January 31, 2013

World of Ink Presents Illustrator Jessica Love

Today the World of Ink tour brings us our guest, illustrator, Jessica Love, here to talk about her collaboration with author Sands Hetherington in Night Buddies, Impostors, and One Far-Out Flying Machine.

Kai: What age range is your book for?

Jessica: I think it will appeal to 8-10 year olds.

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?

Jessica: I grew up in the woods, in the middle of the Los Padres National Forest, in Southern California. I was happiest playing imagination games by myself, or drawing. I would sit in my room for hours and hours, illustrating these stories that I would narrate to myself as I drew them. I had a penchant for melodramatic, sweeping tales, and I would often work myself into hysterical tears as my epic tales would reach their apotheosis. I think at the time my dad was reading me The Lord of the Rings, and so it was important for all the stories to be incredibly high stakes. But I actually don't think that's unusual. Make believe, when you're a kid, is absolutely life or death.

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

Jessica: Technology is the obvious answer, I think. I suppose it's simplistic to say it's dulling imaginations, because I don't actually know whether or not that's true, as I don't have kids of my own yet who are within that age range. But I know that the way technology functions in my own life, and I see that there is something so totally absorbing about playing with an iPhone app that holds your focus in a vice-grip without really asking anything of you that is worrisome. I might just be a luddite, but I think the thing that strikes me as dangerous about it is the way it allows people to completely check out of the world around them---walking across the street while texting is the obvious danger, but I think there is a subtler price being paid as well.
Kai: How is life still the same?

Jessica: Cheerios remain delicious.

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

Jessica: Drawing and reading.

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 Night Buddies, Impostors, and One Far-Out Flying Machine?

Jessica: I think it would contain gadgets having to do with spying, adventuring, and night adventures: a flashlight, a magnifying glass, a skeleton key, a laser pointer, binoculars---tools of the midnight kid-detective.

Kai: Sounds like lots of fun! Thank you, Jessica, for visiting with us today.

About the Book: 

For young John Degraffenreidt, lying awake at night is no reason to fret when it brings a bright red crocodile named Crosley out from under his bed. Night Buddies like Crosley promise a big adventure to any kid not sleepy yet--and tonight is no different! Out of bed, and into the city, John starts on a very special Program (Night-Buddies-speak for adventure) with his crocodile friend. Crosley is a unique, wacky character, the only red crocodile in the world for sure, but look-alikes have started popping up all over town, committing crimes, causing confusion, and making Crosley crazy at the sight of them. The imposters must be stopped, and Night Buddies John and Crosley are just the ones to stop them! Stakeouts and wild chases in a fantastic flying machine, far-out schemes to snare the imposters with the help of old friends and new ones, and a never-ending supply of Crusted Crème Fro-Madge frozen yogurt make for one totally super night.

About the Illustrator:

Jessica Love grew up in California, with two artist parents. She studied pintmaking and
drawing at UC Santa Cruz, then went to study acting at The Juilliard School in NYC.
Jessica currently resides in Brooklyn, New York, toggling back and forth between her
work as an actor and her work as an artist.

You can find out more about Sands Hetherington, Jessica Love and the Night Buddies
series World of Ink Author/Book Tour at http://tinyurl.com/bysdkbv

Follow the Night Buddies at
Facebook Fan Page: www.facebook.com/nightbuddies
Twitter: @Night_Buddies
GoodReads Author Sands Hetherington
Publisher Website: www.dunebuggypress.com
To learn more about the World of Ink Tours visit http://worldofinknetwork.com

January 25, 2013

Building Character with Natalie and Trudy from Save the Lemmings

Welcome to my blog feature, Building Character in which you get to meet book characters. Talking to a character outside of their book is fun! Huge. Amounts. Of fun. Be sure to read all the way to the bottom to learn how you can enter for your chance to win a Kindle version of Save the Lemmings.

This week Strands of Thought welcomes Natalie and Trudy from Save the Lemmings. Girls, why don’t you introduce yourselves to our readers?

Hi, my name is Natalie Isabelle Cailean Edwards. I’m 12 yrs old and in the 8th grade at Carver Middle School. I have three lifelong friends who I can’t live without. My parents are the best parents a girl could ask for and my silly cat, Whisper, makes me smile every day with his grumpy-bear attitude.

Yeah, and I’m Trudy. I’ve been going to school with Natalie forever, so you can feel good and sorry for me. Did you notice her initials spell “nice”? I don’t know if her parents were prophetic or if Nat just took the whole “nice” thing way too far, but she’s annoyingly nice. She has an inspirational phrase for any occasion and she’s always trying to reform my friends and I. Like that’s EVER gonna happen.

Eighth grade at middle school! Certainly there is drama and angst. Tell us what kind of conflict you are up against.

Natalie: It wasn’t supposed to be a conflict at all. See, I’m an inventor. I take existing products and update them with current technology or improve on their function. My latest invention, The Texty-Talky, is being manufactured by my father’s company. Oh my goodness, if I could bottle the thrill I felt when we signed that contract! Anyway, everything was fine until the media got a hold of the story and somehow my life became theirs and I lost all control. They print everything I do plus they make up a bunch of stuff. I don’t think they mean to harm me like they have. Nobody would be that cruel, right?

Trudy: See how nice she is? Notice how I’m sitting here, right next to her, and she doesn’t even mention the prank I pulled on her that got her in major trouble at school?

Natalie, trying to get control of your life back from people you don’t even know sounds like a huge challenge. What have you learned about yourself or friend or family while trying to resolve your problem?

Natalie: Okay, fine, Miss Trudy. You want me to mention you, I will. During this entire debacle, Trudy here has been the only person to treat me exactly the same the entire time. She didn’t suddenly become my best friend just to get in front of the cameras. She didn’t believe the news reports about me selling or doing drugs – or whatever they were accusing me of. She continued to treat me the same as she always has. I really respect that about her.

Trudy: *shakes her head* See?

What would you say is your strongest personality trait?

Trudy: Ooo, can I answer this for her?

Natalie: No, Trudy. We’ve already heard what you think of my personality. Actually, Trudy isn’t alone in her un-appreciation for my sunny disposition. Most of the kids at school and many of the teachers have expressed their annoyance over the years. After the media hopped on board and started giving me a hard time I seriously considered changing. I even wore black to school one day. *shudders* But I’m hear to tell you, especially all you kids out there, that it is up to YOU who you are going to be in life. It isn’t up to Trudy or Bryson or Jed Tellum. It is for YOU to decide. If you like who you are, hold onto it tight and don’t let the world rock your confidence. Because we need each and every one of the YOUs out there.

Trudy: Wow, Nat, that was an entire inspiration speech! You’ve graduated from the sayings?

Share with our readers your three favorite movies.

Natalie: My Fair Lady, any of the High School Musicals and March of the Penguins

Trudy: Fat Kid Rules the World, The Dark Knight, any of the Fast and Furious’s

Natalie: Wait a minute…aren’t some of those Rated R!

Trudy: *rolls eyes*

Finally, what words of wisdom would you like to share with our readers?

Trudy: For words of wisdom, I defer to Natalie.

Natalie: Well, I already said how important it is to stay true to yourself, but another thing that is super important is to communicate. I almost lost my three lifelong friends because of a lack of communication. If we’d just kept the dialogue open, we’d never have had that problem. Some subjects are hard to talk about. But a good friendship can withstand any topic if it is delivered with love.

Thank you, Natalie and Trudy for joining us this week on Building Character. It has been fun getting to know you. Readers, be sure to pick up their story, Save the Lemmings.

When Natalie’s Texty-Talky invention makes her an overnight sensation, the media digs until they find a way to smear her goody-goody image. When her best friends start believing what they read, Natalie’s sunny spirit is pushed to its limits. How will Natalie stop the lies and win her friends back? And who will SAVE THE LEMMINGS?

About the author:

Kai Strand writes fiction for kids and teens. Her debut novel, The Weaver, was a finalist in the 2012 EPIC eBook Awards. She is a (very lucky) wife and the mother of four amazing kids. The most common sound in her household is laughter. The second most common is, "Do your dishes!" She and her family hike, geocache, and canoe in beautiful Central Oregon, where they call home.

To find out more about Kai’s books, download companion documents, find links to her published short stories and discover all the places to find Kai both virtually and in person, visit her website: www.kaistrand.com. She loves to hear from readers, so feel free to send her an email or visit her facebook page, Kai Strand, Author.  https://www.facebook.com/KaiStrandAuthor or follow her on Twitter: @KaiStrand.
If you have a character from a children’s, tween or young adult book that you’d like to see interviewed on Building Character, please contact kaistrand at yahoo dot com.

January 23, 2013

Three Times A Charm with Jill Williamson

Welcome to the 2013 version of Three Times A Charm. I love meeting new authors, illustrators, bloggers, agents, editors or promoters from the children’s publishing industry and sharing their careers with you. 

Today’s guest is a semi-local author who I discovered when I saw her booksigning event on a semi-local bookstore’s calendar. Jill Williamson, tell us about yourself, please.

I’m a chocolate loving, daydreaming, creator of kingdoms. I write weird books for teens, love Jesus, and am a recovering fashion design assistant, who was raised in Alaska. Visit me at www.jillwilliamson.com, where adventure comes to life.

Tell us about your latest book.

The New Recruit

Forced to choose between military school and a Christian spy organization, skeptic Spencer Garmond signs on with the Bible geeks. But before he even boards the plane for Moscow, Spencer realizes this is no Bible club. These guys mean business. Stumbling onto a case involving a gang of homeless boys, a chilling tattoo, and the beautiful Anya Vseveloda, Spencer struggles to find the faith needed to save the Mission League from enemy infiltration.

Sounds great! I love that you offer Christian teens an exciting read. There seems to be a misconception that people with faith don’t like adventure.

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.

First, my favorite new series of this past year has been Angel Eyes by Shannon Dittemore. It’s about a girl who meets a boy who had been raised by an angel. And the more she learns about these pair, the more she discovers about the spiritual realm. It’s fabulous.

Failstate by John Otte is another favorite of mine. This is about superhero Failstate, who is a contestant on the TV show America’s Next Superhero. When a contestant is murdered, Failstate sets out to solve the crime.

And The Orphan King by Sigmund Brouwer is apparently a retelling of an older series, but I’d never read it, so I didn’t know. I really enjoyed this story. It’s a medieval fantasy about a boy trying to embrace his destiny as the ruler of a castle.

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

Notebooks—I use notebooks to brainstorm new story ideas. When I’m hit with an idea I grab a blank notebook and jot everything down so that when I have time to work on that idea, I’ll have everything in one place. And then I can take my notebook everywhere and brainstorm.

MS Word—I don’t know how authors wrote before computers. Microsoft Word is an amazing tool. It not only allows me to type and format my stories, I can edit much faster knowing how to use all the features. Some of my favorites are Find and Replace, and the new sidebar in Word 2010 that allows me to format chapter titles so that I can click through my manuscript faster. And these days, edits come with Microsoft Word’s track changes, having replaced the old way of edits done in pen on a printed manuscript. So convenient.

Internet—I have come to rely on having instant answers to any need that may arise as I write. Wikipedia, Dictionary.com, Etymology Online, websites and blogs on history or any fact that I may need. I can find it all.

  • Top 3 pieces of advice for kids these days.

Respect your dream—We live in a get-it-now world, and many people have a I-can-succeed-now way of looking at their dreams. But one doesn’t tend to become an expert at anything overnight. Nothing beats putting in time studying and practicing whatever it is that you hope to succeed at. So if there is something out there that you want, put in the time to learn to do it well.

Respect your elders—For centuries elders have been honored. They’ve lived through things and can give advice. Mentors are some of the most beloved characters in the movies. But in these days, many people tend to ignore the elderly and brush off any advice from parents. Resist the urge. People have much to learn from each other. Ask questions of an elder you know and listen to what they have to say. You may be amazed. I don’t know about you, but I’d love having my own Obi Wan Kenobi.

Respect yourself—There’s a lot of stuff out there that can mess you up. I’ve met a lot of teens that embrace the nothing-can-hurt-me mentality. But if you saved up for five years to buy an expensive car, would you treat it badly? Probably not. You’d likely baby the thing. It would be “your precious.” I urge you to treat yourself with that same level of respect. You’re young for a few years, and you should have fun and enjoy life. But to risk your life carelessly without regard for the consequences… well, I did that. And, trust me. The rest of your life is a lot longer than those few years of youth. And it’s not so much fun to live with regret.

Very sound advice, Jill. Where can our tech-savvy readers go to keep up with you and your writing?

Thanks for charming us on this week’s Three Times A Charm, Jill. Best of luck with your writing!


GUESTS WANTED! 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.

January 18, 2013

Building Character with Sarah Shand from A Shadow in the Past

Welcome to my blog feature, Building Character in which you get to meet a character from a book. Talking to a character outside of their book is fun! Huge. Amounts. Of fun. 

This week Strands of Thought is host to Sarah Shand from A Shadow in the Past. Welcome, Sarah. Tell us a little about yourself and what your life is like.

Hi, I’m Sarah Shand. I’m nineteen and I live on a farm outside the village of Kendonald in Aberdeenshire Scotland, in the year 2010 with my mum and dad, fifteen year old sister, Rachel, and my ginger and white cat, Murphy. Oh wait, I don’t live there anymore. I’m currently living at Weetshill mansion back in the year 1886.

Oh my goodness! Time travel can be a sticky predicament.

Finding myself back in the year 1886 without the foggiest notion how I got there, I’d say is a pretty major conflict.

So…uh…now what?!

Finding my way back to my own time. Like I said, I have no clue what happened. I’ve had some strange experiences at the stone circle so I don’t know if that place caused me to be transported to the Victorian era or not. In the beginning I wanted to go ‘back to the future’ but the longer I stayed, the less important that became. Don’t get me wrong, I missed my mum and dad – even my sister, who gets away with far more than I did at her age, but I was away from my cheating so-called friends. I thought I’d never trust another bloke again after what Blair did to me, but I fell in love with the Laird of Weetshill.

Wow, how complicated can that be? Love? With a Laird? That’ll change your perspective. But your family must really miss you.

A major change like this always leaves a mark! What have you learned from this experience?

That I can be a right selfish cow by times. Yeah, I heard it a lot from my parents but it wasn’t until my transportation – and after being in the past for a while, that I realized that for the most part, I only ever thought of myself.

You mentioned ‘cheating so-called friends’. Can you talk about that?

My best friend ever since primary school was Niamh MacIssac until I went off to college in Glasgow. I caught her with my boyfriend, Blair. He’s now my ex, if you get my meaning and Niamh is no longer my best friend… the traitor.

I’m sorry to hear that, Sarah. Let’s change that subject. What is your strongest personality trait?

I’d say my stubbornness. I can be pretty pig-headed by times and will argue black was white just for the sake of arguing. When I make my mind up to do something, I don’t stop until I’ve done it. And I hold grudges, too.

What do you do for fun?

I’d say shopping, hanging out with friends and spending time at the stone circle on the hill at my parents’ farm but that was my old life. Now I love to read – something I was never overly fond of doing, go for long walks. I still spend time at the stone circle but things are so different there. My house hasn’t been built yet. Mobile phones, CDs and even the telly haven’t been invented. Weetshill mansion doesn’t even have electricity or running water!

Ew! No running water. That would be an adjustment. What are your favorite foods?

My father makes a wicked Chicken Tikka Masala. I can’t get enough of it but I like all Indian food except for the really hot stuff like Vindaloo. I discovered that I liked venison when I first had it at Weetshill. The other would be pizza with lots of cheese. I really miss the curries and if I ever get back to my own time, those will be the first things I want to eat.

I don’t know if you can answer this, giving your current predicament, but what do you want to be when you grow up?

I was studying hospitality management at college, with the plan of going on getting my bachelor’s degree at Caledonian University so I could manage a hotel. My parents run a bed and breakfast at the farm so I know how to run it. When I was smaller, we used to go on vacation in October to Ibiza and that’s when my dream started. I don’t really like living out here in the middle of nowhere and now that Blair and Niamh have done what they did to me, there’s really no reason for me to stay in Aberdeenshire.

But after fate stepped in and I found myself back in the year 1886, my goals changed. I rescued a wee girl from the lunatic asylum and I want to adopt her.

Well that is a dramatic change, I’d say. If you can change one thing in this world (present or past, I’m not picky) what would it be?

Fix men so they couldn’t cheat. I really thought Blair and I were going to get married since we’d been together so long. I knew the dress I wanted, the venue, everything was picked out, then he ruined everything.

What words of wisdom would you like to share with our readers?

Be careful what you wish for because you just might get it. I mean, I ended up being A Shadow in the Past.

Wise words, Sarah. Thanks for visiting with us today. We hope it turns out the way you want it in the end. Readers, to find out how it does turn out, find Sarah’s story, A Shadow in the Past at these lovely places:

Nineteen-year-old Sarah Shand finds herself thrust back into the past. There she struggles to keep her real identity from a society that finds her comments and ideas strange and her speech and actions forward, unlike Victorian women. When Sarah verbally confronts confining social practices, including arranged marriages, powerful enemies commit her to a lunatic asylum. After falling in love with the handsome Laird of Weetshill, Robert Robertson, she must decide whether to find her way back to her own time or to remain in the past with him.

About the author, Melanie Robertson-King:

Always a fan of the written word, Brockville born and raised, Melanie spent many of her formative years reading.

The writing bug first bit when she was about thirteen, but the itch subsided and it wasn’t until a number of years later that she put “pen to paper” and began writing again.

Prior to returning to fiction, Melanie wrote articles for various publications for a number of years and has been published in Canada, the US and the UK.

In addition to writing, her interests include genealogy, photography and travel – especially to Scotland, although Paris rates high on her “must return to” bucket list as well. On one of her trips to Scotland, she had the honor of meeting The Princess Royal, Princess Anne.

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

If you have a character from a children’s, tween or young adult book that you’d like to see interviewed on Building Character, please contact kaistrand at yahoo dot com.

January 17, 2013

Looking For Guests with Character!

ATTENTION past Three Times A Charm guests and authors looking for promotion!

I've added a new feature to my blog called, Building Character, and I'm looking for guests. On Fridays I post an interview with a character of a book. It is so much fun for readers to get to know a character outside their book! You can browse through the interviews here. If you've been a guest on my blog before, but now have something new (or just something else) to promote, please contact me about one of your characters participating in an upcoming Building Character interview. 

This is a standing invitation to all characters in children's books. From board books to young adult, we'd love to learn more about you. 

Please share this post and help me spread the word. Who couldn't use a little free publicity?

January 16, 2013

Three Times A Charm with Sands Hetherington

Welcome to the 2013 version of Three Times A Charm. I love meeting new authors, illustrators, bloggers, agents, editors or promoters from the children’s publishing industry and sharing their careers with you. Today’s guest is via World of Ink tours.

Author, Sands Hetherington, is visiting with us. Sands, tell us about yourself, please.

Hi, and thanks for having me.  I'm an old man who lives by a lake on the edge of town with two Saint Bernards: Dudley and Maggie.  My publicist intensely dislikes my calling myself old, but it’s the truth. I’ve been telling stories to small children for many years. I was born in New York City but have lived in Greensboro, North Carolina, most of my life.  I go to a gym on weekday afternoons and the grocery store on Saturdays. That’s kind of old-fashioned, but I did say I’m old.-J I’d be happy to provide a list of provisions for your visitors, upon request!
I travel a lot, up till now almost everywhere in North America and most of Europe over to the Levant.  I have degrees in history, English and creative writing, and quit high school about halfway through.  I have been a hod-carrier (my publicist thought I meant sod-carrier, but no.), newspaper laborer, professional student, short story writer, financial advisor, sportsman, land speculator and dog breeder.  I raised my son John as a single parent and could never have come up with the NIGHT BUDDIES series without his inventions when he was six or seven.

*Snort* You’re a funny man, Sands.

Tell us about your book.

The book is Night Buddies, Imposters, and One Far-Out Flying Machine.  It's the second in the NIGHT BUDDIES series featuring John Degraffenreidt, a young kid who isn't ready to go to bed yet, and Crosley, a wacky red crocodile who shows up just like in the first book to sneak John out on an adventure.  This time, though, after they get outside, Crosley doesn't know what to do.  He can't get in touch with his brother Crenwinkle to find out what the Program is for the night.  When they finally do find Crenwinkle, he tells them Crosley has been spotted all over the Borough committing theft, vandalism and malicious mischief.  Crosley is innocent, of course, and it's clear someone is impersonating him.  So the Program is to get the business stopped before Crosley is run out of town for being a jerk.  (Meaning no more Night Buddies!)
Our two friends decide on a stakeout, and this means going to a fantastic Emporium and getting a wonderful flying machine.  The deal is, Rodney Oglesby's sauerkraut and jellybean hot dog cart keeps getting attacked by the fake Crosley, and our friends determine to fly over it and watch.  Soon enough, a mysterious red crocodile sneaks up and snatches the cart and sails off down the sidewalk with it, causing general pandemonium.  Crosley and John chase from the air, but the impostor turns into the adjacent park and escapes.
What's going on?  Why Rodney Oglesby's sauerkraut and jellybean hot dog cart so often?  When John and Crosley finally figure this out, the contest begins.  It takes many twists and turns, and a night of magical flying around, and we meet lots of cool new characters who help along the way.  It's almost dawn when things get wrapped up.

Sands visited Strands of Thought while on tour for his first book. You can read that interview here.

Now for the threes. Help us know you a little better by answering your top three choices to the following questions:

  • Top 3 books you’ve read in the past year.
Semi Tough by Dan Jenkins (1972).  An outrageous, rollicking, wonderful novel about the NFL that I hadn't read and saw in a used bookstore.  I can't believe I let this one get by me for so long.
You Can't Go Home Again by Thomas Wolfe.  I read the others many years ago and realized I had neglected this one.
Team of Rivals by Doris Kearns Goodwin.  I'm a Civil War buff and this is one of the best books on the subject to come along in years.  It's about Lincoln and the four men in his cabinet who contested with him for the Republican nomination.

  • Top 3 tools of the trade you couldn’t live without.
Actually there are four: My old green clipboard, a supply of used letter-size paper with unused backs, my Cross ballpoint pen, and a place to sit and prop my feet up (these or near-substitutes).  In other words, there are scarcely ANY tools involved in this trade!
Or let me try another tack:
1.  I need to have read a lot.
2.  I need a writing schedule.
3.  And I need to stick to #2 no matter what.
These two lists are essentially all any writer needs.

  • Top 3 authors.
Mark Twain, Charles Dickens and Kurt Vonnegut.  There are many writers just as good as Twain and Dickens, and there are legions as good as Vonnegut.  I favor these three, though, for their clarity and readability.  Gertrude Stein is admirable, of course, but where's the fun?  With my three you get the whole package.

Sands, where can our readers go to keep up with you and your writing? 

Thanks for charming us on this week’s Three Times A Charm, Sands. It is always a pleasure to host a leg of your World of Ink tours. Best of luck with your writing!


OPEN CALL FOR GUESTS! 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.

January 11, 2013

Building Character with Meg Flannigan from Love All

Welcome to my blog feature, Building Character in which you get to meet a character from a book. Talking to a character outside of their book is fun! Huge. Amounts. Of fun. 

This week Strands of Thought is host to Meg Flannigan from Love All. Welcome, Meg. Tell us readers a little about yourself and what your life is like.

Hi! I’m Meg Flannigan. I’m 17, a senior, and a varsity tennis player. I’m also dating a really hot guy named Ash, who happens to be the quarterback of the football team and a total sweetheart. And my best friend is Grayson. She’s trying to make the varsity tennis team with me this year.

It’s great to meet you Meg, but I have to admit, your life sounds really normal for a senior in high school. Certainly you have some issues you’re working out. It’s okay, you can tell us.

            This isn’t easy to talk about at all, but here it goes. When I was a sophomore, my boyfriend cheated on me with a freshman. A freshman! I caught them making out in front of my locker. Since then, my confidence has been shot. Now, I have an amazing boyfriend, Ash, but… my crush of the past two years, Noah Turner, decides to finally notice me. I have two amazing guys to choose from, but believe me, it isn’t easy.

Yeah, that’s more like what I’d expect a girl your age to be dealing with. And it’s so hard! What have you learned while trying to resolve your conflict?

            No matter how hard you try, you can’t control your heart.

Tell us about Grayson. What makes her your best friend?

       Grayson tells it like it is, which I love. She really cares about her friends and will do anything to protect them. She’s short and curvy in all the right places. And she has the most gorgeous tan year-round, thanks to her bi-racial father. Yes, I’m a little jealous of how pretty she is. The only bad thing about Gray is that she thinks we should be together 24/7, which is tough considering I have a boyfriend.

We’d love to learn more about you. Is there anything about you that people are always giving you a hard time about? How do you feel about it?

            My mom says I can be “feisty” sometimes with the comments I make. I have to admit it’s gotten me in trouble at work a few times, but Larry is impossible to work for so you can’t really put all the blame on me. Anyway, I’m trying to work on keeping some comments to myself.

What are your three favorite leisure activities?

            Playing tennis, hanging out with Ash, and hanging out with Grayson.

Meg, it’s been great getting to know a little about you! Thanks for stopping in and we hope your story gets into the hands of gazillions of teens around the world.

About the book:

Seventeen-year-old Meg Flannigan wasn’t very lucky at love. In sophomore year, her idiotic boyfriend dumped her by making out with another girl in front of her locker. Ouch! Now a senior, and with a little more self-confidence, Meg catches the eye of not one, but two guys at school. Lucky! Both attend her tennis matches, vie for her attention, and are each gorgeous in their own way. So what’s the problem? Meg has already chosen one of them, and the one waiting in the sidelines will do anything to change her mind. She’s enjoys the attention right up until it’s her heart that’s caught in the middle, and she risks losing both. Can Meg Love All, or will choosing be her undoing?

Release date: January 22, 2013

Add to your Goodreads to-read list NOW so you don’t let it slip through the cracks: http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/16096146-love-all

About the author:

Kelly Hashway writes young adult and middle grade novels as well as picture books. She’s represented by Lauren Hammond of ADA Management. Some of her upcoming books include, Touch of Death, Love All, Serving Up Heartbreak, Perfect Match, Stalked by Death, Into the Fire, and The Monster Within. When she’s not writing, she works as a freelance editor, but her biggest job of all is Mom.

You can learn more about Kelly and all her books at:

Twitter: @kellyhashway

If you have a character from a children’s, tween or young adult book that you’d like to see interviewed on Building Character, please contact kaistrand at yahoo dot com.

January 2, 2013

Three Times A Charm with Janel Rodriguez Ferrer

Happy New Year Everybody! Welcome to the 2013 version of Three Times A Charm. I’m happy to say I’ve decided to continue my weekly feature – at least for now. I love meeting new authors, illustrators, bloggers, agents, editors or promoters from the children’s publishing industry and sharing their careers with you. As long as the guests keep coming, I’ll keep Charming. However, I’ll be out of town next week, but rest assured the feature will continue after that.
This week children’s author, Janel Rodriguez Ferrer, is visiting with us. Jane, tell us about yourself, please.

I am a Native New Yorker of Puerto Rican descent (AKA: a "Nuyorican") and the product of loving parents, a living, breathing city, and lots of cafe con leche.  

Like my main character, Gina Santiago, I was an art major at a High School of the Arts in Manhattan, but unlike Gina, I'm not much of a guitarist (but want to go back to taking lesson.).

For fun I like to read, listen to music, lounge on the couch, hang out with my twin, watch Doctor Who, and eat chocolate (I can do some of these at the same time, but not all of these at the same time).

I always wanted to go to an performing arts school. Heck, I still do!

Tell us about your book.

The Arts-Angels, Track 1: Drawn to You, is about Gina Santiago, a fourteen year-old "Nuyorican" with rock star dreams, who is accepted into the prestigious New York Academy of Arts and Talents but is completely bummed about it.

Why? Gina got in for art--not music, like she really wanted.  Plus, the school is on Manhattan's Upper East Side (in other words, filled with rich kids) and Gina doesn't think rice and beans mixes too well with caviar!

It's Gina's mother who's all excited.  She's an artist, too, and wants her daughter to follow in her footsteps, instead of those of her father, Michael, who also had rock star dreams but died before ever achieving them.  

But it's the footsteps of her guitar hero, Angel "Wings" Dominguez, that Gina really wants to walk in. And wearing a medal of St. Michael the Archangel in honor of both her father and her idol, Gina decides to chase after that dream--even if it means battling her mother, rival guitarists, mean teachers, and snobby frenemies do it.

Sounds great! Adding to my to-read list!

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

Top 3 super heroes and why they are your favorites.

Okay, so I don't think people need to have superpowers in order to be a superhero (cough, cough, *Batman* cough, cough).  Of these three, one has superpowers (or mutant ability, anyway) and the other two live extraordinary lives of unlikely adventure and uncommon luck...

1) Shadowcat AKA Kitty Pryde of the New Mutants, Uncanny X-Men and Excalibur comic books.

When I was teenager in the 80s, I read a lot of Marvel comics.  These were the years of the Chris Claremont story lines and the great artwork by Alan Davis, Bill Sienkiewicz and John Byrne. And while of course, like most little girls, I loved Wonder Woman (because of the television show from the 70s) and Superman (probably because of the movies in the 80s) the first superhero I really glommed on to from the comic book world (besides Wolverine) was Kitty Pryde. 

She's still top favorite comic book character.  I think I first liked her because she was a teenager like I was at the time I began reading about her, and I identified with her.  She also had big hair like I did!  Haha! Although, most superhero women do, truth be told.

She was tiny, though, and I was tall, and she was Jewish, and I'm Catholic.  But I identified with her nevertheless and loved that she was a teen (the first one, really) who ended up joining the X-Men--the group of superheroes to beat all other groups!  But I also loved the storylines in the New Mutants and Excalibur titles, with Excalibur eventually becoming my favorite comic, because they read like good YA fantasy  fiction and had great artwork! 

2) Yu Shu Lien (especially played by Michelle Yeoh in the movie), in Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon. 

Okay, I've only seen the movie, and have not read the comic books other books associated with her.  But I loved her in the movie.  She had it all together.  She was a businesswoman, a spiritual advisor, had perfect manners, and most of all, was an incredible warrior.  She had skillz, yo.  Michelle Yeoh did a great job bringing her to life.

And now my current favorite:

 3) Sarah Jane Smith of Doctor Who and the Sarah Jane Adventures as played by the lovely Elisabeth Sladen. 

I LOVE Sarah Jane Smith.  I want to be her when I "grow up"!  Sarah Jane always manages to be sweet, ladylike, fearless and independent all at the same time.  She is a news reporter in the Lois Lane-vein, but her REAL work is guarding the planet Earth from alien invasions with the help of neighborhood teenagers, her adopted mutant teen son, her robot dog, and a supercomputer (that is powered by alien entity). She has other snazzy gadgets, too, like a great watch that double-duties as a scanner for alien life and a sonic lipstick that it part lock pick, part zappy-weapon-thingie.  All this, and she always manages to look adorable, dress in cute outfits, drive a cool car, and live in a great house! 

Her character started off as a companion of the Doctor on the classic episodes of Doctor Who, and was spun off into her own series decades later when Doctor Who was revamped into what fans have dubbed "New Who". 

I'm terribly sorry that the actress who played her passed away last year and so no new adventures can be filmed.  But this is understandable as Elisabeth Sladen glowed with an inner light, and as she is the one companion to have worked with the most incarnations of the Doctor and the only one to get her own show (2x, actually) she is completely irreplaceable as an actress.  RIP, Lis!

Top 3 hit songs from when you were in the age range of your target audience.

1) Our Lips Are Sealed by the Go-Go's

Beauty and the Beat was the first album I ever bought myself.  I think I was ten years old!  It was just so exciting to see an all-girl band, playing their own instruments and writing their own songs.  Our Lips are Sealed was their first hit (see the video here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=r3kQlzOi27 ) and although We Got the Beat was just as popular or more so, and I like a lot of their other songs as well, this first song captures best for me what it was like when they burst upon the scene.  I think their having five members in their band (and in Duran Duran as well) is one of the reasons I have five members in the Arts-Angels (the band in my book series)!

2) Take On Me- a-ha

Here we have another band (albeit a small one, with only 3 members).  They are from Norway.  They happen to have an incredibly cute lead singer (not unlike Craig in the Arts-Angels) and how classic and irresistible is this video?: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=djV11Xbc914  There's art, adventure, romance and great storytelling.  Ahhhh.

3) The Queen and the Soldier -- Suzanne Vega

My big sister brought Suzanne Vega into the house and soon the whole family became fans. What a talent!  I didn't know until years later that she had graduated from the High School of Performing Arts and that she was Half-Puerto Rican.  She grew up in Manhattan and played guitar and wrote her own songs since she was young (shades of Gina Santiago, my main character). I haven't found a good video for this song, so I chose this one because it shows the lyrics of this beautiful, poetic, and ultimately *devastating*  song.  What teenage girl who heard this once didn't play it again and again afterwards?  Haunting.  And listen to that guitar work.  Gorgeous.  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-I_7M_JeSoc

Top 3 snacks to munch on while working.

I have celiac disease, so I must avoid products that contain gluten (wheat, barley, or malt) ingredients.  But my favorite snacks are what they've always been:

1) Chocolate chip cookies!  Since I only eat gluten-free ones now, I am partial to Pamela's brand products. 

2) Coffee con leche (y azucar).  I've had coffee since I was probably something like five years old! Coffee is in my blood.

3) Tea. Either peppermint (good with cookies) or twig tea (which is made from..well...twigs... as opposed to leaves) and is also good with cookies.

Janel, where can our readers go to keep up with you and your writing? 

For more information about The Arts-Angels series of books, please visit:

My blog can be found here: http://janelrodriguezferrer.wordpress.com/

The book is available on Amazon (in paperback and Kindle form) and Barnes and Noble (it will be in Nook form soon) and other booksellers online.

Thanks for charming us on this week’s Three Times A Charm, Janel. After all these years of seeing you all over the place online, it has been a pleasure to learn more about you and your work. I hope you’ll come back when the next book is out. Best of luck with your writing!


GUESTS WANTED! 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.