June 27, 2012

Three Times A Charm with Karen Wiesner

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

This week author, Karen Wiesner, joins us. Karen, tell us about you.

I’ve had 89 books published in the past 14 years, which have been nominated for and/or won 123 awards, and 17 more titles under contract. My books cover genres such as women’s fiction, romance, mystery/police procedural/cozy, suspense, paranormal, futuristic, gothic, inspirational, thriller, horror, chick-lit, and action/adventure. I also writes children’s books, poetry, and writing reference titles like my bestsellers, First Draft in 30 Days and From First Draft to Finished Novel {A Writer’s Guide to Cohesive Story Building}, available from Writer’s Digest Books. Look for Writing the Series, my next offering from Writer’s Digest Books, in May 2013. My previous writing reference titles focused on non-subsidy, royalty-paying electronic publishing, author promotion, and setting up a promotional group like my own, the award-winning Jewels of the Quill, which I founded in 2003. Jewels of the Quill produced two award-winning group anthologies per year published by Whiskey Creek Press from 2005-2011. All were edited by myself and others. Along with my writing, I enjoy designing websites, graphics, and cover art (which you can view here:

Wow, you are busy! I’m impressed you can keep it all straight.

Tell us more about your recent release, Cody Knows.

Cody Knows follows the imagination and adventures of a single day in the life of an Indiana Jones-wanna-be toddler.

My son is in high school now and has been an avid lover of books from birth. I wrote Cody Knows for him when he was just a baby, wanting to highlight what a unique, special child he is. He looks at the world in an unusual way that I hope will captivate others as much as it has my husband and I. Candy’s illustrations really bring out the single-day-of-adventure, harried pace we went through living with our son when he was little. This is a very special book to me. It was originally published in 2003 in electronic formats only, and it’s finally coming to print now with Guardian Angel. I couldn’t be happier.

Look for these reissued, EPIC Award nominated books from Guardian Angel Publishing soon:
Taking Responsibility Builds Trust (Making Good Choices Series, Book 1)
by Karen Sue Wiesner; illustrated by Robert Lee Beers
Children's Nonfiction Interactive
An interactive set of stories and illustrations designed to help parents and kids understand each other and to work together toward making good decisions, designed specifically for preschoolers up to 6 years old.
Taking Care Of Your Things (Making Good Choices Series, Book 2)
by Karen Sue Wiesner; illustrated by Robert Lee Beers
Children's Nonfiction Interactive
An interactive set of stories and illustrations designed to help parents and kids understand each other and to work together toward making good decisions, designed specifically for preschoolers up to 6 years old.

Both of these will be out in print for the first time with Guardian Angel Publishing, in a choose your own adventure format.

Yes, can I just say again, “Wow, you’re busy!”

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

  • Top 3 professions you wanted to be when you grew up.
1)      Writer (how’s that for knowing what I wanted to do from the earliest age?)
2)      Singer (still love singing)
3)      Dancer (can’t imagine doing this anymore, lol)

  • Top 3 authors.
Just three? How cruel! Three in every genre I read would be fairer, lol. Okay, if I must, here are three authors I read everything they write (not necessarily in order of favorite—I’d have a hard time choosing):
1) Agatha Christie
2) J.R.R Tolkien
3) J.K. Rowling

  • Top 3 personal and/or professional goals.
1)      The first and most easily completed one is to crack 100 books published. I’m at 89 now, and I’ll finally make this goal in December 2013…at which time my new goal will be to have 150 books published. It never ends!
2)      To write a book in every genre. So far, the only category I can think of that I haven’t written anything in are a historical of some type (including westerns, regencies, medieval, etc.—I can imagine writing a western or medieval someday but don’t at this time have any solid ideas beyond that I love castles, knights, and dragons), science fiction/fantasy (I have had a futuristic published and have sketchy ideas for science fiction and fantasy novels), and young adult (do have several plots in mind). My one downfall in this goal is that I cannot stand reading or watching any war type of fiction—no interest whatsoever in doing something like that, though I’ve nudged the edge more than once in my Incognito Series and will again in the spin-off quartet, Shadow Missions. But that’s more of action/adventure/suspense/spy. I can’t see myself ever writing anything in the vein of Black Hawk Down or Enemy at the Gates. I just have no interest in this particular genre. Other than that, I’m close!
3)      When my son was little, we talked about writing a fantasy novel together. Some ideas were put down on paper, but we’ve never done anything with them. My son is a teenager now, and he’s very interested in designing games for a living when he’s out of college (basically any platform: computer, Xbox, etc.). Our whole family (yes, me included) is made up of heavy gamers, and, though we all have our favorite platforms, we have in common that we all love the fantasy genre best for our games. I think the fantasy story idea my son and I started would make a wonderful game. Maybe someday we’ll end up doing something with this.

I agree with you on the war movies/books. I try to avoid them. But perhaps you can take a different view and write about the support effort or the trials of people living in a war zone so you aren’t directly recreating war scenes. Beautifully lofty goals, Karen, and it seems like you will achieve them.

Where can our readers go to keep up with you and your writing?

For more information about me and my work, visit my websites at http://www.karenwiesner.com, http://www.firstdraftin30days.com, http://www.falconsbend.com and http://www.JewelsoftheQuill.com. If you’d like to receive my free e-mail newsletter, Karen’s Quill, and become eligible to win my monthly book giveaways, send a blank e-mail to

Thank you for joining us on Three Times A Charm, this week. You are a lovely interview subject and I hope you visit again. Best of luck pushing past 100 to 150!


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 a book, a blog or a business related to children’s publishing that you’d like people to know about, feel free to contact me about a future appearance.

June 22, 2012

Spotlight on Celtic Run by Sean Vogel

Celtic Run by Sean Vogel

Jake, a 14-year-old gadget whiz, didn’t plan on a summer full of treasure, thieves, and danger. He just got lucky.

While in Ireland on a class trip, Jake stumbles upon the first clue to a treasure missing from the Spanish Armada. Jake sees the riches as his chance to buy back the family sailboat and restore a piece of the life he enjoyed before his father was critically injured in an accident. Desperate to find the treasure, Jake teams up with Zach, his nemesis and class bully, and two girls in a clue-hunting chase across the Dingle Peninsula.
Dodging would-be thieves, exchanging wisecracks with Zach, and concocting ingenious devices to get them out of scrapes, Jake leads the team as they connect piece after piece to the 400-year-old mystery.

***Book Excerpt***

Celtic Run
© Sean Vogel
Chapter 1

Jake clenched his fists. Zach was sauntering down the airplane aisle as if he were the best thing since the iPod. Everyone has an archenemy, Jake thought. Luke Skywalker has Darth Vader. Harry Potter has Voldemort. Me? I have Zach.

Zach plopped into the seat in front of Jake and poked his head around to talk.

“Hey, twerp, having a good flight?”

Just my luck. Five and a half hours to Ireland behind the goon of the eighth grade. “I’d be having a better flight if you’d test the emergency exit.”

Zach’s eyes narrowed. “Okay, Spanky, you’ll pay for that with your leg room.” He stuffed his duffle under his own seat until it infringed on Jake’s space. “Oh, wait, you’re only three feet tall, so my bag won’t bother you.” Zach chuckled and turned back around to watch a movie on his LCD television screen.

Instinctively, Jake stretched his legs to see if he could reach the duffle with his feet. Shorter than the average student, he felt like a dwarf compared to Zach’s football-player physique. He glanced at Zach’s seatmate, Julie. Why doesn’t she ever see this?

Jake’s heart pinched as Julie adjusted her position to rest her head on Zach’s shoulder. Her blonde hair lay draped between the seats, its strong berry scent sending a slight tingle through Jake’s body.

Jake and Julie had grown up together. They’d been friends from hide-and-seek to Guitar Hero, which made it the ultimate blow when she started going out with Zach. Why can’t she see him for the jerk he is? Jake kicked Zach’s bag out of anger. Good thing no one’s sitting next to me. Then, grinning, he bent forward and slowly opened the zipper.

The first thing he found was a stack of papers. A cover sheet said “The Visitors, by Zachary Maguire.” Laughing inwardly at his good fortune, Jake tucked the manuscript into the seat pocket in front of him for future retrieval. Never pass up good blackmail material.

Next, he found Zach’s security-compliant bag of liquids. Jackpot! All that bragging about being the only eighth grader to shave is going to haunt him. He pulled out the travel-sized can of shaving cream and some dental floss and then pried the tab off his empty soda can.

He knew Julie wouldn’t approve of what he was about to do. Like a referee who flags the guy returning a punch, she had a knack for seeing only Jake’s retaliations and not Zach’s instigating offenses.

After jamming the metal tab into the tight gap behind the button, he gingerly pulled forward on the makeshift lever. Mint-scented goo dribbled out. Perfect. Next, he strategically placed a couple of airline blankets inside the duffle to hold the shaving cream can up toward the opening of the bag. He zipped it closed as far as he could, leaving just a little access for his fingers. Using a fisherman’s knot, he tied the floss to the metal tab, pulled the slack out, and tied the other end to the zipper.

He bit his lower lip as he pulled the knot tight. Probably the last time I’ll tie that knot since we no longer have a boat. The feeling of loss that he experienced on the day his dad sold their sailboat to pay the medical bills had been monumental. He slid the duffle back under the seat and glanced up at the movie. Seen it. With his dad laid up, watching movies was about all they could do together now.
*          *          *
Hours later, the pilot announced their descent into Ireland. Jake finished scanning the “Trace Your Heritage” homework instructions and folded them into his backpack. He hadn’t wanted to leave New York for the entire summer, but his dad had urged him to go on this school trip, saying it would be good for him to see where their family came from.

Jake tossed his backpack onto the empty seat next to him and peered between the seats as Zach wrapped up the cords of his expensive headphones. Showtime. Pretending to sleep, Jake watched through slits in his eyes as Zach pulled out his bag.

Zach tugged at the zipper. It didn’t budge. He grunted, tightened his grip, and yanked again. A greenish geyser of minty foam erupted from the bag, lathering Zach from head to waist.

“Argh!” Zach’s arms flailed as he struggled to wipe the slime from his face. He stopped and blinked several times. Then he stood up, turned, and fixated on Jake.

Uh-oh. At ten thousand feet, options for escape were slim.

An attendant spoke into the intercom. “Sir, please sit down. We’re making our descent.”
Temporarily thwarted, Zach pointed at Jake before making a fist and smacking it into his other palm.
“Zach!” Julie scolded.

“But look at what he did!” Zach removed the cream from his face with the last dry part of his shirt.

“Well, what did you think he’d do if you put your bag there? You know he can’t resist a practical joke!”
Jake’s heart pounded. She noticed. There is hope.

“And Jake, you’ve got to stop with the pranks.” Jake looked down, not wanting to gaze into her disapproving blue eyes. She’d once confided to Jake that Zach had some insecurities and issues with his dad, but Jake didn’t think that gave him the right to be a bully.

Once the plane landed in Shannon, the group of ten students made their way through customs and baggage claim. They purchased some cookies and drinks at the café and then walked outside into the mid-morning sun to eagerly await their sponsors. Although most of the students would be going to different villages, such as Ballyferriter and Castlegregory, Jake knew that Zach, Julie, and he would be staying in the town of Dingle.
He remembered the glint in Julie’s eyes when she talked about her dad pulling strings to keep them all close to each other. She wants me to be friends with her boyfriend? No way.

Jake’s name was called. He turned to see a man in faded pants and a colorful sweater
bounding toward him. The powerful energy in his trim frame was clearly evident.

Dia daoibh, Jake. Mo ainm Gerald O’Connell,” he said, warmly extending his hand.

Zach stopped dabbing the shaving cream from his clothes. “Whoa, I thought they spoke English here.”

“We do.” A girl with long red curls and a china-white complexion stepped out from behind the man. “Hello. My name is Maggie O’Connell, and this is my ‘da,’” she said with a charming brogue.

Jake recognized her from the photo she’d sent when they exchanged introductory e-mails. He remembered she was fifteen, only a year older than he was.

Mr. O’Connell inclined his head. “Welcome to Ireland.”

Not wanting to pass up the opportunity to upstage Zach, Jake said to Maggie, “That was Irish that your dad—uh, da—was speaking, right?”

Maggie beamed. “That’s impressive. Most Americans would have called it Gaelic.”

“My dad drilled me on Irish knowledge. He didn’t want me to bring shame on the McGreevy name.”

Maggie smiled in appreciation. “Speaking of names, remember you wrote to ask if there were any McGreevys listed in our area? Well, I was able to find a few near Killorglin—just about an hour away.”

Go raibh mile maith agat.” Jake hoped he’d pronounced the Irish translation for “thank you” correctly.


“’Fraid that’s all I’ve learned so far,” Jake grinned.

When Julie’s and Zach’s names were called, two well-dressed couples approached them. Jake noticed that as each person shook Zach’s hand, his or her nose twitched, probably trying to figure out where the minty smell was coming from. Jake snickered and Zach mouthed a threat at him.

In the parking lot, the O’Connells led Jake to a beat-up hatchback. Mr. O’Connell pounded on the latch to open it and began loading Jake’s bags. As Zach’s and Julie’s sponsors packed their luggage into their respective luxury cars, Zach called to Jake, “Hey, twerp. Want me to upgrade you to a donkey cart?”
Maggie squinted at Zach, as if to better understand what he’d just said.

Jake turned to her. “What’s Irish for caveman?

She giggled, mischief sparkling in her eyes. “Try fear pluaise.”

“Catch you later, fear pluaise!

All the sponsors laughed. And when Zach’s face deepened to a dark shade of red, Jake could barely conceal his pleasure. I am definitely going to like it here.

The car’s exterior may have been dilapidated, but its engine fired right up. Jake struggled to keep his stomach steady as Mr. O’Connell sped along the highway for the two-and-a-half-hour trip south. Their lively conversation made the time fly. It didn’t take long for Jake to get used to their accents, but much to his embarrassment, a few times he found himself unconsciously mimicking their inflections.

“When we get home, you can call your mum and da and tell them you’re here,” Maggie said.

Jake stared out the passenger window. “Just my dad. My mom died when I was young.”

Maggie twisted in her seat to reach out and touch his arm, hesitated, and then put her hand back by her side. “Tá brón orainn. I mean, I’m so sorry.”

“So this is your first time in Ireland, right, Jake?” Mr. O’Connell said, gently changing the subject.

“Yes. My dad and I have sailed to a few places on our schooner, but we’ve never made it this far.”

“Where have you been?” Maggie asked.

“Caribbean mostly. The sea down there is amazing.”

“I’ll bet. Well, my da and the other sponsors thought you might enjoy seeing a bit of scenery before settling in. We’re now on Slea Head Drive. Very soon you’ll be able to get your first glimpse of Blasket Sound, okay?”

“Of course.” Jake inched forward in his seat for a better view.

As they rounded the next corner, Maggie stretched her arm out the window and said, “Welcome to Dingle.”

Jake’s jaw dropped as the infinite ocean unfolded before him. Soaring cliffs hugged the coastline to stand guard over white-capped waves racing toward the shore like wild horses.

“It’s awesome,” Jake said, hoping he didn’t sound too corny.

“The National Geographic Traveller guidebook proclaimed it ‘the most beautiful place on earth,’” Maggie added with pride.

“I can see why.”

Thankfully, Mr. O’Connell slowed down a bit to make the curvy ride more enjoyable.  Jake glanced back and saw that Zach’s and Julie’s sponsors were managing to keep pace with Mr. O’Connell. After twenty minutes, everyone pulled into a small parking lot on the western tip of the peninsula.

Several families were gathered at the overlook, all taking pictures of the breathtaking view. The sight of the water overwhelmed Jake, and he swallowed hard, suppressing memories of his father’s sailboat and better days. Maggie guided the group to the best vantage point. Unlike some of the spectacular cliffs they had passed on the way, this section of the peninsula was only fifteen feet above the ocean. The water appeared calm, but Jake recalled his dad’s many lectures on strong currents and sudden waves.

He looked around at the other tourists and caught sight of a toddler dressed in a thick pink sweater and matching pants. She tottered after a butterfly, swinging her arms in an attempt to catch it. The insect fluttered away from the throngs of people, toward the edge of the cliff, with the child still in pursuit.

Jake swiveled his head around. Nobody is paying attention to her. He took off toward the girl, screaming for somebody to stop her, but before anyone could move, the child vanished over the edge. At full speed, Jake shed his shoes and plunged off the cliff.

***End of excerpt***

About Sean Vogel

Growing up in a small town in Michigan during the 1980s, Sean was provided with an excellent garden for cultivating his writing career. With only a few simplistic video games and three television channels, he became an accomplished daydreamer and a creative outside adventurer.

A son of a garbage truck driver, Sean often received “gently used” items from his father’s route. With a bit of imagination and a little tinkering, these items were reborn as tools for battles against backyard bandits. These childhood experiences would later serve as the foundation and inspiration for Jake McGreevy’s gadgetry expertise.

Seeking his own adventures, Sean joined the Army via an ROTC scholarship at Colorado State University. Living in Germany for several years gave him the opportunity to travel extensively in Europe. During his time in the Army, he served in the Field Artillery and Signal Corp, rising to the rank of Captain and receiving the Bronze Star Medal for his service in Iraq.

Sean started drafting novels out of boredom during long deployments in the military; a pen is easier to carry than a guitar. But he soon fell in love with the frustrating, yet satisfying science called writing and has been hard at work ever since.

When he’s not helping his main character Jake get out of tangles, Sean is a department manager for a large aerospace company. He lives in Denver with his wife and their two dachshunds.

June 21, 2012

Cover Reveal - Save The Lemmings by ME

Ladies and gentlemen, let me introduce to you Natalie Isabelle Cailean Edwards. The N.I.C.E. girl who doesn’t always finish last – though sometimes it’s a struggle. Prissy and proud of it, Natalie always has a sappy, inspirational saying to offer. Smarter than your average 8th grader, Natalie is working on her latest invention, the texty-talky, with a little help from her three best friends.

Save the Lemmings, coming this summer!

I’m in love with this cover. It really tells you so much about the story; Natalie’s prim wardrobe, the media blitz she is subject to, she even has a Save the Lemmings pin! And I love the fonts used. Isn't my name pretty? (Is that vain? I don't mean for it to be.) 

I can’t wait for you all to read Save the Lemmings!

What do you think?

I'd love if you could help me share my new cover. Use one (or all) of those handy-dandy share buttons to spread the cover all over the internet.

June 20, 2012

Three Times A Charm with Max Anderson

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

This week author, Max Anderson, is visiting with us. Max, can you please tell us a little about you? 

I grew up as a struggling reader.  After surveying the market, I sensed the need for action-adventures and mysteries for readers 8 – 13, especially boys.

Using my extensive background experience in the production of dramatic motion pictures, videos, and television commercials, I’m able to bring that same visual excitement and heart-pounding action to my stories. Each book by one publisher has different characters, setting, and plot. In addition, with a second publisher, I have a traditional series called the Sam Cooper adventure series.

Nine books are published, with an additional twenty-seven manuscripts completed. My tenth book has just been contracted by a third publisher. Young readers have reported that reading one of these books is like actually being in an exciting movie.

That sounds like fun. Tell us more about your books.

Though I write for all readers 8 and up, I like to make a point that they are written especially for boys. There’s more information about this at Books for Boys Blog:  http://booksandboys.blogspot.com I also have a number of book trailers and other videos about reading at http://www.youtube.com/user/Maxbooks100 Probably the most important thing to know about me is that I grew up hating to read, even though my father published over 70 books.

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

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

Never give up, never give up, never…never…ever give up.

  • Top 3 personal and/or professional goals.

1.      Make the next book better than the last
2.      Write each book as if you were the reader
3.      See one or more of your books as a motion picture one day

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

Author was never one of them. In fact, I came kicking and screaming to writing in an attempt not to take it up. The one profession I always wanted to pursue was as a forest ranger because I love wild animals and the outdoors. The third profession is the one I chose for my life’s work. This was the production of films, videos, and television commercials. My work in this field has had great impact on my books. While writing each one, I see them as films, in my mind, and not books.

Max, where can our tech-savvy readers go to keep up with you and your work?

Thank you for visiting with us on this week’s Three Times A Charm, Max. Best of luck with your writing!

Thank you.

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.

June 18, 2012

Your Story: How Does Your Reader See It?

I was breezing down the aisle in the grocery store one day and saw a gentleman staring at the shelves with a confused look on his face. His stooped posture forced him to bend in a strange sideways manner in order to look at the top shelf. He ran a hand through his flyaway white hair and scratched his wrinkled cheek, knocking his coke bottle glasses askew. I stopped and asked, “Can I help you find something?”

“Oh that would be great.” He breathed a sigh of relief. “I’m looking for the Special K.”

I smiled confidently and spun toward the shelves. They yawned in both directions; so long they actually appeared to grow smaller toward each end of the aisle. My smile faded. There were four rows, stocked to capacity with several hundred choices. Were they in any sort of order? I’d never considered that before. I blinked up at the top row that even I’d have to extend myself to reach and I was at least half a foot taller than the stooped old man. I’d never seen the cereal aisle like that before.

Remember to take the time to see your story from the viewpoint of your reader. It might look completely different from their vantage point.

June 13, 2012

Three Times A Charm with Clara Batton Smith

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

This week author, Clara Batton Smith is visiting with us. Welcome, Clara. Can you please tell us a little about you?
I started out in the theatre world designing costumes for Chicago Children's Theatre, Northwestern University, Chicago Symphony Orchestra and various film companies. I was using some collage techniques in my costume rendering and realized I enjoyed making the renderings better than any other part of the design process. Eventually my renderings turned into my artwork. I now make mixed media pieces inspired by various showgirls, religious icons, musicians and watercolor pieces for children. My work has been shown in Illinois, New York, California, Florida and Melbourne, Australia notably with Chicago Artists' Collective and featured in the House of Blues Hotel.
My illustrations can be seen in Short and Scary Anthology published by Black Dog Books, Pocketful Illustration Magazine, Immagination Cafe and Guardian Angel Kids on-line magazine. I have illustrated two books for Guardian Angel Publishing, Midsummer Dance by Bill Kirk and My Sister is My Best Friend by Nicole Weaver. Elliott & Anastacia is the first book that I have both written and illustrated.
I recently moved shop (and the rest of her life) to Melbourne, Australia where I live with my husband, little boy, mental puppy and have fallen madly in love with koalas.
I fell in love with koalas as a young girl when my dad gave me a stuffed one. I’ve never met one up close. I’m quite envious of your adorable picture!

Let’s hear more about Elliott & Anastacia.

I met the real life Elliott at the Ballarat Wildlife Park and became his sponsor through the Australian Koala Foundation.  The money from Elliott’s sponsorship goes to save koala habitats throughout Australia.  Being his sponsor has allowed me special visits with him when I go to Ballarat.  The first time I was able to visit he had a roommate named Anastacia.  I was in love!

I started drawing the two koala friends together doing different things and now, thanks to Guardian Angel Publishing, they are all together in a book.

I still paint my two favorite koalas all the time.  You can see more of Elliott & Anastacia  on my blog www.cbsillos.blogspot.com

The book is available from the Guardian Angel Publishing website.
Also available from amazon.com, barnesandnoble.com and booktopia.com.au

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.
The Comic Strip Art of Lyonel Feininger, edited by Bill Blackbeard.
Two of my favorite paintings in the Art Institute of Chicago are by Feininger but it wasn’t until recently that I learned he also made comic strips.  The artwork in his comics is fantastic.  I really love this book because it was also my first Mother’s Day present.

The Velveteen Rabbit, by Margery Williams
When I was little, my mother read The Secret Garden to me. She sobbed through the whole last chapter.  It wasn’t until I was older and went back and read the book myself that I even knew what happened in the end.  My Dad and I have teased her about this for years.  My son was premature and had to stay in the hospital for three weeks after he was born.  I would sit by his incubator and read to him.  My sister sent him a copy of the Velveteen Rabbit, which I had not read in years.  Lo and Behold I get to the ending and start sniffling and tearing up.  I kept on but the crying just got worse.  Tears turned to laughter as I realized the full circle moment that was happening with my little boy as I read this beautiful story to him.

Where the Wild Things Are, by Maurice Sendak
This past year has definitely been filled mostly with children’s books, which is fine by me.  Buddy (my son) and I love to read all about Wild Things.  A few weeks before Mr. Sendak passed away I found Buddy chewing away at the pages of our favorite book and honestly was not happy, that is until the day after Mr. Sendak died and I read this….

“Once a little boy sent me a charming card with a little drawing on it. I loved it. I answer all my children’s letters — sometimes very hastily — but this one I lingered over. I sent him a card and I drew a picture of a Wild Thing on it. I wrote, “Dear Jim: I loved your card.” Then I got a letter back from his mother and she said, “Jim loved your card so much he ate it.” That to me was one of the highest compliments I’ve ever received. He didn’t care that it was an original Maurice Sendak drawing or anything. He saw it, he loved it, he ate it.”
Maurice Sendak

  • Top 3 tools of the trade you couldn’t live without.
My three favorite paintbrushes.  At one time or another each brush has been chewed to almost splinters by my insane puppy.  Thank goodness for my handy dandy glue gun putting each of them back together.  Somehow the brushes get shorter and shorter each time she goes on a chewing spree but so far they are hanging in there.

  • Top 3 illustrators.

Gris Grimly, Joe Fenton and José Quintero

I love your Velveteen Rabbit story, very sweet.

Clara, though I’m sure we’d all rather hop on a plane and visit you in Australia, where can our tech-savvy readers go to keep up with you and your work?

Thank you for visiting with us on this week’s Three Times A Charm, Clara. Best of luck with your art and welcome to the world of writing!


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.

June 11, 2012

Viji K. Chary Presents her Picture Book, Porcupine's Seeds

Today the World of Ink tour brings us our guest, Viji K. Chary, here to talk about her new picture book, Porcupine's Seeds.

Viji K. Chary was born in India and immigrated to the United States at the age of two. Her passion for writing stories began in elementary school and has evolved from coaching children in various activities; including gymnastics, classroom activities and creative competitions. Her stories have been published in Highlights for Children, Ladybug Magazine, Hopscotch for Girls and many more.

About the Book:
Porcupine longs to grow beautiful sunflowers in his garden just like Raccoon. When Raccoon give Porcupine seeds, she says that all they need is soil, sun, and water. But growing sunflowers is not easy for Porcupine.

I’m especially thrilled to host Viji because we used to be critique partners. It feels like forever ago, but really it has only been a few years. However it is so lovely to be able to celebrate publications with those who I’ve shared the journey with.

Kai: Viji, let’s talk about your recent release, Porcupine's Seeds. What age range is your book for?

Viji: Porcupine’s Seeds is written for ages 4 – 8.

Kai: Can you share a memory of yours or a story of you from when you were within the age range of your target readers?

Viji: I loved Amelia Bedelia when I was eight, and still do. The play on words that

Peggy Parish uses, I think, is ingenious.

Kai: How has life changed for children today than when you were that age?

Viji: I think that today there is less time to be bored and therefore force children to invent imaginative activities. I remember being bored as a kid, and then finding things to occupy myself. I remember playing ‘pickle’ with the neighbor’s six kids and their dad. Do kids even know what ‘pickle’ is these days? While there is a place for modern technology, I think children use it far too much.

Kai: How is life still the same?

Viji:  A good story is timeless. Bedtime stories still have a special place. Even now, being read to is enjoyed by all ages. And always, children need a secure, loving home to thrive.

Kai: What was your favorite toy or activity when you were that age?

Viji:  It is bit difficult recalling what I did at 4 through 8 years old. But, I clearly remember playing ‘Batman and Robin’ in the school playground in first grade. I was ‘Cat Girl’. Imaginative play was big at that time.

Kai: Absolutely! My friends and I were always pretending to be either a pack of dogs or a herd of wild horses and we would run all over the playground. Viji, what inspired Porcupine’s Seeds and how did you decide on this age range for your book?

Viji: What inspired it was an incident when my son was four years old. We planted seeds in a small pot. When he came indoors, he tripped on the threshold and the soil and the seeds scattered. This sparked the story line.

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 Porcupine’s Seeds?

Viji: Three small clay pots, sunflower seeds, enough soil to fill the pots, and a small watering pot would be in the basket.

Kai: What a lovely gift that would make. Readers, you heard her! I hope you take advantage of that the next time you need a gift for a 4 –8 year old.

Thank you for visiting with us today, Viji. It has been so wonderful hosting you again. Readers, you can read another lovely interview we shared 3 years ago to get to know Viji a little more, here

You can find out more about Viji K. Chary’s World of Ink Author/Book Tour at http://tinyurl.com/6wewb3c

June 7, 2012

Cover Reveal - The Wishing Well, Another Weaver Tale by ME

Once upon a time there was an emerging author who simply wished to sign a book contract with a publisher. EA thought her talents were natural and developed and couldn’t understand the rejections she received from editors and agents galore. EA finally joined an online critique group. She smugly submitted a story for critique and sat back waiting for the praise. Her ego was purplish and tender after reading through the honest (and frankly well thought out – yeah, whatever!) evaluations of her work. Stupid critique group. What do they know?

However, there was enough praise peppered through out that after a bag of Reeses and a bottle of Shiraz she cautiously submitted another story to the critique group. And then another. Then she critiqued the work submitted by her fellow critters and learned even more about her own work and saw shining examples of strong writing. EA was inspired to write. To write a lot. And to write better. EA developed a huge crush on her critique group (as a whole, nothing creepy about that.) EA also realized she wasn’t writing for the correct audience. 

Years and years and maybe even more years later, EA got a book contract. Life was good. The end.

Oh, but wait. EA wasn’t satisfied with only one published book. Look at all those other authors who have more than one book to promote. Look at how much fun it is to stack copies of different books on your table at signing events. When people asked, “Do you have any books published?” see how EA almost apologized for only having one title to refer to. 

SEE how close EA is to having the second?

THE WISHING WELL, Another Weaver Tale

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.

EA is very happy.

You can help EA by tweeting or facebooking the link to this book cover reveal. Just use those nifty buttons right there at the bottom of this post.

EA loves you! (there’s nothing creepy about that! So just drop it.)

On a more serious note. Thank you to illustrator, K.C. Snider, for the lovely artwork for this cover. Your talent amazes and inspires me.

June 6, 2012

Three Times A Charm with Shevi Arnold

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

This week author, Shevi Arnold, joins us. Shevi, tell us about you.

When I was little, I wanted to be God. But I discovered that job was already taken. So I decided I wanted to be a movie director. It seemed like the second-best way to create worlds.

As I grew up, I started telling stories to the little kids on the bus and my cousins’ little kids. It was fun, and I loved the enrapt looks on their faces when they listened to my tales. When I read the essays I had written for school to the rest of my class, they howled with laughter. Even the teachers enjoyed my writing.

In college I majored in English Literature and Theater Studies, because the university I attended only offered communications as a master’s degree. I still wanted to create worlds, but somewhere along the way I discovered that directing movies might not be the best way to do that. Directors have to deal with so many people who don’t share their vision for what those worlds should look like. Novelists, on the other hand…

So I decided to become a writer, but before I became a novelist, I worked in newspapers and magazines. Over twelve years I worked as an editorial cartoonist, a newspaper illustrator, a comics magazine editor, an arts-and-entertainment writer, and a consumer columnist. But then my husband and I discovered that our son was autistic, and the best schools for him were far away in New Jersey. So we quit our jobs, packed up our things, and moved.

After the anthrax scare of September 11, 2001, I found it hard to find freelance work as a journalist. I asked my husband what I should do. He asked me what I wanted to do. I told him that for a long time I wanted to write a novel. And so I did.

 Since then I’ve written seven novels and I’ve published three--Toren the Teller’s Tale, Dan Quixote: Boy of Nuevo Jersey, and Ride of Your Life.  Why My Love Life Sucks, book one in the Gilbert the Fixer series will be out later this year. After that, who knows?

Tell us more about your most recent book, Ride of Your Life.

The summary:

Seventeen-year-old Tracy Miller met the love of her life . . . thirty years after her own death. Tracy was working at the House of Horrors at the Amazing Lands Theme Park when the fire broke out. Instead of running, she lost her life trying to save eleven-year-old Mack. Now suddenly, thirty years after the fire, everything changes with the arrival of two new ghosts: a little girl named Ashley and a cute seventeen-year-old boy named Josh. Josh would do anything for Tracy, but can he help her let go of the past and accept his love? 

Ride of Your Life is a bittersweet, romantic, YA ghost story that was inspired by a true event: the Great Adventure Haunted Castle fire, which killed eight teenagers in 1984. It is a fantasy novel about undying love, and it won third-place in Smart Writer’s Write It Now (W.I.N.) contest in the YA category, which was judged by Alex Flinn, the author of Beastly and Cloaked. Hang on. Love can be as terrifying as a roller coaster, but it could also be the Ride of Your Life.

Purchase from Amazon. The paperback is coming in a matter of days J!

Ride of Your Life sounds great! I can’t wait to read it.

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

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

The top three tools of the trade I couldn’t live without are my computer, my imagination, and my sense of humor. I also need books, lots and lots of books.

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

Do you want to be a writer? If so, here are three things you should do to get started.

First, read. Read a lot. Read classics, and read current bestsellers. Read in the genre you want to write in, but also give others a try. Read books about correct English usage, writing, publishing, and the writing life. Read, read and read. But don’t just read for pleasure. Read like a writer. Analyze what you read. What do you like about that part right there? What don’t you like? How does this thing or that thing make you feel? Are there places you feel bored, and are there places you just couldn’t put the book down? How might you fix the boring parts? How did the author make the book so exciting? Analyze everything, even the word choice. How does the author use adverbial phrases? Do they work? What would happen if you tried to replace those adverbial phrases with nouns and verbs? Analyze it all.

Second, apply what you’ve learned by analyzing these texts to your own writing. Is there a hero or heroine you’ve fallen in love with? If so, what is it about that character you admire, and how can you make your hero or heroine equally compelling? Do you like books that start slowly with a lot of description, or do you prefer books that jump right into the action? How can you give your own book the kind of beginning you like to see in other books?

Third, learn to separate yourself from your work. It seems like such a simple thing, but I’ve found the biggest stumbling block for so many new writers is they haven’t learned this very basic skill. They’re like those contestants on American Idol or America’s Got Talent who have never performed in front of an audience. Their egos are so tied up in their performance that they end up running away from the audition in tears or shouting that the judges don’t know what they’re talking about. You aren’t your story, and when someone says something critical about your story, it doesn’t mean there’s something wrong with you. The worst thing with having your ego tied up with your work is that it can prevent you from even starting. So many new writers are terrified to put anything down on paper because they’re afraid it won’t be perfect. First drafts are never perfect! Heck, I’ve even edited my answers in this interview. That’s what editing is for. So let your story be as awful as it needs to be—but get it written down! Don’t be afraid of criticism, and don’t be your own worst critic. Not every reader will love your story. That’s just the truth. But there’s something to be learned from every reader, just like there’s something to be learned from everything you read. Sometimes you learn more from something that’s badly written. You learn why you didn’t like it, and you learn how to do it better.

And I’d like to add just one more thing: have fun. 

  • Top 3 pieces of advice for kids these days.

1. Be yourself. There’s only one you. You have a special gift to give to the world, and only you can give it. But you can’t do that if you’re afraid to stand out from the crowd. Don’t give a damn about what other people think. The people we most admire are those who aren’t afraid to be themselves.

2. Let others be who they are. Don’t look down at someone because he or she is different. That person also has a unique gift that only he or she can give. Encourage that person. I believe bullying happens because we don’t respect each other’s differences, and we let bullying happen because we don’t respect our own unique gifts. It’s a theme in two of my books—Dan Quixote: Boy of Nuevo Jersey and Toren the Teller’s Tale. In both books, the title characters eventually come to embrace the things that make them special. If there’s one thing I want readers to take away from those books, it’s that feeling that it’s great to be exactly who you were meant to be. The world could be a wonderful place if we all encouraged one another to embrace and share our unique gifts.

3. Be humble and pay attention, because there’s something to be learned from every person you meet. Don’t think you know it all, because you don’t. No one does. But the smartest people are those who are always open to learning something new, and there’s something new to learn everywhere you look. You can learn perseverance by looking at an ant carrying a piece of food bigger than itself to its colony’s ant hill. If you can learn that from a lowly ant, just imagine what you could learn from the people around you?

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


Thank you for joining us for this week’s Three Times A Charm. I always enjoy visiting with you, Shevi. Best of luck with your writing.


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.

June 5, 2012

Exciting, Sparkly Book News!

So much has been happening and I want to compile all my exciting, sparkly book news into one place.

Releasing in 2012:

Save the Lemmings

8th grade inventor, Natalie Isabelle Cailean Edwards is the N.I.C.E. girl who finishes last with the kids in school. Sappy inspirational phrases and monochromatic outfits have all but her best friends wrinkling their nose at her. When Natalie’s invention, the Texty-Talky, goes nationwide, she becomes an overnight sensation. Suddenly her days consist of photo shoots and interviews with little time left for her friends. A local reporter shatters her good-girl image by reporting a graffiti incident and the media launches into a smear campaign. It is so bad, even her friends start to believe the stories. How will Natalie stop the lies and win her friends back? And who will SAVE THE LEMMINGS?

The Wishing Well, Another Weaver Tale

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.

Releasing in 2013

King of Bad

I’m super excited to be joining the ranks of young adult author with this release.

            Sixteen-year-old bad boy, Jeff Mean, has a way with the girls and their mothers. He’d rather be off setting fires than following rules or observing curfew. Jeff wears his bad boy image like a favorite old hoodie; that is until he’s recruited to Super Villain Academy -- where you learn to be good at being bad. In a school where one kid can evaporate all the water from your body and the girl you hang around with can regularly perform psychic sex in your head, bad takes on a whole new meaning. Jeff wonders if he’s bad enough for SVA.
            He may never find out. Abducted not once but twice, Jeff’s life is turned upside down and leaves him wondering who is good and who is bad. Worse yet, he’s horrified to admit that he is developing manners and alienating his fellow villains. To everyone’s surprise, his rescue is the climactic episode that balances good and evil. And the girl he’s been crushing on is the catalyst. But is that necessarily a good thing?

Ongoing Publications

Don’t forget I’m a staff writer for Knowonder, an online children’s magazine. They publish a new story everyday that you can sit down and read with your children. Download the app to stay in touch.

Please visit my website for an updated record of ‘coming soon’ short stories and for links to the published ones. Download hidden word searches, book club discussion sheets, crafts.

Like my author page on facebook to get the fun and exciting announcements such as; book cover reveals, story publications or book signings.

Thanks for sharing my exciting news with me. And thanks for READING!

June 4, 2012

Cover Reveal of When The Butterflies Came by Kimberley Griffiths Little

Author, Kimberley Griffiths Little has recently revealed the cover to her upcoming novel, When The Butterflies Came, scheduled for release Spring of 2013! And it is a beauty!

Here is the synopsis:

Everybody thinks Tara Doucet has the perfect life. But in reality, Tara’s life is anything but perfect: Her dear Grammy Claire has just passed away, her mother is depressed and distant, and she and her sister Riley can’t seem to agree on anything. But when mysterious and dazzling butterflies begin to follow her around after Grammy Claire’s funeral, Tara just knows in her heart that her grandmother has left her one final mystery to solve.
A strange butler shows up to take Tara and Riley to Grammy Claire’s house, where Tara finds a stack of keys and detailed letters from Grammy Claire herself. Note by note, Tara learns unexpected truths about her grandmother’s life. As the letters grow more ominous and the keys more difficult to decipher, Tara realizes that the secrets she must uncover could lead to mortal danger. And when Tara and Riley are swept away to the beautiful island of Chuuk to hear their grandmother’s will, Tara discovers the most shocking truth of all — one that will change her life forever.
From Kimberley Griffiths Little comes a magical, breathtaking mystery full of loss and love, family and faith.

And here is the cover!!!!!

Kimberley is celebrating by giving lots of goodies away. If you know ANYTHING about Kimberley, you know she’s a goodie-giveawayer. Hop on over to her blog to enter for a chance to win one of her fabulous books.

BEFORE you go, I want to know…what is your favorite thing about this beautiful cover?

June 1, 2012

Knowonder Relaunch - A Story A Day

Parents, teachers, caregivers. Grandparents, counselors, aunts. Lend me your ear.

Knowonder, an online children’s magazine, is announcing its relaunch. It is bigger and better than ever! Promising a story a day, Knowonder is a valuable partner for parents and educators in promoting literacy. Some of the exciting features the newly redesigned site offers is:

§         New stories every day
§         3 new non-fiction articles each week
§         8 content categories, including classic favorites, kid stories and kid art
§         Contests & prizes; your opinion matters! Vote for your favorites to assure you see more like them in the future!
§         IPhone app available
§         Android app coming soon!

I am thrilled to be a staff writer for this newly designed site, but they are still open for submissions. Check the site for guidelines.

TODAY is the big day. Click on over to the newly designed Knowonder website. Browse, read, vote, read, download apps, read. Like what you see? Share, share, share. I’d love if you would help paper the internet with the news. Post a link on your Facebook page. Tweet about it. Email it to family and friends.

Then, visit daily and share a new story each day with your children.

Happy reading!