November 27, 2013

Three Times A Charm with Eric Price and a Giveaway

Welcome to 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 my readers.

Today’s guest is young adult author, Eric Price. Welcome to Strands of Thought! Can you tell us a little about you, please?

I grew up in central Illinois, but I now live in northwest Iowa with my wife and two sons. I began publishing in 2008 when I started writing a quarterly column for a local newspaper. My first short story, “Ghost Bed and Ghoul Breakfast,” a spooky children’s tale about a haunted bed and breakfast, came out later the same year. I’ve published more than 30 nonfiction articles/columns, four short stories, and a poem. Three of the short stories have won honorable mention in the CrossTIME Annual Science Fiction contest.

Congratulations on the release of your book, Eric, tell us about Unveiling the Wizards’ Shroud.

As the only son to King Kendrick, Owen despises the idea of being king one day. Magician may be the only career he’d like less. He has dreaded the days leading up to his fifteenth birthday, when his father will certainly declare Owen heir to the throne. But at the birthday celebration, his father falls ill. The only person in the kingdom that may be able to save him is a magician–the very same magician Owen holds responsible for the death of his mother.

Owen and his companions will have to travel the continent of Wittatun in search of the cure for King Kendrick. On the journey, they will battle strange beasts and harsh climates, befriend extraordinary magicians, and meet a dragon before returning to Innes Castle–where much has happened in the days since he departed.

I recommend my book to lovers of fantasy. It has enough twists and turns to satisfy a hardcore fan, and it’s short and fast paced to appeal to fantasy novices or even people at lower reading levels than young adult.

Readers, Eric wants to know your top 3 favorite fantasy novels?

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

  • Top 3 books you recommend reading and why you recommend them.

I intended to list three classic novels here, but I do that all the time, and I read Suzanne de Montigny’s post earlier this month, so I decided to plug some authors at my publisher:

Elixir Bound by Katie Carroll—the fast pace and interesting characters kept me glued to this book.

Julius Caesar Brown and the Green Gas Mystery by Ace Hansen—What young guy doesn’t find potty humor funny; now that I think about it, what person doesn’t find potty humor funny?

Kai, I intended to add Beware of the White here, but I figure most of your blog readers have probably read it, so I’m going to deviate from my publisher to a book I grabbed at the bookstore, and had to put everything else I was reading on hold so I could read it.

William Shakespeare’s Star Wars by Ian Doescher—I’m not even sure I understand how much I loved this book. I think it would appeal to either a fan of Shakespeare or Star Wars, as a fan of both, my copy will be tattered and dog-eared by the end of the year.

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

Spell check—I’m a horrible speller. I’m getting better, but I still need spell check a lot.

Dictionary—Sometimes spell check doesn’t work, or it can’t figure out what I’m trying to type. Plus, as a writer you learn some words don’t mean what you think they mean. (oh my gosh, this happens to me all the time!)

Thesaurus—Stephen King wrote in On Writing, you’ll never find the right word in the thesaurus (or something to this extent). The point he made was use the words you know, don’t look up new words just trying to make yourself sound smart. I agree with him 100%. I still need my thesaurus because sometimes the word I need just won’t come to me. I still avoid the words I don’t know—unless they’re really cool; how else is our vocabulary supposed to grow?

  • Top 3 super heroes and/or super villains – and why they are your favorites.

I could write on this topic for hours. I could write about my 3 favorite categories of super heroes and break that list into subcategories, but I’ll keep it simple… as best I can. I’ll even limit myself by sticking to Marvel, and further limit it by sticking to the X-Men. (It should be noted, my time with the X-Men was 1992 to 1996. I’m rather clueless as to what’s happened after that.)

Wolverine—He has attitude, an adamantium skeleton with retractable claws (when Magneto hasn’t ripped it out—I’ll get to him later), and a mutant healing factor that makes him nearly immortal.

Magneto—He’s a classic sympathetic villain. He grew up a Jew in the 1940s. His family was torn apart by people who hated those different than them. Now as an adult, he sees a similar hatred by homo sapiens toward homo superiors (mutants). His friend, Charles Xavier, leader of the X-Men, dreams of a world where homo sapiens can live in peace with homo superiors, but due to his experience in concentration camps, Magneto cannot share that dream. Plus, he can control magnetism, and he uses it to remove Wolverine’s metal skeleton (see above, see also X-Men #25 and Wolverine #75).

Apocalypse—He’s the baddest of the bad (King of Bad… if you will). The first mutant, born in Egypt around 3000 BC (BCE if you prefer) he eventually takes over the world around 3800 AD (or CE), and at various times throughout alternate timelines… so he’s nothing if not patient and persistent.
One of those alternate timelines is, in my opinion, the best storylines in comic book history: The Age of Apocalypse. Legion travels time to kill Magneto, but accidentally murders Charles Xavier in the 1960s. Xavier never forms the X-Men so Magneto forms them in Xavier’s vision. But when Apocalypse rises in the 1980s, Magneto’s team doesn’t defeat him as Xavier’s team did, so Apocalypse takes over the world. An amazing dystopian world is created where, amongst other cool things, Wolverine and Cyclops finally have it out, resulting in Wolverine losing a hand and Cyclops losing an eye.
As Apocalypse is a firm believer in survival of the fittest, it’s hard to classify him as evil per se, he just tries to wipe out those who are week and those who promote the survival of the week… OK, so he’s evil, but he will team up with the good guys if they are fighting someone even more evil than him (see X-Cutioner’s Song).

Lol. I love that you love comics. And thanks for the nod for Beware of the White. There are so many talented authors at MuseItUp, it makes me feel really good about having a book there.

Where can our tech savvy readers find you online, Eric?

You can find me on my website,; on Twitter, @AuthorEricPrice; Facebook, Author Eric Price and Unveiling the Wizards’ Shroud; and Goodreads, Eric Price. I’ve also started a group on Facebook called, Young Guys Read, Too. It’s open to authors of stories aimed at young men, as well as people interested in reading those stories. My goal is to increase reading interest in young men by helping them interact with the authors writing their books.

Thanks for charming us on this week’s Three Times A Charm. Best of luck to you and your brand new book.

Readers! Eric is a generous author. He’s got not one but two giveaways going. Check them out!


GUESTS WELCOME!  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.

November 20, 2013

Three Times A Charm with James Crofoot

Welcome to 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 my readers.

Today’s guest is my fellow MuseItUp author, James Crofoot. Welcome to Strands of Thought, James! Can you tell us a little about you, please?

Hello, my name is James J Crofoot and I love writing. Always have, and having people enjoy my stories is my bonus. For relaxation and to keep balanced, I practice Tia Chi, Chi Kung, other energy strengthening exercises. In addition, of course, those early morning walks where the muses inspire me.

Congratulations on the release of your book! Tell us more about it.

My first book, "The Journeys of a Different Necromancer", is really a collection of short stories, which follow a young mage on his travels. The main character, Thomas, starts out wanting to learn to read and write. In the process, he gets more than he bargained for. He desperately wants to get away from his very small village. He wants to see the capital of the kingdom and then the world from there. In his travelling, although he uses his knowledge for good, he begins to wonder if what he does should be done.

Okay James, now for the Threes. Share with us your top 3 answers to the following questions to help us know you a little better.

·        The top three books you recommend for readers.

1. The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien – This book opened my mind to high fantasy. I told me of a world beyond the mundane.

2. "A Mid-summer Night's Dream" by Shakespeare – This one because it tells a tale of the Lords of the wood, it tells of love and how even those lords of the wood laugh and love.

3. Fairy Tales! – Not the sanitized stories of today, but the older the better. Hans Christian Anderson, and The Brothers Grimm. Learn how stories were once passed from generation to generation.

·        Three pieces of advice for kids these days?

1. Stay in school. Learn all they have to teach.

2. See the world. Climb a mountain. Sail on a sea. Go not as someone on vacation, but as someone who may not return.

3. And most importantly – Live and love with all of your heart.

·        Three favorite phrases –

1. Rage against the dying of the light…
2. Seize the day
3. "To be or not to be…"

Readers, now it is your turn! James want to know your responses to these three questions:

  1. What do you dream of when you look to the horizon?
  2. Have you found a favorite quote?
  3. Why did you choose that quote? 
Where can our readers find you and your book online?

You can also find my book on Amazon and Barnes&Noble

Thank you for charming us on this week’s Three Times A Charm! Best of luck to you and your writing, James.

GUESTS WELCOME!  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

November 15, 2013

Building Character with Layla and Samson from The Prophecy

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 Layla and Samson from The Prophecy. It is especially exciting to be a part of their RELEASE DAY! *throws confetti* I love a good release day and I’m thrilled to be a part of this one.

Welcome to Strands of Thought, you guys. Tell us a little about yourselves and what life is like in your book.
Layla:  Hello!  I’m Layla Givens, and this is my adopted brother Samson Mantar. 

Samson:  Hi. 

Layla:  We’re from the kingdom of Vanguard, which means we are super strong.  Our countrymen and women have been at war for centuries with the neighboring kingdom of Etherea.

Samson:  Ethereals do all kinds of freaky mind control.  If you let ‘em, they’ll have you rocking in a corner, sucking your thumb, and twirling a sliver of your hair.  No lie.

Layla: <eye roll>

War and mind control, sounds like a fun place for a couple of teenagers! Or maybe you are more like superheroes at this point. Do you have a sidekick – ha ha - or best friend? 

Layla:  Samson, for sure.  From the moment his family found me on their doorstep, we’ve been inseparable.  We’re only a few days apart in age, so we’re like twins. 

Samson:  Are you serious?  You would be my sidekick, Layla, not the other way around.  I’m faster, stronger, and bigger.  That makes me the hero and you the sidekick.

Layla:  Think again. The hero, or heroine in this case, has to be smart and…

Samson:  Are you saying I’m not smart??

Layla: Don’t give me that look, Samson Mantar!  You didn’t even give me a chance to finish what I was saying.  I just meant you’re impulsive.  The heroine can’t be impulsive.  She has to save the sidekick’s hide when he is. 

Author Erin:  You know the question says sidekick OR best friend, right?


Samson:  I suppose I would accept the title “best friend.”

Layla:  I suppose I would too.

Author Erin:  Thank goodness…moving on…

Oh, hey Erin! Readers, let me introduce the author of The Prophecy, Erin Albert. Nice of you to drop in, Erin. Okay, Layla and Samson, back to you guys. Tell us, what exactly are you up against in your story?

Layla:  My whole life I’ve been hiding from the Ecclesiastics and the merciless Elder Werrick.

Samson:  She matches the Prophecy’s requirements and could be taken to the Ecclesiastical Compound for testing.  Some really sick stuff goes on over there.

Layla:  We don’t know that for sure.  Those are only rumors.

Samson:  She doesn’t take this situation seriously enough. 

Layla:  I’m not the Fulfillment, so it doesn’t matter.

Samson:  Elder Werrick could kill you simply because he thinks you might be the Fulfillment.

Layla:  I’m stronger than he is.

Samson:  Physically, sure, but I’ve heard he has darker powers available to him.

Layla:  You believe everything you hear.

Hmmm, Layla, Samson sounds pretty sincere. I’d take his warnings to heart. So, we’d love to get to know you two better. What would you say is your strongest personality trait?

Layla:  I’m fierce. 

Samson:  She’s strong…there’s a difference.

Layla:  I’m strong AND fierce.

Samson:   <rolls eyes>

Author Erin:  What about you, Samson?  What’s your strongest personality trait?

Samson:  I can’t pick just one:  dashing, funny, charming, strong…

Layla:  <groans>  This list will take all day with his overinflated ego.

Samson:  Hey! 

Layla:  He’s loyal.  That’s his strongest trait. 

Samson:  Yeah, yeah, I like that.  I’ll go with loyal. 

Aw, that’s nice, Layla. It was great to meet you guys. I wish you lots and lots of luck in your story. It sounds like you have a lot of skills, but that a little luck might not hurt. And thanks again, Erin for stopping in too! Enjoy your release day and your release month and your release year…it’s all so much FUN!

Readers, here is a little more on Layla and Samson’s story, The Prophecy:

Growing up on a small farm in the kingdom of Vanguard, seventeen-year-old Layla Givens lives a deceptively tranquil existence. But her carefully constructed life quickly falls apart when she’s abducted by a religious zealot who proclaims her The Fulfillment of an ancient peace prophecy and whisks her away to marry her greatest enemy.

Wilhelm, Prince of the Ethereals, is reluctant to meet his new bride. He's grown up believing Vanguards are evil, an enemy to fight and fear...not love. Can he set aside his prejudices and work alongside Layla to bring lasting peace after centuries of war?

Nash, a loner who has never fit in, carries a huge secret, one big enough to destroy both kingdoms. When he accidently meets Layla, he’s no longer content to live in the shadows, but he must resist his growing attraction—for her safety and for the longevity of the two kingdoms.

When Nash's secret is revealed, a firestorm sweeps through both realms, with Layla at the center. Now she must choose between duty and desire while the fate of two nations hangs in the balance.

And a little about the author of The Prophecy:

Erin Albert is an author and fitness trainer.  Since she picked up Morris the Moose Goes to School at age four, she has been infatuated with the written word.  She went on to work as a grammar and writing tutor in college and is still teased by her family and friends for being a member of the "Grammar Police."  In her free time, Erin enjoys acting, running, kickboxing, and, of course, reading and writing. 

Find me online:
Twitter:  @ErinAlbertBooks
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.

November 13, 2013

Three Times A Charm with Crystal Collier

Welcome to 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 my readers.

Today’s guest is children’s author, Crystal Collier. Welcome to Strands of Thought, Crystal! Can you tell us a little about you, please?

I am the author of MOONLESS, and a former composer/writer for Black Diamond Productions. I can be found practicing my brother-induced ninja skills while teaching children or madly typing about fantastic and impossible creatures. Having lived from coast to coast, I now call Florida home with my creative husband, three littles, and “friend” (a.k.a. the zombie locked in my closet). Secretly, I dream of world domination and a bottomless supply of cheese.
Congratulations on the release of your book, Moonless! Tell us more about it.

On the moonless night following her sixteenth birthday, Alexia’s nightmares become reality: a dead baron, red-eyed wraiths, and forbidden love with a man hunted by these creatures. After an attack close to home, Alexia realizes she cannot keep one foot in her old life and one in this new world. To protect her family she must either be sold into a loveless marriage, or escape with her beloved and risk becoming one of the Soulless. 

MOONLESS is Jane Eyre meets Supernatural.

I recommend my book to readers who like:

Pride and Prejudice
The Mortal Instruments or The Infernal Devices series

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

  • Top 3 leisure activities.
1.      Reading a book (especially to my littles). The library probably has a permanent bench devoted to us by now.
2.      Writing, especially when it’s dark out. There’s something so exciting about writing in the dark.
3.      Playing piano—but usually just something I’m making up as I go. Ah, it’s so liberating to compose music!

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

1. I always wanted to be a singer and a stage actress. Then I realized how strange theater people can become. Don’t get me wrong, I adore them and was one for a long time, but now I’m content with periodic vocal performances. 
2. An author or Ad Specialist. These days you have to be both, so lucky me!
3. A teacher. Here’s another dream fulfilled. We home school AND I serve in our church as the president of a children’s organization with over fifteen teachers and about eighty children (ages 1 to 12). I’m also overseeing our scouting program and girls activities (ages 8-12), but my favorite part is teaching or assisting in individual classes.

  • Top 3 personal mantras or inspirational phrases:
1.      All else fails, eat cheese and be happy.
2.      Dare to dream: life is what you make of it.
3.      If life hands you cucumbers, make pickles.

Readers, now it’s your turn! Share your top 3 responses to Crystal’s questions to you:

If you could have any super power, what would it be?
And what would be your first order of business?

Where can our readers find you and Moonless online?

Readers, don't miss your chance at Crystal's epic giveaway. 

a Rafflecopter giveaway

November 6, 2013

Three Times A Charm with Suzanne de Montigny

Welcome to 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 my readers.

Today’s guest is children’s author, Suzanne de Montigny. Welcome to Strands of Thought, Suzanne! Can you tell us a little about you, please?

I was raised in the beautiful Fraser Valley near Vancouver, Canada, surrounded by jagged mountains. I was piano girl and initially began a career in music, writing scores for television and countless industrial and corporate videos. Eventually, I drifted into education where I learned I could weave a good story that kept the kids asking for more. When I married at 39, and began a family, I decided to stay home. During this time, my father died and I was hit with a tremendous need to write. In the basement, I found an old unicorn story I had written in grade six, thus re-igniting my love for unicorns. The Shadow of the Unicorn: The Legacy is the first of a three-part series for tween-aged kids. I was very pleased when it won a gold in the 2013 Global E-Book Awards for Best Fiction/Alternate History.

Wow, sixth grade! That is a story a long time in the making. Congratulations on the award. Tell us about your most recent book, Suzanne.

A loud, hissing sound filled the air. The unicorns looked up, their eyes filled with horror.
Azaria, a unicorn colt, is intrigued when the young, clairvoyant dinosaur, Darius, foresees a terrifying change to their world. When a giant fireball smashes into the earth, the unicorns struggle to survive the hurricanes and starvation that follow. But nothing compares to the danger when the creatures-that-walk-on-two-legs settle in the valley, and their leader discovers the healing power in the unicorns’ horns. Greedy and ruthless, Ishmael will stop at nothing in his pursuit of wealth – even the complete extinction of the herd. Azaria must find a way to outsmart Ishmael before it’s too late.

I am also working on the second of the Shadow of the Unicorn series at present. No spoilers other than to let you know they find Darius-the-seer again.

Then, there’s my teen novel, A Town Bewitched nearly ready to go. Kira, a child prodigy in classical violin struggles to fit into the small town of Hope, Canada. When her father dies, a mysterious fiddler with no past appears at his funeral. Within days, the fiddler takes the people by storm with her mesmerizing Celtic music. When someone vandalizes the town, leaving dead and gutted birds as a calling card, only Kira knows who the perpetrator is.

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

·        top 3 recommended books for tweens and teens?

Tex the Witch Boy, by Stuart R. West is one of my favourites because the story is based on real bullying situations. Not to mention you simply can’t put it down because it’s so good. I think this is a must for every teen to read.

If I Could Be Like Jennifer Taylor, by Barbara Ehrentreu is a must-read for teen girls because it deals with the pressures the so-called popular girls go through and how it’s not all peaches and cream. Mostly, it shows teens the horror of bulimia.

In A Pickle, by Beth Overmyer is a wonderful story of a boy who keeps traveling back to the same time where he meets a homeless man. The tale really opens wide the eyes of anyone who hasn’t thought of how homeless people got to where they are – on the street. My son loved this book, and so did I.

·        3 professions you thought you’d like to do as a child.

In 1964, I thought I’d like to be a farmer’s wife. After all, I loved animals and thought it’d be fun to have cows and pigs and horses.

In 1968, I dreamed of being the first astronaut to land on the moon. My dream was dashed the following year when Neil Armstrong and Buz Aldrin took the first giant steps for humankind.

In my teens, I wanted to be a composer and professional pianist. I did it for several years, but it didn’t pay the bills very well, so I drifted into teaching music in the public school system where I was quite happy for 20 years.

·        3 people you admire the most in the world?

Well now, don’t laugh. Queen Elizabeth II simply because she can stand up and do the right thing through a lot of controversy. The dame has class!

Mother Teresa. I know she’s passed away, but if you’ve ever seen the poverty in India (they have 31,000,000 orphans) and the work she did…it fills my eyes with tears.

My own dad, Dr. Pol de Montigny. He died seven years ago, but when he was alive, he inspired so many people to make something of themselves. He really cared about people and that’s how I want to be.

Where can our readers contact you?

You can purchase a copy of my ebook, The Shadow of the Unicorn: The Legacy At:

It’s also available on iBooks, Barnes and Noble, and Smashwords.

Thank you for charming us on this week’s Three Times A Charm! Best of luck to you and your writing, Suzanne.

GUESTS WELCOME!  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