November 30, 2014

#CyberMonday Book Deals from Kai Strand

If you'll be participating in Cyber Monday, I wanted to let you know about a couple deals I'm offering on my print books. First, have you visited my MARKETPLACE? I recently set up a storefront through Square, which allows me to offer signed copies of my books.

In order to celebrate the recent release of THE LUMPY DUCKLING, I'm offering 10% off your order when you get a complete set of the Weaver Tale series. These books are written for 9 - 12 year old readers. They are individual stories, all set in the same fictional village of word weavers (storytellers). The softcover are $9.95 each and the hardcover are only $15.95 (already discounted from the Amazon price). But the 10% discount applies to the complete order, so load up on all my books or several copies of a favorite story to share with the kids, teachers, librarians in your life. As long as you have one complete set of the Weaver Tales series on your order, you qualify to use discount code #WTSDISCOUNT upon checkout.

Speaking of series, I have a young adult series about super villains and super heroes. This is a great time to give the first two books in the series, because the third and final book in the series will be released early 2015. Print copies of KING OF BAD and POLAR OPPOSITES are $14.95 each.

Last, but not least, I have a contemporary book for the older middle grader - 10 to 14 year old-ish. This story is about a young inventor whose invention makes her an overnight sensation and the darling of the media. That is, until they turn on her and start to print lies. Can Natalie keep her sunny disposition and gain control of what they print about her? Print copies of SAVE THE LEMMINGS can be ordered for only $8.99 ea.

As a special Cyber Monday only deal, I'm offering free shipping - a $5.00 value. If you want to take advantage of this deal - use code CYBERSHIPPING upon check out. (Discounts cannot be combined) But it is only good through Cyber Monday!

Quantities are limited, so don't delay in placing your order. Visit my MARKETPLACE now.

If you read electronic books, or like to give them as gifts, all of my books are available in electronic format. As a matter of fact, I have three additional titles that are only available in electronic format. Visit my WEBSITE to browse my complete lineup of middle grade and young adult titles.

November 28, 2014

Building Character with Maggie Mae from Detective Extraordinaire The Case of the Missing Cookies

It’s Friday! Time for my blog feature, Building Character in which you get to meet characters from a book. Talking to a character outside of their book is fun! Huge. Amounts. Of fun. 

This week Strands of Thought plays host to Maggie Mae from Detective Extraordinaire The Case of the Missing Cookies. Hey Maggie!Thanks for joining us. We’d love to hear more about you.

Hi everybody! This is my first interview ever. I’m Maggie Mae. I’m 6 years old and have one older brother who is always sneaky. I love, love, love solving mysteries with all my detective stuff, like my notebook, pencils and magnifying glass! Oh, and I even have a detective’s badge that I got at a fall fair at my school.

Solving mysteries sounds very exciting. In your new Detective Extraordinaire story – The Case o f the Missing Cookies, what conflict are you up against? 

I asked my grandma what conflict meant and she said it meant a problem. Well, we have a big problem. Grandma was baking cookies, her super-duper Snickerdoodles, for a bake sale, and someone stole them. Someone in Grandma’s house stole the cookies right off the table while they were cooling.

Uh oh! That’s sneaky. What are some of the biggest stumbling blocks you’ve encountered trying to resolve this mystery? 

Everyone has an alibi, but some of the alibis in my family are weak! I know what an alibi is because I like to read stories about other detectives. If you don’t know what it is, I’ll tell you. It is a reason why someone can’t be the thief, like they were busy or not home when the cookies were stolen.

What’s your strongest personality trait? 

I am determined. I will find the cookie thief. I won’t give up until I do.

Let’s go into some more personal questions. What are your three favorite foods? 

This is an easy question. My first is Grandma’s super-duper Snickerdoodles. My second is my mom’s homemade pizza with little chopped up pepperonis on top. My third is apples, but only red ones. I do not like green.

What do you want to be when you grow up?

My mom says to always be polite even when questions are so easy to answer. So, I will say what I’m sure everyone here already knows. I want to be a DETECTIVE!

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

I can share my dad’s words of wisdom since I don’t really have any yet. My dad always says, “Work hard. Play hard.” He means that you should always try your best, no matter what you are doing. He also wants us to finish our work first.

Great advice, Maggie. Thanks for visiting with us. Readers, you can read on for more information on Maggie Mae’s story, Detective Extraordinaire The Case of the Missing Cookies.

Maggie Mae, detective extraordinaire, is on the case of who stole her grandma’s super-duper snickerdoodles. With her detective’s badge and notebook, she finds clues, interviews suspects, and sets a trap. Who did it--Grandpa, her brother Ben, or Toby the dog? Finally, she reveals the culprits and saves the cookies.

Autographed from Margo:

And read about Maggie’s author here:

Margo L. Dill is the author of Maggie Mae, Detective Extraordinaire: The Case of the Missing Cookies (pic book), Finding My Place: One Girl’s Strength at Vicksburg (middle-grade), and Caught Between Two Curses (young adult). She is also a speaker, writing teacher and freelance editor, working for St. Charles School District, WOW! Women On Writing, High Hill Press and educational testing companies. She lives in St. Louis with her family. To find out more, please visit:

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


If you have a character from a children’s through young adult book that you’d like to see interviewed, drop me an email (kaistrand (at) yahoo (dot) com)

November 26, 2014

Three Times A Charm with Ruth Silver

Today on Three Times A Charm we welcome, Ruth Silver. I love introducing my readers to the people who work in children’s publishing.

Thanks for joining us, Ruth. Would you please tell us a little about your awesome self?

I’m the author of the best-selling YA Dystopian trilogy, Aberrant. I’m passionate about writing and I love story-telling. I’ve been actively writing two series: Royal Reaper and Orenda. My interests also include traveling, reading, and photography. My favorite vacation destination is Australia. I currently reside in Plainfield, Illinois. You can find me on Twitter, Facebook, and my book blog Write Away Bliss.

Please tell our readers about your work.

I love YA novels. My favorite genres are paranormal, dystopian, and fantasy. I’ve written three series one falling in each of the above categories. For lovers of paranormal, my Royal Reaper series follows the life of Princess Ophelia as she’s murdered and gets the opportunity to become a grim reaper. It’s dark meets light in a tale that’s appropriate for ages fourteen and up. For lovers of science and fantasy, Orenda is about a girl, Lil Porter, that travels to a parallel universe and discovers a world unlike her own filled with magic, fairies, and dragons. Orenda is packed with adventure and a demon sorceress that must be fought to save both worlds. Written for young adults, Orenda is appropriate for readers as young as twelve. If you love the dystopian genre, the Aberrant trilogy takes place in the futuristic society of Cabal, where women can no longer naturally conceive. Eighteen year old Olivia Parker gets married and discovers on her wedding day she was born naturally, which makes her a threat to the perfect system of government. An action-packed dystopian thriller that has reached #1 on Amazon in Science Fiction Romance.

I recommend my book to readers who like: The Hunger Games, Divergent, and The Mortal Instruments

Now it is time for the three’s. Give us your top three answers to the following questions so we might get to know you better.

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

-The Fault in Our Stars by John Green
Yes you’ll need a box of tissues and you might figure you know what the story is about before reading it (kids with cancer) but it’s a story greater than kids dying. The writing is poetic and the emotion will draw you in and tangle you into its web. Highly recommend.

-The Selection Series by Kiera Cass
Why you should read it? The Bachelor meets Dystopian Fiction. I never watch The Bachelor but when it’s in fiction, there’s something about it that I love. (Years ago I read a fan fiction novel with the same premise). If you love romance, a love triangle, and want a fun easy read, give this one a try.

-The Soul Thief by Majanka Verstraete
Reapers, Angels of Death, and a teenage girl. Isn’t that enough reason to grab this title? Once I started it, I couldn’t put it down.

  • Top 3 leisure activities.

Blogging, Reading, and Photography. My favorite books are YA novels. I love capturing photos of people. I used to be a wedding and portrait photographer.

  • Top 3 favorite places.

Australia, Hawaii, and Cozumel. I love vacationing and would love to travel to Europe next.

And finally, where can our tech savvy readers find more about you and your work?

Thanks for joining us on this week’s Three Times A Charm, Ruth! Best of luck to you and your books.


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 21, 2014

Building Character with Queen Boudicca from Boudicca; Britain's Queen of the Iceni

It’s Friday! Time for my blog feature, Building Character in which you get to meet characters from a book. Talking to a character outside of their book is fun! Huge. Amounts. Of fun. 

This week Strands of Thought plays host to Queen Boudicca from Boudicca; Britain’s Queen of the Iceni. Thank you for joining us, Your Highness. We’d love to hear more about you.

I am Boudicca, Queen of the Iceni tribe in what the Romans call Britannia.  Descended of queens and kings among the Aedui in Gaul, I spent my early life as a slave following Roman conquest of my people generations before.  When I was nineteen years old, I escaped my abusive Roman mistress, a sister to Roman Governor Gaius Suetonius Paullinus.  Crossing the channel from Calais to Dover, I made my way north to Camulodunum where I met King Prasutagus of the Iceni.  Two months later, we were married, making me queen of the Iceni.  It was a happy marriage cut short Roman violence against our people, setting in motion the events for which history best remembers me.

We learned a little about you and your author on this previous interview. But let’s dig a little deeper. What exactly are you up against in your story?

The Romans are determined to conquer Britannia and enslave all its free peoples just as Julius Caesar conquered Gaul.  As queen of the Iceni and a former slave to the Romans, I am determined to prevent Britannia from suffering the same fate as my Aedui tribe in Gaul near the Seine.

Very admirable. What are some of the biggest stumbling blocks you’ve encountered trying to resolve your conflict?

The Romans are a formidable enemy.  No one has ever beat the legions past a battle or two.  Their battle tactics and savage brutality are second-to-none in the western world.

What have you learned about yourself while trying to resolve your conflict?

I am truly lost now that the Romans have killed my beloved husband.  I do not know how to live without him.

My most sincere condolences, Queen Boudicca. Can you tell us about him?

My husband is King Prasutagus of the Iceni.  True to Celtic values in freedom and equality among all people, Prasutagus and I are close to the same age and live together as true equals both politically and in the management of our marriage.  Our two daughters are strong, wise, and highly educated.  We are truly in love and respect each other very much, even though we greatly disagree on the best course of action with regards to Romans.  Prasutagus trusts them much more than I do, in part out of desperation.  Having experienced Roman brutality first hand, I despise the Romans and everything they stand for, especially their complete disregard towards and hatred of women.

What is your strongest personality trait?

I am very religious -- as are most Iceni.  Though the druid strongholds are mostly in western Wales and on Ynys Mon (which the Romans call “Mona”)  in particular, the druids have a powerful presence among we Iceni.  Should Ynys Mon fall, our lands are the agreed upon haven for all druid law-givers, clergy, and teachers.

If you could change one thing in this world, what would you change?

I would restore Celtic culture, freedom, and religion to all the western world -- as it was before the Romans came.  We believe in freedom and equality for all people, regardless of sex, social standing, profession, and so forth.  We are all one.  We need each other.  I fear that as the Romans continue their conquests these values are being lost.  Woe to the world the day that we cease treasuring each other and start seeing some people as better than other people.

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

All people are equals.  All life is precious.  Love one another as true equals.  Believe in the power of that love for one another and the world shall change.  Though it take two thousand years, we need not just accept Roman tyranny and slavery.  We can be free again.  We can learn to love again.  There is no evil that cannot be undone if we believe again for we are all one in freedom and love.

Sage advice indeed. Thank you for visiting with us, Queen Boudicca. Readers: you can learn more about the Queen’s story here:

Why is The Morrígan's raven crying? Only Britons with hearts for true liberty know!

In 43 CE Roman conquest of Britannia seems all but certain -- until a chance meeting between King Prasutagus of the Iceni and a runaway slave of royal decent from the Aedui tribe in Gaul changes the fate of the British islands forever.

Rise up for liberty with the true story of Boudicca: Britain's Queen of the Iceni and discover one of the most inspiring stories in history!

Based on the accounts of Roman historian Tacitus and supplemented with archaeology presented by the BBC. Told through the eyes of a 5th century mother and daughter facing the Saxon invasions.

Audio edition narrated by Richard Mann.

Boudicca:  Britain's Queen of the Iceni
available in audio, digital, and QR paperback editions
USA Audible:   
UK Audible:
Barnes and Noble:
iTunes:   iBookstore:

And read about her author here:

Born, raised, and educated in Lincoln, Nebraska USA, author-historian Laurel A. Rockefeller educates while she entertains, encouraging readers to think about current events and history in a completely new way. Using exhaustive and comprehensive research across dozens of academic disciplines, Laurel's stories come alive so vividly it is easy to forget you are learning something new.
Can it be any wonder that secondary school teacher Lorraine Carey calls Laurel's "Legendary Women of World History Series, "...a gold mine for educators that want an all inclusive history unit?" Debb LaVoie agrees, "Laurel A. Rockefeller weaves a wonderful story." Rabid Reader Reviews adds, "I really enjoy Laurel Rockefeller's work and believe that she'll be responsible for introducing many young women to historical figures they will admire."
As a low vision author who lost most of her sight to a traumatic brain injury while in secondary school, Laurel is passionate about high quality audio books. London-born British actor and voice actor Richard Mann narrates Laurel's audio book editions with superb performances complimentary to and enhancing Laurel's powerful and vibrant creative non-fiction storytelling. Hear Mr. Mann in action on Audible at
Students, educators, and parents: check out Laurel's "suggested reading" bibliography list at the end of the kindle edition of each Legendary Women of World History Series book. You will also find useful study guides and/or timelines after the reading list designed to enhance your learning experience.
Talk to Laurel and join the conversation on twitter at, follow Laurel on pinterest at, then check out Laurel's blog at

If you have a character from a children’s, middle grade or young adult book you’d like to see featured on Building Character, contact Kai via email: kaistrand at yahoo dot com.

November 19, 2014

Three Times A Charm with Tracy Clark

Today on Three Times A Charm we welcome author, Tracy Clark. I love introducing my readers to the people who work in children’s publishing.

Tracy and I connected after she noticed I live in the same town as her best friend. Small world, huh? Glad you could join us, Tracy. Can you tell us a little about yourself, please?

I am allergic to bios. Just kidding. I’m actually allergic to some vinegars but that’s probably not what you’re interested in. I live in northern Nevada with my two teenage kids and on teenage cat. I love to read YA and I LOVE to write YA. I’m a private pilot who used to skydive but never at the same time. I also volunteer as RA for the Nevada chapter of the SCBWI.

When I was young and my big sister and I had dishwashing duty, we’d wash a spoon first so we could take nips out of the vinegar decanter while we worked. I absolutely love vinegar. I’m very sad for you right now. Even if you’re like, “No really, it’s okay.”

You write young adult. Tell us about your books.

My debut novel, SCINTILLATE, is the first book in The Light Key Trilogy. Kirkus Review called it “…a powerful, heart-wrenching adventure.” It’s a paranormal romance but I like to think of it also as a metaphysical mystery dealing with auras and the energy between people. DEVIATE, book 2, releases 3/3/15.

Be on the lookout for an INSANELY COOL promotion for The Light Key Trilogy: #DV8TLC starting 11/22! The prizes are incredible! And for you folks who love to write fanfic, you are going to flip over the Grand Prize!

I recommend my book to readers who like:
LET THE SKY FALL – Shannon Messenger
THE LUX SERIES – Jennifer Armentrout

DV8 ß I see what you did there. Clever! Okay, now it’s time for the threes. Please share with us your top 3 responses to the following:

  • Top 3 pieces of advice for kids these days.

1.      Be kind. To yourself, to others. Being kind can be a very brave act. The world needs your kindness and it starts with you.
2.      One of the most important things you will ever do is find what truly fuels you—your passion. Try things, search, be open, and when you find the thing that “sparks” you, don’t let anyone tell you that you can’t do it.
3.      Listening to yourself above the voices of others is one of the hardest things to do. DO IT. There’s an inner voice inside that knows the right answers for YOU, that knows YOUR truth. If you truly listen to it, it won’t steer you wrong.

  • Top 3 personal mantras or inspirational phrases.

1.      Feel the fear and do it anyway.
2.      Sometimes, you’ve got to be yourself and you’ve got to be okay with no one else understanding.
3.      “If you are always trying to be normal, you will never know how amazing YOU can be.” Maya Angelou

  • Top 3 favorite personality traits that appeal to you.
1.      Humor
2.      Passion for life – Joie de vivre
3.      Open-mindedness

Really great responses, Tracy, and can I just shake your hand for being the first to answer the personality trait question. I love that question and your answers are awesome!

Where can our tech savvy readers find out more about you, your books and this awesome giveaway?

Twitter: @TracyClark_TLC

Thanks for joining us on this week’s Three Times A Charm, Tracy! Best of luck to you and your books.


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 14, 2014

Building Character with Leah from An Absence of Light

It’s Friday! Time for my blog feature, Building Character in which you get to meet characters from a book. Talking to a character outside of their book is fun! Huge. Amounts. Of fun. 

This week Strands of Thought plays host to Leah from An Absence of Light. Leah, I just started reading your story yesterday and I’m already pulled in. So, if you don’t mind, I’d love to speed through this interview so I can get back to it. Why don’t you start by telling our readers a little about yourself.

Hi, my name is Leah. Thanks for having me. It freaks me out a little to talk about myself in public—I’m pretty sure most anyone would think I’ve lost it if they knew what I do. I guess I wonder that, too, sometimes. But, someone’s got to fight the Shadows, right? And that sounds a little better than alien invasion preventer, I think.

Oh – aliens? Is that the conflict you’re up against?

Most everyone I’ve ever told about the Shadows hasn’t believed me, but I’d love to see them gone. All of them. I don’t know how they do it, but they seem to breed evil and hatred in people. Somehow I got stuck being able to see them, and it’s not something I can turn off. Getting rid of them is goal #1.

Are you fighting this battle with a best friend or a side kick? Anyone?

I am lucky to have stumbled across several people who can also see the Shadows. And while I haven’t known them long, they are definitely some of my closest friends. I guess fighting for your life next to someone creates some kind of bond. But there’s Manuel, his mom, Sarah (but we all just call her Nana), and of course Adam. Adam’s usually pretty bent on making sure I don’t get him killed—someone I’d like to avoid too—but underneath, I’m pretty sure there’s a nice guy in there. I hope.

I was kinda wondering about Adam. He seems—how do I say it—worth being patient with. Let’s lighten the mood a little. What are your three favorite foods?

I’ve pretty much become addicted to Nana’s food. I’ve always loved Mexican food, growing up in LA and all, but Nana’s food is the best. I adore her tortillas, quesadiallas, and tamales. But, a shake from In-and-Out is also pretty amazing. I kinda like to eat J.

I miss In-and-Out so much! What do you want to be when you grow up?

When I started at Standford when I was 16, I thought I’d go into biology or chemistry. Something scientific that involved working in a lab. But now? Everything in my life’s been turned upside down and I honestly don’t know what I’ll end up doing. Maybe someday I’ll get to go back to school. If the Shadows don’t chase me out again.

Thanks so much for visiting with us this week, Leah! Best of luck to you and your new friends as you battle the Shadows. I can’t wait to find out how it turns out. Readers, here is more info about Leah’s story, An Absence of Light:

Leah’s always seen the shadow creatures. She thought she was immune to their evil—until now.

She’s walked into a massacre, stolen a BMW, and is running from the law for a crime she didn’t commit. Nineteen-year-old Leah’s life just went from mildly abnormal to totally crazy at lightning speed. But no one will believe that the shadow creatures are framing her for the murder, because she’s the only one that can see them. At least that’s what she thought.

When Leah stumbled across a group who share her ability, she discovers they have something she doesn’t: a way to fight back. When the group offers to teach her how to kill the shadow creatures, Leah jumps at the chance. But something is brewing with the creatures. They’re tracking down the hunters like there’s no tomorrow. Leah suspects that maybe there won’t be, and it’s up to her to make sure tomorrow comes. Because she’ll do anything to stop the shadows, including risking her life—and the life of the one she loves—to keep the world from being lost to darkness forever.

Buy your own copy from Amazon, Barnes and Noble, or direct from Evernight Teen.

Now find out a little about Leah’s author:

Meradeth Houston's never been a big fan of talking about herself, but if you really want to know, here are some random tidbits about her:
>She's a Northern California girl. This generally means she talks too fast and use "like" a lot.
>When she's not writing, she's sequencing dead people's DNA. For fun!
>She's been writing since she was 11 years old. It's her hobby, her passion, and she's so happy to get to share her work!
>If she could have a super-power, it would totally be flying. Which is a little strange, because she's terrified of heights.

Find Meradeth Houston online at:
Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Tumblr, Amazon, and of course her blog!

If you have a character from a children’s, mid-grade or young adult book that you’d like to be interviewed, please contact Kai Strand via email (kaistrand at yahoo dot com)

November 12, 2014

Level Up! Creating Character Arc

Three Times A Charm is on hiatus, because I haven't been recruiting. Feel free to contact me if you're an author, illustrator, editor, blogger, publicist, publisher involved in children's publishing and would like to be interviewed.

So instead, I'm talking about the craft of writing. Creating a character arc is difficult, but crucial to the enjoyability factor of your story. Creating an arc over a series is even more challenging. In order for your readers to care, your character has to change and grow during their story.

A friend of mine posted a picture of a scene from my book, Polar Opposites, on my Facebook page and the status called the characters in the scene, “Assholes!”

Awesome! I squealed and clapped.

Why am I okay with this? It’s the emotion behind the post that thrills me. Yes, literary characters can be jerks, too. And, as is the case in the scene my friend highlighted, it is often intentional. So many things have to come together to shape the story line and grow characters. That particular scene explains a character’s motivation, or confirms what some readers suspected up to that point. It also incites a key incident in the development of the main character, Jeff, who is a by-stander in that scene.

Oh, I know I’m being all cryptic. I don’t mean to tick you off, but the incident is crucial to the end of the series, so I can’t give specifics for fear I’ll blow it. But that’s part of my SQUEE moment. By demonstrating her reaction to that scene, my friend confirmed that the emotion it stirred in her makes it a memorable moment, it binds her more strongly to Jeff, who is impacted the most by it. And hopefully buys him more loyalty from readers. He’ll need it as he goes through his next tumultuous journey.

What I find interesting is that we experience these moments IRL, too. But they aren’t as recognizable because they’re mashed up inside days filled with equal parts monotony and chaos. The path to them and from them isn’t clearly defined like it is in a literary character’s life. Think how much easier life would be if we could see our path as easily as Harry Potter saw his!

What are some of your favorite ‘turning point’ moments in a favorite character’s journey? Or what are some of the most memorable inciting events that took your favorite characters to the next level? I’d love to hear them.

November 11, 2014

Oh Nuts! I Lost My Sister by Dennis Marcoux

Today, World of Ink Book Tours brings us Adventures of Nutty and Twittles – Oh Nuts I Lost My Sister by Dennis Marcoux.

Book blurb:  Nutty and his sister Twittles set out to play a fun game of hide "n" seek with their friends. When Twittles is the only one missing, the game quickly changes.  Nutty has to find his sister because she may be lost in the dark and dangerous Forrest.

Kai: Thanks for visiting, Dennis. What age range is Oh Nuts targeted for? 

Dennis:  4-7

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?

Dennis:  I was about 6 yrs old and went to the ocean with my family.  My parents warned
      me about going into the water without them.  I did not listen to them and went
      into the ocean alone. A wave pulled me under the water and when I surfaced I was
      unable to swim.  Fortunately, my parents saw what happened and were able to save
      me.  Lesson Learned
Kai: Oh, how scary! So glad that had a happy ending. Dennis, how do feel life changed for children today from when you were that age?

Dennis:   Technology has changed the way children live and learn. 
Kai: How is life still the same?

Dennis:  Children are still curious and adventurous.

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

Dennis:  Sledding especially in the early evening when the sun was setting.  I still have my 1952 Flexible Flyer sled.

Kai: Awesome! Can you tell us what inspired Oh Nuts and how did you decide on this age range for your story?

Dennis:   I was inspired by my Granddaughter Molly's imagination. We
       often walked in the woods and the animals there fascinated her...namely the
       squirrels. Deciding on this age range was easy.  As a grandfather of (9)
       grandchildren, I always had fun reading and playing imaginary games when they
       were in this age group.           

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 Adventures of Nutty and Twittles – Oh Nuts I Lost My Sister?

Dennis:  Stuffed squirrels named Nutty and Twittles, Be my buddy badges, puzzle of a forest, paper and colored pencils and animal stickers.

Author bio:  Originally from Worcester, Mass., Dennis Marcoux worked in the manufacturing business for most of his life. Now he is retired and resides in Cape Coral, Florida. In his spare time, you can find him reading books as a volunteer in elementary schools and children's hospitals. He is a member of the Gulf Coast Writers Association of Fort Myers, Florida.

Kai: Dennis where can our readers find more information about you and your book?

Dennis:  Halo Publishing .com, Barnes and, and Author's Face Book Page

Thank you for joining us today! Best of luck to you and Adventures of Nutty and Twittles – Oh Nuts I Lost My Sister

November 7, 2014

Building Character with Claramina Dart from True Haven

It’s Friday! Time for my blog feature, Building Character in which you get to meet characters from a book. Talking to a character outside of their book is fun! Huge. Amounts. Of fun. 

This week Strands of Thought plays host to Claramina Dart from True Haven. Thank you for joining us, Claramina. We’d love to hear more about you.

Let me introduce myself. My name is Miss Claramina Dart. I am now 14 and after my parents died, I managed to find a position as a tailor’s apprentice for Mr Thrums in my hometown of Mudwells. I know what you’re thinking, but it wasn’t that bad – at least to start with. It used to be rather grand in the old days, when people came to the spa to take the waters. Now it’s all crumbling rather, and it’s ever such a trial delivering garments to our customers by wheelbarrow. No sedan chairs for the likes of us! Life would have been bearable, if only our new assistant, little Barley Spindle, hadn’t got himself arrested by the evil Flugelcrampers who patrol the streets ...

Aw, a shame! What is the main conflict are you up against now?

Well, I tried to save Barley, but ended up getting arrested myself. Imagine my surprise when I woke up after a long voyage and found I was in True Haven, a faraway colony. And if that wasn’t enough, they’d put me in a fearful workhouse with a dozen other orphans. Luckily, Barley was at the same institution, run by the vile Mrs Bellyband, but he’s hurt his arm and looks terribly pale. They say there’s no way out of True Haven, but I refuse to believe them. I’m working on a plan, but I know I have to hurry. It doesn’t help that even when I can slip out of the workhouse for a while, the streets are dark and foggy, and I swear I saw giant monsters lurking in the shadows ...

Is there anything about you that people are always giving you a hard time about? How do you feel about it?

You might think Claramina is a pretty name, but the other children shortened it to Mina, making it sound like ‘meanie’. I am a bit small for my age, so they called me ‘teeny weeny Mina’. I refused to cry, but it hurt. As I got older, I began to stand up for myself, but I still hate it when people think I can’t do something because I’m shorter than they are. Being tall doesn’t put you in charge, does it? Instead of getting angry, I try to think of ways around the problem – which seems to work. A particular gentleman called Florian Cabochon who I came to meet said I had the mind of a soldier! Well, that was a fine compliment and I tried not to let it go to my head. Still, I think years of being teased has made me stronger than I realised – and independent, too. There’s not much that can frighten me now. Which is perhaps just as well ...

Tell us, Claramina, what do you want to be when you grow up?

Before I’d ever heard of True Haven, I planned to become a proper tailor. It crossed my mind that Mr Thrums might retire and leave me his little shop. I dreamed that a dashing young courtier would arrive one day to order a new jacket, and would end up buying me a bridal gown, and we’d live in one of the fancy townhouses in the square. I knew how many children I wanted, every detail of the silverware we’d own, even the colour of the dinner service. (Actually, it was all based on my favourite book The Struggles of a Seamstress by Agnes Lavinia Stourmont which Mr Thrums leant me.)

But then everything changed with True Haven, and I found out there was much more to life than being a seamstress. So, I haven’t decided, to be truthful, but perhaps, after all the excitement is over, I might go back to a nice school and learn more about the real world before I decide.

So, that’s me. Miss Claramina Dart from Mudwells, but you can call me Mina. I’ve got used to the name.

Very well, Mina, it sounds like you have an exciting adventure indeed. We wish you the best of luck and hope your story has a happy ending! Readers, here is more about Mina’s book, True Haven.

Young seamstress Miss Claramina Dart of overpopulated Mudwells is unfairly arrested and thrown into a workhouse far away in the city of True Haven. She befriends Barley, another orphan, and they plan to escape, but the city is not what it seems. Elegant on the outside, it is run by cruel childmongers while the youngsters do the hard labour. Worse, it is infested by mysterious giant creatures that prey on the children.

After a close shave, they are rescued by Otto, a clockmaker, and discover the scale of their plight, at the whim of the evil twins, Dandy and Dinmont Mortescue, the leaders of Mudwells.

Despite their efforts to escape, they are swept up in even more dastardly plots and counter-plots between Mudwells and a rival city state as the ruthless twins use True Haven and Otto’s devices in a deadly struggle for power.

Readers, you can learn more about Claramina’s author here:

Pam Kelt has worked in publishing and journalism, including Bath, and is now the author of seven novels, some for adults, some for younger readers. She now lives in Kenilworth with her husband Rob and enjoys long walks with Chester and Lottie (her two lovely rescue dogs), watching her windowsill orchids grow and keeping up with the best fantasy fiction around.

Find out more about True Haven and the story behind the story on the accompanying blog. You can follow me on TwitterFacebook and PinterestFind out all the latest on my author website and blogSee my author pages on Amazon.comGoodreads and SmashwordsThere’s a book trailer here: 

Or why not send an email to

November 5, 2014

Three Times A Charm with Laurel A Rockefeller

Today on Three Times A Charm we welcome author, Laurel A Rockefeller. I love introducing my readers to the people who work in children’s publishing.

So nice to have you join us, Laurel. Can you tell us a little about yourself, please?

Hello, my name is Laurel A. Rockefeller.  I am a gifted historian and historical reconstructionist originally from Lincoln, Nebraska, USA.  History and science have always been my passion, ever since I was a little girl attending sky shows at the Hyde Observatory.  As a child, stories of Robin Hood, King Arthur, and Luke Skywalker filled my imagination.  The first movie I ever saw was the original “Benji” movie from 1974 which I saw with three generations of my family in a little town in rural Nebraska.  That experience, along with one Christmas where my family read “A Christmas Carol” aloud together around our tree cemented into my mind the need for family-centric literature and movies as certainly as watching Star Wars (before it was “A New Hope”) cemented my interest in physics and astronomy.
A child of extreme domestic and sexual violence growing up, my family and my church taught me to fear and avoid my talents.  When my gift for writing first showed I was told that becoming a writer would turn me into the violent monster who did so many terrible things to me and others in my family.  Though all I ever wanted to do was write and sing, I found myself at war with what they wanted me to be and who I really was.
Even my now famous passion for England was discouraged under severe social pressure, as if there was something inherently wrong with loving Shakespeare and finding the middle ages fascinating.
At the University of Nebraska, a glitch in my class schedule threw me into a woman’s history course, changing my life forever by teaching me, quite against the teachings of my family, that women are no less than men and that woman can do amazing things  –  the very message I share in my Legendary Women of World History Series that I think all girls and women need to hear.
In 2009, I stopped running from my talent and really started embracing the beautiful person I am.  In 2011 I started work on my first novel, “The Great Succession Crisis” from the Peers of Beinan science fiction series.  Eighteen months later, I published the first edition of GSC, reworking and adding to it as the current extended edition in January 2013.  Two months later, I published its sequel, “The Ghosts of the Past,” while continuing to write non-fiction for Yahoo Voices.
In March 2014 an informal poll revealed to me not only how poor history literacy is among British and Americans, but that women’s history literacy is almost non-existent in both countries.  That inspired me to begin The Legendary Women of World History Series of biographies for young readers (age 8+) focusing on the lives of women who have truly transformed our world.
In May 2014 I met British voice actor Richard Mann through ACX (Amazon’s publishing platform for Audible), beginning what is now the most powerful and inspiring creative collaborations I’ve ever seen or heard.  Richard Mann’s many talents are the perfect fit for my talents.  His narrations of my audio books are so beautiful that the first time I heard “Boudicca:  Britain’s Queen of the Iceni” I literally cried tears of joy for the first time in my life.  Mr. Mann has taught me that my work  –  and my heart – are truly beautiful.
Tell us more about your books.

The Legendary Women of World History Series brings history to life as you have never seen or heard it before.  Focusing on the true stories of women who have transformed our world, you will be inspired by the courage, conviction, and strength of these women who until now have remained almost entirely forgotten and unknown to most people.
I recommend my book to readers who like:
Pride and Prejudice
The Lord of the Rings

Okay – now it’s time for the three’s. Please share your top three answers to the following questions so we can get to know you a little better.

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

The internet, a powerful computer, and dedicated professionals willing to consult with me and answer questions.

·         Top 3 favorite places.

Brooklyn, New York United States
London, United Kingdom
Toronto, Ontario Canada

·         Top 3 childhood memories.

1.      Attending Saturday night sky shows and looking through telescopes at the Hyde Memorial Observatory in Lincoln, Nebraska from about the age of 3 until my university years.  Hyde observatory introduced me to my love of science.  The Peers of Beinan Series really would not exist if not for those early experiences with physics and astronomy.
2.      Watching Star Wars (before it was “A New Hope”) in the movie theatre.  Like so many Gen X kids, Star Wars captured my imagination and really influenced my interests later on.  Reading the novel version in grammar school had a huge influence on my writing because George Lucas uses the prologue-main story-epilogue structure which I use in the overwhelming majority of my books.  
3.      One Christmas the entire family gathered together around the tree to read Charles Dicken’s “A Christmas Carol.”  It was a book the entire family enjoyed altogether and showed me that the best stories need to be accessible to everyone, no matter how young or old.

And finally, where can our tech savvy readers find more about you so they don’t miss out on your books?

Talk to Laurel and join the conversation on twitter at, follow Laurel on pinterest at, then check out Laurel's blog at

Thanks for joining us on this week’s Three Times A Charm, Laurel! Best of luck to you and your books.


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 1, 2014

Holiday Giveaway - Win a Kindle Fire - Kids Edition!

I am thrilled to be a sponsor of this really AWESOME giveaway! Look at this great new Kindle for kids - just released by Amazon. You have all sorts of ways to enter to win your very own, all while discovering some great books to load onto the Kindle as soon as you win it! Have fun and good luck!

I'd also like to add a HUGE thank you to Mother Daughter Book Reviews for the hard work compiling this epic giveaway. All I can say is, "Wow!"

Holiday Giveaway Kindle Fire Kids Edition 2014 - button

About the Kindle Fire HD Kids Edition 7" Tablet

Fire HD Kids Edition Tablet
I was pretty excited to see this pretty cool new product available through Amazon. This is a HOT PRODUCT! The all-new Kindle Fire HD Kids Edition Tablet also comes with 1 year of Amazon FreeTime Unlimited (which means kids get unlimited access to 5,000 books, movies, TV shows, educational apps, and games—at no additional cost!). It includes a quad-core processor for great performance, a vivid HD display, front and rear-facing cameras, and Dolby Audio PLUS comes with a Kid-Proof Case, and a 2-year worry-free guarantee - if they break it, return it and Amazon replaces it for free. No questions asked! Um... can you say Christmas present?  

Fabulous Sponsors (Bloggers)

Thank you to the following bloggers who are sponsoring this giveaway. Please consider visiting at least one or two and thanking them personally.
Mother Daughter Book Reviews Enter Here Canada Lavender Likes, Loves, Finds and Dreams I am a Reader Addicted Readers Crystal's Tiny Treasures A Bit Bookish Home on Deranged  Book, Reviews and Giveaways Tales of a Bookworm BeachBoundBooks A Leisure Moment   

Fabulous Sponsors (Authors and Publishers)

A big thank you to all of the participating authors and publishers who are sponsoring this giveaway. Below you will find their fabulous books broken down by category. Please note that these categories are not mutually exclusive. For example, some of the middle grade books featuring dogs also feature a great adventure or some great tween books also have a hint of magical realism.


Under each category you will see a button to "Add to Amazon Wish List" and "Add to Goodreads". If you click on these buttons, you will be directed to a Listmania list or one of my bookshelves where you can add each book to either your wish list (Amazon) or want-to-read shelf (Goodreads). Doing this will earn you entries in the giveaway below. AMAZON: Hint...if you scroll to the bottom of the list on Amazon, you will see a button "Add All Items to Your Wish List". One click is all it takes! GOODREADS: If you do not see the column entitled "my rating", click on "settings" and make sure that the "shelves" box is checked. This will make it super-easy to add the books to your "to-read" shelf. Please consider purchasing one, two or more books that interest you as a "Thank You" to these generous sponsors. Some books are free, others only 99 cents!  

Picture Books for the Holidays

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  Santa's Birthday GiftLobo's Howliday by C.L. MurphyThe Christmas Owl by Angela MuseFrizzy the S.A.D. Elf by Dorothea Jensen        

Rhyming Picture Books

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  When Violet Was Blue by Deb TroehlerThe Magic WordPlay yayPeter and the Whimper Whineys -coverGimme Jimmy        

Award Winning Picture Books

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  My Fingerpaint Masterpiece - coverABC Adoption and MeGood-bye Baby Max by Diane CantrellCaptain No Beard and the Aurora BorealisThe Crew Goes Coconuts by Carole Roman        

Picture Books (Life Lessons)

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  Isabella Babysits Baxter by Melissa Perry MorajaThe Tail of a Boy Named Harvey by Gregory BrayThe Time Travel Storm - coverPopcorn: No one makes a mess like a hungry childManner-Man by Sherrill Cannon        

Picture Books (Non-Fiction)

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  Sophias Jungle AdventureSometimes Snow Falls in the SummerIf You Were Me and Lived in GreeceIf You Were Me and Lived in PeruA Different Kind of Safari Helen Hipp        

Great Books for Tweens

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  Karmack by J.C. WhyteThe Bravest SquirrelThe WeaverFuzzy ForensicsBefore Happily Ever After        

Chapter Books for Newly Independent Readers

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  Camp Bug JuiceThe Mystic Princesses and the WhirlpoolA Whirlwind of DiscoveryFinding Fuzzy by Cat MichaelsSweet T and the North Wind        

Chapter Books for Reluctant Readers

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  The IfsSecret Dinosaur - Book 1Dewy and the Seeds of Doom by Maggie LyonsDemonic Incident in ChinatownFrankie Dupont and the Mystery of Enderby Manor by Julie Anne Grasso        

Middle Grade Books Featuring Dogs

Add to Amazon Wish List ButtonAdd to Goodreads Button
  The Observations of the Obstreperous AnimalsGeorge Knows by Mindy MymudesA Place to Call Home by G.A. WhitmoreCreate Space coverLegend of Ghost Dog Island        

Middle Grade (Magical Realism)

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  WhipEye by Geoffrey SaignSticks n Stones and the Garden of Phea - SidebarPair of DocksDiego's DragonIlmarinen        

Middle Grade (Science Fiction/Time Travel)

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  ThePrincelingsoftheEast__FinalTime Square UFOSpartanicaThe SwiftThe Last Timekeepers and the Arch of AtlantisEscape from the Forbidden Planet julie grasso              

Books for Tween/Teen Girls

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  The Secret Sisters Club - coverperf5.0625x7.8125.inddBingo Summer by Dawn MaloneDelores Fletcher - coverThe_Princess_Fables_Cover_for_Kindle - 50        

Middle Grade (Adventure)

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  The Jewel of PeruThe Null DimensionRagesongGhost Leopard by Lars GuignardJohn Bloom and the Victory Garden        

Giveaway Details

Prize: One winner will receive either a new Kindle Fire HD Kids Edition 7" Tablet (US only) a $200 Amazon gift card (International) or $200 PayPal cash prize (International) Contest closes: November 30, 11:59 pm, 2014 Open to: Internationally How to enter: Please enter using the Rafflecopter widget below. Terms and Conditions: NO PURCHASE NECESSARY TO ENTER OR WIN. VOID WHERE PROHIBITED BY LAW. A winner will be randomly drawn through the Rafflecopter widget and will be contacted by email within 48 hours after the giveaway ends. The winner will then have 72 hours to respond. If the winner does not respond within 72 hours, a new draw will take place for a new winner. Odds of winning will vary depending on the number of eligible entries received. This contest is in no way sponsored, endorsed or administered by, or associated with Facebook. This giveaway is hosted and managed by Renee from Mother Daughter Book Reviews. If you have any additional questions – feel free to send and email to Renee(at)MotherDaughterBookReviews(dot)com. NOTE: When the winner is chosen, ALL of their entries will be verified. If ANY of the winner's entries is invalid, they will be disqualified and a new winner will be chosen. a Rafflecopter giveaway MDBR Book Promotion Services