support for Boy’s Border War heroes, the outlaw Cole Younger and the notorious Border War phantom William "The Butcher" Bryant.
The family farm is visited by Cole Younger and his injured brother, Jim, of the infamous James-Younger gang, on the run after a train robbery in Iowa.  Much to his surprise, Boy discovers the Younger brothers are childhood friends of his Ma and Pa. Cole has come to their farm searching for the aid of Boy’s mother to nurse Jim’s gunshot wound.  As the Youngers rest and heal, Boy learns about his family’s past and begins to understands why Pa is the way he is.
After the Youngers leave for their Texas hideout, a new band of visitors arrive at the farm intent on violent revenge.  Everything the family built becomes threatened by the strangers, forcing Pa to make the decision to unleash a long hidden identity in order to save his family.

Cover Blurb
Even a decade after the Civil War, the evil deeds carried out in the Border War for "Bloody" Kansas are not forgotten. Hate and revenge still rule the hearts of some, while others wish only to forget and disappear.
In the beginning, Boy Smyth has a dull Missouri farm life and a burning desire to be an outlaw like his hero, Cole Younger.
In the end, Boy Smyth has five dead bodies and two burning buildings at his farm and the most feared man in the United States crying outside his front gate.
And that desire for the outlaw life? It's purged completely from his system.

Buy info:

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.

The Three P’s: Purpose, Pride and Passion
1. Purpose
            Know who you are and stand there.
2. Pride
            Put your mark on everything you do. Hard work is the magic.
3. Passion
Commit yourself to things you believe in. Make good choices and take ownership of all your choices.

        Top 3 authors.
1. Edgar Allen Poe
            2. Rick Bass
            3. Arthur C. Clarke

Picking only three is like trying to pick a favorite child. So hard to leave out Gaiman, Pratchett., Crichton, Twain, Irving, Hemmingway, etc. etc. etc...

        Top 3 illustrators.

1. Chris Van Allsburg - Stack his body of work in front of you, start flipping through the pages without reading a single word and without even a single work you’ll see the definition of what illustration is.
2. Mary GrandPre’- Her illustrations of the Harry Potter series were magnificent and such a huge (and unsung, in my opinion) part of the book series’s success.
3. Jerry Pinkney and Ezra Jack Keats illustrations for their two JOHN HENRY books.

Because it’s Children’s Book Week, Mike graciously agreed to answer some bonus questions about children’s literacy!

In you humbe opinion, Mike, what are some of the benefits children gain by becoming a comfortable reader?

A comfortable reader is a lifetime reader. The world opens up for a lifetime reader. Confidence blooms in the reader. Confidence, which allows the reader to dream, then use the available tools to learn a way to get it done. Boredom is easily defeated with a book in reach. The reader’s imagination regularly gets cultivated and fertilized and in the process, which is never a bad thing. Readin really is fundamental.

What are two things adults (parents, granparents, coaches, etc) can do to increase a child’s interest in reading?

  1. Read. Read anything and everything. Read to your kids every day, especially at bedtime. Read newspapers, magazines, cereal boxes, books, and have all the above around your house in plentiful amounts at all times. When not reading, talk about the things you’ve read in a relaxed, informal environment (Remember: It’s fun. It’s not a quiz; it’s not a test).
  2. Let is happen. Don’t push or rush your reader. Don’t throw material in their face just because of formal grade level or other fixed parameters. Let it happen. Let the kids find something they like to read, let them find the bait to hook themselves as a lifetime reader. I was a slow reader. I am fairly sure there were many adults who worried about me. But one day, in a special session with a parent volunteer, she gave me a mimeographed copy of TO BUILD A FIRE by Jack London. I sat at a folding table placed between walls of textbook boxes in a storeroom and ran my finger and eyes over the first line “Day had broken cold and grey, exceedingly cold and grey...” Everything in the room disappeared. I found myself in the Yukon looking over the shoulder of the “new-comer” in his struggle for survival. I was transformed, the locked door to books kicked open; snapped from its hinges. Life would never be the same again.

For a chance to make that wonderful experience happen for a child in your life, become a GFC follower of this blog, like my facebook page, KaiStrand, Author and leave a comment on this post. Remember to sign up through Rafflecopter:
a Rafflecopter giveaway

Then visit the other GAP authors participating in the blog hop:

Guardian Angel Publishing Author Blogs:
Mike, how can our readers go to keep up with you and your writing?

Twitter: @coachhays64

Thank you for joining us on this very special Children’s Book Week edition of Three Times A Charm. Best of luck with your writing, Mike.
I am always looking for guests for Three Times A Charm. If you are an author, illustrator or book reviewer, an agent or an editor. If you have something related to children’s publishing that you’d like people to know about, feel free to contact me about a future appearance.

Tomorrow, Children’s Book Week continues on SoT with an interview with a librarian! You don’t want to miss it, so be sure to come back again.


  1. Mike,

    I didn't notice the release of your book on any of the Muse listservs, so I'm glad I read the email today and decided to visit. Not only found a good book to read but also a fun site to explore. Best wishes on the success of THE YOUNGER DAYS.

    1. Always great to have a new visitor, S. Willett! Thanks for stopping in.

  2. Great interview! I love the three P's.

    1. I know, right? Mike must be a really great coach, because this interview both inspires me and pumps me up to DO some writing!

  3. Holy smokes, Mike, I can hardly even pronounce your line of work! Your book sounds awesome, Mike.....I wish you much success! have a wonderful site!

  4. Thank you, Kai, for the opportunity to be here today. Happy Children's Book Week everyone!

    S. Willet - I am glad you were able to find out about The Younger Days here today. Thanks for the kind words.

    Kelly - The 3 P's were the basis of our strength & conditioning program and I've found mesh well with writing. (Note: There also grew a 4th P,"Persistence", which may be the most important one for writing)

    Penny - The easiest translation of my job is "Spends a lot of time working with animal poo, blood, tissues and body fluids..." Enough said. Thanks for the well wishes.

  5. Great post. The book sounds wonderful especially for boys which is always a good thing!

    1. Sharon, there never seem to be enough books that appeal to boys. Too bad, because it is more common for a girl to read a 'boy book' than it is for a boy to read a 'girl book'

  6. Wonderful, Mike!! Love seeing a fellow MGer from YAlitchat highlighted. Congrats. I so agree with you about getting kids to read. Letting it happen, helping them find what they enjoy reading is key!

    1. I used to try to get the kids to read all my faves from when I was a kid. Yeah...that didn't fly.

  7. Great interview. Historical stories are some of my favorite reads. I think I'd enjoy The Younger Days. Will add it to my list. From another YAlitchat er and soon to be MuseItUp author. Best of luck to you, Mike.

    Enjoyed the interview, Kai.

    1. So glad you stopped in then Bev. I know your list isn't nearly long enough. *wink*

  8. So glad to see another historical fiction book out for this age group--I just had a discussion on my blog recently about whether or not MG kids read HF and whether publishers were publishing it. It seems like the answer is YES to both. Thanks for the advice, too.

    1. My daughter and my niece (mg-ers themselves) both love historical fiction and are constantly looking for them and not finding enough of them!

  9. Fascinating story! I truly love the Mike's quote a comfortable reader is a lifetime reader. Great work!

  10. Hi Kai, I really enjoyed the interview with Mike Hays.
    Mike, your books sounds rich and interesting.

    1. Thanks Barbara! Mike is an easy interview. All sorts of interesting things to say - made my work a breeze.

  11. Kai,

    Great interview! I agree with Mike's thinking on reading. Thanks for sharing.

    Nicole Weaver
    Trilingual Children's Author

    1. Great to see you, Nicole. So glad you had a chance to read.

  12. Nice to read your post and celebrate Children's Book Week! Here's to all those wonderful stories and the writers who create them.

    Loved my visit.


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