November 30, 2012

Book Gifts Need Book Swag!

This time of year it can be difficult to choose which books to buy for the children in your life. Well, I want to make my books just a bit more desirable for you. Naturally that means SWAG! Awesome, epic swag that you can include with your gift.

If you buy either of The Weaver Tales (The Weaver or The Wishing Well) your swag pack will include:

Greeting cards featuring Unwanted (blank inside)
Sticker featuring Unwanted
Book lover sticker
Signed, personalized bookplate

If you buy Save the Lemmings your swag pack will include:

I Love Lemmings magnet
Lemmings sticker
Book lover sticker
Signed, personalized bookplate

Oh, imagine the sparkle in your child’s eye when they can ‘join’ the Save the Lemmings cause, or defend the poor misunderstood Unwanted! Not only will they have hours of joy reading the books, but they will also have lasting, coordinating keepsakes – straight from the author.

How do you claim your swag pack, you ask? Just email a copy of a receipt showing the purchase of my book(s) dated between December 1st and December 15th. Include your address and the name of the reader for personalization. I’ll mail out the swag pack right away so that you can make a nice little literary bundle of a gift.

*Fine print* Supplies are limited, so claim fast! Purchase can be from any vendor, virtual or physical, Vendor’s information and date should be visible on receipt. U.S. mailing addresses only, please. Author not responsible for delays in delivery.

Help me out, by spreading the word. Thanks so much. Happy Holidays.

November 28, 2012

Three Times A Charm with Michael Hebler and Anita Driessen

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

This week we have a tag team of author and illustrator visiting with their seasonal title! Michael Hebler and Anita Driessen are visiting with us. Let’s start with you telling us a little about yourselves. 

Michael Hebler (Author) - I am a native to Southern California where I still reside.  In addition to writing, I am also a film publicist, currently working unit publicity.  I began writing in college where I was fortunate to watch my first penned one-act play performed on stage by the Orange Coast College Theatre Department (which is where Anita and I had first met) and was hooked from that moment, and the writing bug has never left.  I currently have three publications.  In addition to 'The Night After Christmas', I have also published two books in my adult Chupacabra Series, 'Hunt for the Chupacabra' a free short story that precedes the events of Book I, 'Night of the Chupacabra' just released October 17, 2012.  I also like to ramble on my blog in my down time.

Anita Driessen (Illustrator) - I followed a very crooked path to realize what I wanted to do when I grew up.  From spending two years studying the dark art of Forensic Psychology, to earning a Bachelor's degree designing stages in Scenic Design, I ran the proverbial gamut of career paths to get to the answer of my life's purpose — illustration and spinning a great yarn.  I wondered if I had wasted my time with forensics and scenic design, but when I analyzed my choices it all made sense: 1) Forensic Psychology: Love Agatha Christie, dark artwork, and all things mysterious. Edward Gorey makes me laugh, 2) Scenic Design: Created worlds for characters, designed landscapes and cities and painted the skies with my favorite colors, 3) Eureka! Illustrator with a smidge of a dark side.  So no regrets, because like a great LONG mystery these clues led me to where I was supposed to go.  I did finally hitch my wagon to the Academy of Art University in San Francisco and received my Master's in Illustration while getting schooled on how much I still needed to learn. I know there are many more mysteries to uncover, and interactive media is the next exciting turn in the unfolding mystery of my life.  The game is afoot!

Tell us about The Night After Christmas.

'The Night After Christmas' extends Clement C. Moore's classic tale and is about Santa returning to his home at the North Pole after completing his busiest night of the year.  The storybook is available in both 8.5 x 8.5" softback and e-book formats, and is recommended for believers of any age.

 Now, for the Threes. Share with us your top 3’s to help us know you a little better. This should be really fun with two of you answering.

  • Top 3 authors. - (Michael's answers)  1) J.K. Rowling is one of my newest favorites.  I originally hesitated to read the 'Harry Potter Series' because I'm not normally one for jumping on the bandwagon, but am I ever glad I didn't listen to myself.  I think J.K. writes great children's stories for adults.  2) Charles Dickens is one of the greats.  I haven't read all his work but 'A Christmas Carol' is one of my favorite stories so he must be included.  3) And then I would probably have to say Michael Crichton because of how he was able to make his fiction seem non-fictional with his science-based theories.  I can't think of anything more interesting than making the impossible become possible.

Top 3 illustrators. - (Anita's answers)  1) Edward Gorey has been a favorite of mine since I was 9-years-old when I first saw his illustrations as the opening sequence on 'Mystery' on PBS. He had a hilarious but dark style that I found irresistible, and still do.  2) Mary Grandpre is the illustrator for the Harry Potter books printed in America. Her lush colors and swirling patterns are perfectly dream-like and her pictures never fail to transport me into different worlds. Check out her book 'Plum,' it's wonderful!  3) Dr. Seuss-is there anything that needs to be said other than he is the BEST!

  • Top 3 pieces of advice for kids these days.  1) Always be yourself and be proud of your own thoughts, your accomplishments, and your imagination.  2) Nothing meaningful comes easy.  Always work hard and you'll be able to achieve whatever you wish.  Your limitations are only set by you.  3) Listen to your gut instincts because 99.99999% of the time, it will be right.  Trust in yourself.

The Night After Christmas illustration
Okay, where can our tech-savvy readers go to keep up with you two and your work?

Anita has an array of her illustrations on display on her website, and all of Michael's fictional work can be found at, where he also has some information on his upcoming titles.  You can also follow and "Like" The Night After Christmas on Facebook:

Print and E-books are available at, Barnes &, iTunes, and most online retailers.

Thanks Michael and Anita for joining us on this week’s Strands of Thought. Best of luck with The Night After Christmas and your individual work, too.


I am always looking for guests for Three Times A Charm. If you are an author, illustrator or book reviewer, an agent, editor or publicist. If you have something related to children’s publishing that you’d like people to know about, contact me about a future appearance.

November 21, 2012

Three Times A Charm with Penelope Anne Cole

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 we are visiting with author, Penelope Anne Cole. Penelope, can you share a little about yourself? 

I'm Penelope Anne Cole, author of "Magical Matthew."  I’ve had various positions in government service Human Resources (HR) and in teaching both adults and children.  Now I write and review children's books.  I love reading to children to encourage them to read on their own and love literature.  I live in Silicon Valley with my family and our rescued cats and dogs.  I enjoy dog walking, reading, gardening, church activities, singing in choir, and watching select TV shows: drama, comedy, romance, crime solving, and happy-ending movies.  I have a Multiple Subject Teaching Credential and a Masters in Education.

Impressive credentials! And thank you for the support you show other authors and illustrators with your reviews.

Tell us about Magical Matthew.

Magical Matthew is my first published book.  It was inspired by my friend's son, Matthew, when he attained "double digits.”  That milestone marks the magical transition that children make from being an elementary "kid," to a middle school "tween."  They lose their childhood “innocence” but gain a growing maturity.  From there the idea developed about a boy with magical powers to fix things with his mind.

Now for the threes. Share your top three to the following to help us know you better.

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

Since the J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter series ended, I’ve been looking for another series -- stories I can’t put down.  Last month I finished Michael Scott’s six book series, The Alchemyst, which begins with The Secrets of the Immortal Nicholas Flammel.  Scott blends myth and fantasy with historical characters.  It’s a very satisfying series.  That’s ended, so I found another series.  I’m reading N.D. Wilson’s The Dragon’s Tooth:  Ashtown Burials.  It’s another engrossing fantasy series.

  • Top 3 leisure activities.

            My three favorite leisure activities are (1) reading fantasy and myth stories, (2) watching well-written “Who Done it” crime-solving TV shows, and (3) spending time with my family.

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

            I wanted to be a writer, a critic, and a teacher.  I’ve been fortunate to engage in all three of these professions.

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

Thanks for joining us on this week’s Strands of Thought, Penelope. Best of luck with your writing!


I am always looking for guests for Three Times A Charm. Especially lately since I’ve been really busy and haven’t been able to recruit guests! GUESTS WANTED! 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.

November 18, 2012

My Thankfulness - Indie-giving Blogfest

I am participating in the Indie-giving Blogfest hosted by the Indelibles.
It was a little more than three years ago that rejection started to change me. I was increasingly short tempered and frequently reacted to someone's good news with a cynical view. I think I might even have been growling at my children on a regular basis. At least in my head if not out loud! So, I quit writing.

I quit for awhile. Months! It wasn't easy. Writing called to me, but at the same time it left me with a sour stomach. During that time I met the lovely Lynda Burch, owner of Guardian Angel Publishing. We had such a nice talk about children's publishing, her forward vision for her company and various unrelated things. I had nothing to pitch her, so I was relaxed and thoroughly enjoyed myself that evening.

A couple months later a thought struck me. "The Weaver would be a perfect fit for Guardian Angel Publishing!" But I was no longer a writer! Yet I really thought GAP would like the book. With a sinking feeling I realized that I was about to un-quit.

This past summer I saw two more of my manuscripts published into paper and ink, real live books (and ebooks, too). I've also signed contracts for two books to be published next year. Holy Wow!

In an odd way, quitting was the best thing to happen to me. Had I been an unpublished writer at that dinner the evening I met Lynda Burch, I would have been nervous and awkward and wondering how to bring up my book and if I should mention my published short stories.

So that's what I'm thankful for. I'm thankful I recognized the need to walk away. The need to de-stress and to stop beating a dead horse. I didn't write a thing for those months that I quit because it hurt to much. Mostly it sliced my psyche to shreds. However it slashed at my heart as well. A mental and physical pain that left me quavering when I looked at a keyboard. When I finally decided to un-quit, I was tentative and cautious, but the worst of it had healed over and allowed me to try again.

Now it is time for me to say thanks to you - my readers. I don't do this writing stuff for myself. I do it to share words with kids and teens and their adults. To say thank you for indulging me by reading my words, I'm offering a $10 Amazon Gift Card (via email) to one lucky winner. The only required entry is your email address so that I can send the card to you if you win. The other stuff is only if you really, really want a chance to win! Have fun with it. Good luck and...


a Rafflecopter giveaway

Be sure to visit the other blogs on the hop to learn what other authors are thankful for. You can find the links on the Indelibles website

November 14, 2012

Three Times A Charm with Illustrator, Julie Hammond

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

This week illustrator Julie Hammond, joins us. Julie, tell us about you.

Hello readers. My names Julie Hammond. I illustrate, and occasionally write, children's books. I draw a lot of my inspiration (see what I did there?) from my family, work and the outdoors. This has been a great year for my art career because by the end of Spring 2013 I will have illustrated 7 picture books. That's crazy cool! 

My work is done digitally but I just recently switched from traditional watercolor.
I live in Saint Louis, Mo. with my super supportive husband and children, a lazy cat, a hamster and a fish named Dog.

You’re very punny, Julie! J Tell us more about your current projects.

At the moment I am working on another book from Guardian Angel Publishing. Most recently "Riley's Heart Machine" written by Lori Jones came out and has been a huge success thanks to Lori's talent and promotional skills to raise awareness of Congenital Heart Disease and pacemakers in children. Visit her website here.

By the end of November I will have a second book out by Mark Sutherland titled, "Santa Ate My Gingerbread House." That was a lot of fun to illustrate. This book is published by Dunrobin Publishing. Check out this super fun book trailer! 

I have a blog that I will be updating with more information on my books and really anything I feel like posting. So check it out at

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.
Here are three tools of the trade that I could not live with out. 1. my pencil/ or wacom tablet. 2. my computer and 3. people watching adorable children for inspiration. They do the funniest things! 

·        Top 3 snacks to munch on while working.
I am a huge muncher while I work. My top three snacks to nibble on are roasted almonds, Cheeze-it crackers, and apples with my special peanut butter dip. Here's my recipe: mix into natural peanut butter- sunflower seeds, raisins, chopped cashews and honey (or molasses.) Stir up really well then scoop up with crisp apple slices, like PInk Ladies! YUM!

·        Top 3 leisure activities.
When I am not illustrating or working at the children's area in the library you may find me... A. crafting something I found on Pintrest. B. hiking or running outdoors. or C. Watching food shows. My favorite is Sweet Genius!

Oh my gosh that dip sounds Ah-maze-ING! 

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

To see my work, drop a line, or just be nosey you can visit my website at, my blog at or be my friend on Facebook. 

It has been lovely hosting you this week. Thank you for joining us on Three Times A Charm. May your illustrations find their way into many little hands.

Thanks for the interview Kai. Those are some really fun questions!! –Julie
I am always looking for guests for Three Times A Charm. If you are an author, illustrator or book reviewer, an agent, an editor or a publicist. 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.

November 8, 2012

The Savvy Reader - Libraries

There are many ways to support your favorite authors. I’ve discussed this previously in the post How To HelpYour Favorite Authors/Books. Another big way is to make sure their books end up in your local library.

Most libraries have an online request form, such as this one for Hillsboro’s Main library: If it isn't immediately available on the front page of the library's website, it is usually found on the 'Contact Us' tab.

In order to complete the form you will need information such as, your library card #, the title of the book, author’s name and the reason why you think they should add it to their shelves.


The Wishing Well: Another Weaver Tale
Kai Strand
Second book in the series and you already carry The Weaver


Save the Lemmings
Kai Strand
Main character has a refreshingly positive attitude

You can even request they place the title on hold so that you can read it first when it comes in. But since you already have your own copy, you can decline that service.

Small press authors and self published titles don’t get the distribution that others get and it is impossible for a librarian to see every book that’s published to make sound decisions on what to purchase, so they happily rely on their patrons. Please take the time to submit a request for each of my books with your local library and then remember this for other books you are surprised not to find on library shelves.

To make it easier for readers to find their local library online, here is a link to the public libraries database:

November 7, 2012

Three Times A Charm with Margo Sorenson

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

This week author, Margo Sorenson, is visiting with us. Margo, can you share a little about yourself? 

I’ve been lucky enough (and believe me, it’s a lot about luck!) to be an author of twenty-eight books for young readers, After a childhood in Spain and Italy, raising a family, teaching middle and high school, and living in Hawaii and Minnesota, I now make my home in California with my husband, where I visit my adorable grandchildren, write, do school visits, and volunteer at the La Quinta Boys and Girls Club.  I can be found at and on Twitter as @ipapaverison.

28! That’s amazing! Congrats on all that good luck (and hard work J)

Tell us about your latest project.

In my newest middle grade/tween ebook, TIME OF HONOR, fourteen-year-old Connor’s smart mouth gets her in and—luckily—out of trouble on her prep school’s debate team and in the classroom.  On a field trip to the U.K., when she is suddenly catapulted into  the year 1272, she finds her royal new friends’ lives are threatened by a conspiracy fueled by greed.  When William and Maud learn that their father has been murdered on the Crusade, they beg her to help them find who is plotting against them.  William must confront his enemy in battle, but what does Connor discover about herself and her ability to use words well when she tries to save her new friends—and herself? Published by MuseItUp Publishing, Canada, (it’s fun being edited by Canadians!) it is available on, and

Oh my gosh, I just had a middle grade accepted by MuseItUp, the editorial comment is funny! Can’t wait. I’ll definitely add your book to my to-read list, I love time travel. Plus, the cover is great!

Now for the threes. Share your top three to the following to help us know you better.

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

For writing, I couldn’t live without a pencil, a notebook, and my laptop.  From the time I was a little kid, I’ve loved the scent of newly-sharpened pencils, because it just seems so full of promise – those wonderful words and sentences you’re going to write that will transport you (and hopefully, readers!) to another time and place.  There’s nothing like having a notebook, either, with those blank lines just begging to be filled with your scribblings and scrabblings.  I always write by hand, skipping lines, because there are so many words that need to be changed in those very first drafts – well, and in the later drafts, too (blush!).  I can’t imagine being anywhere without my pencils (and I always carry a hand pencil-sharpener!) and my notebook.  Where else would I jot down that stray thought – that quirky event I just witnessed – or another plot point or character insight for a work in progress? After I’ve written and revised many times in the notebook, which would be the same as only the first chapter of a middle grade or YA novel, or the entire manuscript of a picture book, then it’s time to put it onto the laptop.  Warning – avviso – advertencia – avertissement: I just spent eight weeks with a pencil and my notebook and it took me many, many hours working and reworking the 420 words of my newest picture book draft before I felt I could enter it onto the laptop.  Guess what?  It still needs many months of revision! The laptop is a blessing (easy to use for revisions) and a curse (those words look so perfect in Times New Roman). We writers have to remember the First Commandment of Writers:  Thou Shalt Not Fall In Love With Thine Own Words! (Thanks to Ellen Kozak for that)

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

In my opinion, one of the top skills to hone is a willingness to revise.  As writers, we have to work hard to be able to divorce ourselves from our words and our vested interest in what we’ve already written, so that we can accept critiques and suggestions and be willing to look at our work with a cold, hard eye and in a clear light, during those dark moments when nothing seems to be working, or, even harder, in those euphoric moments when everything seems to be working beautifully. It can be gut-wrenching!  William Faulkner wrote about “killing your darlings,” and it is so difficult to give up some of our favorite phrases, sentences, chapters, characters, and, yes, even manuscripts.  I have files and files on the laptop titled “outtakes.”  That seems to help just a bit to take the sting out of revisions.  Kind of.  Another top skill is persistence.  So many times we are ready to give up, throw in the towel, punt, have another glass of vino in the face of constant rejection.  Seriously, someone once said that the only difference between a professional and an amateur is that the professional didn’t quit. The third top skill would be willingness to risk.  This is where I fall down, big-time, since I love being safe.  Someday, I’d love to write as if no one were looking over my shoulder, but, at my age, that’s not likely to happen; so I leave that to all of you beginning and/or younger writers: write what you’re afraid of, write what you dare not, and I’ll be there, applauding fervently, as you cross the finish line of your wonderful manuscript that will rock the world as we know it.  Believe in yourself and in your dream.  As Beryl Markham (Ernest Hemingway was one of her admirers) wrote in her eloquent memoir WEST WITH THE NIGHT: “Work and hope, but never hope more than you work.” 

  • Top 3 leisure activities.

One of my top three leisure activities is reading – imagine that!  I usually read two books at the same time, and I enjoy YA fiction (DAIRY QUEEN, WINTERGIRLS, STORY OF A GIRL, TWILIGHT – yes, that!), adult fiction and non-fiction, especially sports books.  Authors who write about the fallibilities of memory like Hilary Mantel (WOLF HALL), Ian McEwan (ATONEMENT), and Kazuo Ishiguro (REMAINS OF THE DAY) I find enthralling, and the human interest factors of sports books, such as CARL HUBBELL: KING OF THE SCREWBALL and SAM: THE ONE AND ONLY SAM SNEAD add depth of character to the figures we read about or watch on the playing fields. Watching baseball is one of my favorite activities, because there’s something about the elegant rhythm of the game, the unspoken tension, the thwarted ambition, and the unfettered joy that speaks to the very basic essential nature of being human.  There are so many unwritten stories in every baseball game.  My top leisure activity is playing with my grandchildren; there’s something so renewing about seeing the world through their eyes, and I treasure each moment and giggle.  They keep me young (when they’re not wearing me out!) and their ebullience inspires me in my writing, and I love, love, love reading to them. My leisure activities do seem to center around the power of stories!

Margo, where can our tech-savvy readers go to keep up with you and your work?
Website:  There are lots of links on the “interviews” tab to visit!
Twitter:  @ipapaverison

Thanks Margo for joining us on this week’s Strands of Thought. Best of luck with your writing!


I am always looking for guests for Three Times A Charm. Especially lately since I’ve been really busy and haven’t been able to recruit guests! GUESTS WANTED! 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.

November 1, 2012

A New Book Contract!

I’m beyond thrilled to announce the sale of my middle grade fantasy, A New Being, to MuseItUp Publishing!

Facts about A New Being:

1.      First novel I ever wrote.
2.      Current version is nothing close to the original version (Duh and thank goodness!)
3.      Longest novel I’ve written.
4.      I have a crush on the main guy character, even though that isn’t really his purpose in the story.
5.      The main girl character in the book has long brown hair and lives in Wisconsin.
6.      I have long brown hair and grew up in Wisconsin (that’s where similarities end.)
7.      My lizard is named after the main villain.
8.      Tentatively scheduled for release mid 2013-ish.
9.      Title may or may not change.
10.  Book inspiration: I was anxiously awaiting the release of Order of the Phoenix when I decided to entertain myself by creating my own world.
11.  First character I thought of was a molly. A mole-like creature used as a trolley-or transportation animal-in the underworld.
12.  I thought of the molly in the shower.
13.  I finished writing the book in less than two months. Nine years ago!
14.  I cannot wait for you and your fantasy loving tweens & teens to be able to read it.

About the book:

As is tradition on the Saturday past her twelfth birthday, Terra learns she is a Nature’s Spirit and it is her legacy to serve in the peaceful underground city of Concord. Learning she is named in a prophecy and being threatened by the leader of the death tribe …that part breaks tradition. The Trepidus are the death janitors of the underworld, responsible for the cause and the clean up. Solitary creatures, they do their job and nothing more, but one of them, Blanco, believes they are superior beings and should take their place as head of Concord. He is organizing the creatures and leading them toward an uprising, but a prophecy says there is one person who can stop him. Terra.
With Spirit of Security, Frank protecting her, Terra completes her training and discovers her Spirit talents. Together, they go on a rogue investigation in order to figure out how to defeat Blanco before he can defeat Terra. In the end it comes down to a battle of the minds. The future of Concord depends on the outcome. Will Blanco, the older, more experienced being win? Or will Terra, the young, new being earn back the peace of the city?

♫ Everybody do the new book boogie with me! ♫

Oh, and speaking of books, I’m halfway through my virtual book tour with World of Ink. I'm touring The Wishing Well: Another Weaver Tale and Save the Lemmings. It has been SO much fun so far. If you haven’t had a chance to visit my October haunts, please do. I’ve updated my website with direct links to the posts so that you don’t have to scroll through a month’s worth of blog posts on my hosts’ sites. Though, that said, when you see something you like, feel free to browse. The host sites are chock full of great book and industry info. FYI: It’s always a good idea to leave comments on tour stops, because there is usually a blog hop going on and you could win something fun by taking a few extra seconds at each stop to say something.