August 31, 2016

Three Times A Charm with Bob Richley

Welcome to Three Times A Charm. I love to introduce readers to the people involved in children’s publishing. Today we welcome children’s author, Bob Richley. Bob, can tell us a little about yourself?

I grew up in the Chicago area and now live in beautiful Colorado. Growing up, I would often go camping in the Rocky Mountains. It was these childhood camping trips and especially my visit to Crater Lake in Oregon that were the inspiration for events in the Oregon Kids series. I am a parent who has volunteered for years in children’s ministry. Teaching children good values and the grace of God are my passions. My stories, originally written for a single mom to help her raise her children, are a way to fulfill this passion. I have always loved children. I want all children to be raised with love and grace. It is my hope that my stories will be one of many tools that parents will use to teach and to raise their children with Godly values

I live about an hour and a half north of Crater Lake. Like Colorado, this is a beautiful place to raise children. Tell us more about your book.

The Big Catch is the first book in The Oregon Kids series. All the books have a character value lesson. The Big Catch was published May 10 2016. In The Big Catch, the value of being selfless and giving to others is exemplified. Billy and Autumn are brother and sister. At the beginning of the story, Billy is selfish, impatient and prideful. He sees his sister as a bother and burden. All that concerns him is fishing and catching the biggest fish. At the end, however, Billy shows compassion for his sister, Autumn. The Big Catch is meant to be read with your child. It gives parents an opportunity to discuss Billy’s character and presents a good example for teaching values of giving, being selfless, and sacrificing. The next book in the series, Runaway Whiskers is being published. Runaway Whiskers introduces a new character, Johanna. Johanna receives a pet rabbit from her dad. When she leaves the cage open one day, the rabbit, Whiskers, runs away. Autumn finds the rabbit and is reluctant to return it. Autumn learns the valuable lesson of being honest.

I recommend my book to readers who like Heidi by Johanna Spyri, The Sneetches by Dr. Seuss and The Giving Tree by Shel Silverstein

Now let’s move on to the threes. Give us your top 3 responses to the following to help us get to know you better.

  • Top 3 books you recommend reading and why you recommend them.
    • Heidi by Johanna Spyri because it teaches value of faith and touches my passion for the beauty of nature.
    • To Kill a Mocking Bird by Harper Lee because Atticus Finch is a wonderful father figure.
    • The Lord of the Rings by J. R. R. Tolkien because it is a wonderful adventure and teaches good values especially the value of friendship.

  • Top 3 tools of the trade you couldn’t live without.
    • Spell checker because I’m a terrible speller.
    • My computer because I have awful hand writing and need to type my stories.
    • Experiences because I draw upon them to write my stories.

  • Top 3 things you learned about the business after becoming a writer.
    • Writing is easy compared to marketing.
    • Authors actually pay for reviews and finding people who will review the book in exchange for a copy of the book is not easy.
    • There are plenty whose target market is an author.

  • Top 3 most admired people and why you admire them.
    • Jesus because he lived a perfect life and was murdered because he loved.
    • Leo Buscaglia because he spent his life promoting unconditional love.
    • Gandhi because he freed a country through non-violent methods. 

  • Top 3 snacks to munch on while working.
    • Ice Cream
    • Grapes
    • Granola bars

  • Top 3 leisure activities.
    • Trail running
    • Reading (of course)
    • Water skiing

  • Top 3 favorite ways to interact with readers.
    • Chat
    • Facebook comments
    • Interviews

  • Top 3 professions you wanted to be when you grew up.
    • Priest
    • Teacher
    • Day care professional

  • Top 3 favorite places.
    • Grand Teton National Park
    • Rocky Mountain National Park
    • The Philippians because my wife is from there.

  • Top 3 personal mantras or inspirational phrases.
    • Love is always bestowed as a gift - freely, willingly and without expectation. We don't love to be loved; we love to love. – Leo Buscaglia
    • It is more blessed to give than receive – Jesus
    • You must be the change you wish to see in the world. - Mahatma Gandhi

  • Top 3 favorite personality traits that appeal to you.
    • Creative
    • Compassionate
    • Caring

  • Top 3 places you find writing inspiration.
    • The mountains
    • Home/Family
    • Ministry/Church

Where can our tech savvy readers find you and your book online?

The book is available on Amazon and

Bob, it’s been a pleasure hosting you today. Best of luck to your book and with your writing.


August 26, 2016

Building Character with Mercy from Scavenger of Souls by Joshua David Bellin

Yay – it’s Friday! Friday’s begin the weekend and weekends offer all sorts of READING time! So to help you make your reading decisions, I’d like to introduce you to Mercy from her newly released book Scavenger of Souls by Joshua David Bellin. She's brought a giveaway along with her, so be sure to read to the end.

Welcome to Strands of Thoughts, Mercy. Can you tell us a little about you, please?

You want to know about me? Really? Do I look like I have time for this?

Okay, fine. My name’s Mercy, I’m eighteen years old, and I’ve been stuck all my life inside this piss-poor excuse for a base commanded by my grandfather. Occasionally I manage to sneak out to hunt for Skaldi and other objectionable life forms, starting with my whack-job of a father. But that’s a long story, and I’m really not in the mood right now, okay?

Sure, Mercy. I understand. Let’s focus on the part you play in Scavenger of Souls. What conflict are you up against?

Not that it’s any of your business, but my entire life is one nonstop conflict. Yeah, I know, poor poor pitiful me. But I’m serious. I already told you about my dad and grandpa, plus now I’ve got to deal with this scrawny kid named Querry, who comes strolling into base claiming to be some kind of Skaldi-killing machine. Personally, I think he’s a spy. Or a fool. Take your pick. Either way, he’s a royal pain in the ass.

Well, from what I know of your world, Querry would be pretty darn handy if he truly is a Skaldi-killing machine. You might not want to dismiss him so quickly. Let’s see, maybe there’s a bright spot in all of this. Tell us about your best friend.

My best friend at the moment is my gun. Actually, that’s been my best friend for the past ten years. When I was little, I had my older sister, Beryl, and my older brother, Ardan, as playmates. But (see above) my whackadoodle father took both of them away from me. Like I said, long story. Not really in the mood.

Yeah, okay, so no bright spot. Is there anything about you that people are always giving you a hard time about? How do you feel about it?

You ask a lot of personal questions, you know? I’m not sure I like you so much.

But okay, one of the biggest problems I have is that I’m the only girl on a base filled with teenage boys. I know what you’re thinking, but that’s not the problem. The problem is that they seem to think they’re so freaking much better than me just because they’ve got a pair. So I find myself having to put them in their place from time to time. Which gives me a reputation as being kind of hostile. Which is just fine with me.

You, hostile? Imagine that. Though, admittedly, I don’t live in survival of the fittest environment. What do you want to be when you grow up?

Alive would be nice. Next question.

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

Have you visited my world lately? It’s a freaking desert knee-deep in monsters. We’re holed up in this dump, and my dad’s out there causing no end of trouble, and my grandpa’s afraid of letting me outside the gate for fear that I might stub my toe or whatever, and now this Querry character is trying to trick me or put the moves on me or something equally annoying, I don’t even know.

So what would I change about this world? How about people leaving me alone? Starting with you.

Very well, Mercy. I’ll leave you alone. I appreciate you taking the time to visit with us. I imagine anything as frivolous as an interview can cost you dearly. Readers, here is some more information about Mercy’s book, Scavenger of Souls.

Querry Genn is running out of time.  He may have saved his survival colony and defeated a nest of the monstrous Skaldi, but that doesn’t mean he has any more answers to who he is. And Querry’s mother, Aleka, isn’t talking. Instead, she’s taken over the colony and is leading them through a wasteland of unfamiliar territory. But when they reach Aleka’s destination, everything Querry believed about his past is challenged.

In the middle of a burned-out desert, an entire compound of humans has survived with plenty of food and equipment. But the colonists find no welcome there, especially from Mercy, the granddaughter of the compound’s leader. Mercy is as tough a fighter as Querry has ever seen—and a girl as impetuous as he is careful. But the more Querry learns about Mercy and her colony, the more he uncovers the gruesome secrets that haunt Mercy’s past—and his own.

With threats mounting from the Skaldi and the other humans, Querry must grapple with the past and fight to save the future. In the thrilling conclusion to the story that began with Survival Colony 9, Joshua David Bellin narrates a tale of sacrifice, courage against overwhelming odds, and the fateful choices that define us for a lifetime.

Barnes & Noble, Simon & Schuster, IndieBound, etc.:

And here is a little info about Mercy’s author. Don’t worry; I’ll wait while you order the book. I understand…

Joshua David Bellin has been writing novels since he was eight years old (though the first few were admittedly very short). He taught college for twenty years, wrote a bunch of books for college students, then decided to return to fiction. Survival Colony 9 is his first novel, with the sequel, Scavenger of Souls, set to release on August 23, 2016. A third YA science fiction novel, the deep-space adventure/romance Freefall, will appear in 2017.

Josh loves to read, watch movies, and spend time in Nature with his kids. Oh, yeah, and he likes monsters. Really scary monsters.

a Rafflecopter giveaway Happy reading!

August 24, 2016

Three Times A Charm with Nicky Peacock

Welcome to Three Times A Charm. I love to introduce readers to the people involved in children’s publishing. Today we welcome young adult author, Nicky Peacock. I’m visiting Nicky’s blog today too! I’ll share the link at the end of this interview, but first let’s get to know Ms. Peacock. Nicky, share with us a little about you.

I still live in the town I was born in (sad but true) A place called Corby. If the map of the UK were a person, I’d be living on his belt buckle. I was first published back in 2012 in a vampire anthology and have been submitting work ever since. I now have 35 short stories published and 4 YA novels through Evernight Teen Publishing. Growing up in a small town, I had no writing mentors or help with getting my start as a writer, so I run a free local writers group and volunteer at local schools and libraries to help the next generation of writers.

That’s very generous of you to do that. Mentoring is often the step a person needs to learn how to achieve their dreams and goals. Let’s hear more about your work.  

My two YA series are with Evernight Teen: Battle of the Undead is a Vampires VS Zombies series – there are currently two books (Bad Blood & Bad Timing) and a free prequel read (Traitors’ Gate) available. My second series, The Twisted and The Brave are supernatural thrillers based on classic children’s literature. The first book in the series, Lost in Wonderland is out now.

Traitors’ Gate – historical urban fantasy is a free read.
Bad Blood – is a vampires VS zombies urban fantasy
Lost in Wonderland – is a contemporary thriller twist on Lewis Carroll’s Alice in Wonderland

Okay, let’s move on to the threes. Give us your top 3 responses to the following to help us get to know you better.

    • Top 3 things you learned about the business after becoming a writer.

    1)        It’s hard work – even when you get your publishing deal. Modern writers are required to promote their books so expect to spend at least half of your writing time doing this. Personally, my day job is in marketing, so it’s not an issue for me. But I know some writers that shy away from promotion for just writing. The problem is, due to self-publishing we’re now in a flooded marketplace so authors need to get out there and search out spotlights for themselves and their work.
    2)        People think you earn a fortune. A sobering fact about being an author is that probably 70% are not paying their bills with their royalties. It’s a surprisingly small amount that can write full time and an even smaller amount that are in the same league as JK Rowling or Stephen King. I still have to maintain a full-time job to afford those luxuries in life such as food and shelter – but you never know…one day I might be able just to do what I love, write.
    3)        Being a single lady and an author is hard! (I’m yet to understand fully why) but as soon as a man finds out I’m an author, they go running off into the middle distance. I had one guy abandon me mid-date when I told him. Maybe I’m missing something? Perhaps they think I’m going to write about them? I do tend to base victim characters on people I don’t like so, maybe they’re right? LOL.

    • Top 3 snacks to munch on while working.

    1)      Peanut M&Ms – sweet, crunchy energy
    2)      Chocolate Brownies – there’s a cake shop in town that makes the most chocolatey moist, squidgy squares of fatty goodness you can buy. I always treat myself with one when I know I have a long writing session coming up.
    3)      Not so much a snack but a beverage: Russian Caravan tea. It’s smoky and strong and has enough of a kick to keep me working whilst making me feel slightly gypsy-like.

    • Top 3 personal mantras or inspirational phrases.

1)        You can’t please everyone – the best advice I was never given! I figured this out all on my own when my first book came out. Some readers like action, others romance and some want pages of description and then others don’t. The best thing to do is write in your voice in your style. I do listen to my reviews, though. My latest book Lost in Wonderland is getting some great ones, and those lovely readers are saying that they would have liked a longer book – they want more, so in the second one, I’m giving them more.
2)        If you do nothing, you’ll get nothing – I meet a lot of people, writers especially, who complain that they don’t get anywhere, but when you dig a little deeper, they’re not doing anything. They’re not submitting work or pitching book blogs or entering competitions, worse; they’re not even really writing! It doesn’t matter how or where you start on the road to what you want, just do something!
3)        Pay it forward – Through my life, I’ve always tried to help people. I believe in karma: If you do good things, good things will happen to you. I’m still not 100% on this working, however, but I live in hope!

Finally, please share with us where our tech savvy readers can find out more about you and your book.

Thanks for joining us today, Nicky. It was great to get to know more about you and your work.


Now, after you leave a comment to say "Hi" to Nicky, hop on over to her blog to read my interview. 

August 17, 2016

Three Times A Charm with Megan Crewe and A Mortal Song

Welcome to Three Times A Charm. I love to introduce readers to the people involved in publishing book for childrens and teens. Today we welcome young adult author, Megan Crewe, and her upcoming release, A Mortal Song. I’m even sharing a rare review at the end of the interview. But first, let’s get to know Ms. Crewe. Megan, tell us a little about you.

I’m a Canadian author of YA speculative fiction: fantasy, science fiction, paranormal, horror, it’s all good. My books include the upcoming A MORTAL SONG, the Earth & Sky trilogy, the Fallen World series, and GIVE UP THE GHOST. I live in Toronto with my family, and when I’m not writing or reading, I’m probably planning some new trip around the world.

Let’s hear more about A Mortal Song.

A MORTAL SONG will sweep you away into the world of Japanese mythology, with a unique twist on popular fantasy conventions. Sora believed she was heir to Mt. Fuji's spirit kingdom, but when the mountain is attacked, she discovers she is a human changeling raised as a decoy while her parents' true daughter remained safe in modern-day Tokyo. As she struggles with her sudden loss of power, she must find a way to train the unprepared kami princess and save the only home she's ever known.

Pre-order A MORTAL SONG before Septmber 13th, and you can receive an exclusive digital gift pack! Plus the ebook is only $0.99 right now.

I recommend my book to readers who like:
The Iron Fey series by Julie Kagawa
The Daughter of Smoke and Bone trilogy by Laini Taylor
The Fire and Thorns trilogy by Rae Carson

Great comps, I’ve read and enjoyed Taylor’s and Carson’s series as well as A Mortal Song. Now I’ll have to check out Kagawa’s. Okay, let’s move on to the threes. To help us know you better, give us your top 3 responses to the following.

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

-My laptop. It helps me get away from obsessive internet browsing (which I’m prone to on my desktop computer) and lets me work on my books everywhere from my living room couch to the middle of a forest during a cottage retreat.
-My super comfy Victorian wingchair in which I do most of my drafting, and quite a bit of reading too.
-The palm-sized notebook I carry in my purse everywhere, so I can jot down the fantastic brainstorms that inevitably occur to me when I’m on the go.

  • Top 3 favorite ways to interact with readers.

-Getting emails. It’s always heartwarming to see someone take the time to contact me directly and let me know they’ve enjoyed my books!
-Twitter. Such a great place to chat back and forth!
-At signings and events. There’s nothing quite like getting to meet a fan face-to-face in a bookstore or at a convention!

  • Top 3 favorite places.

-Toronto. I’ve lived in this city all my life, and every time I consider moving somewhere else, I realize there’s no other place that has everything this one does that I love.
-Japan. I’ve been there twice and always leave already looking forward to the next time I can come back. It’s a beautiful country and I always feel at ease there.
-Ontario cottage country. My critique group goes on an annual retreat off into the forested lake country. I adore the peaceful vibe and being surrounded by nature.

Finally, please share with us where our tech savvy readers can find out more about you and your books.

Thanks for joining us today, Megan, and for trusting me with an advanced copy of your book. It was great to get to know more about you and your work.


I was immediately intrigued by the blurb of A Mortal Song and the book cover is gorgeous. So when Megan offered an advance copy in exchange for an honest review, I took her up on the offer. Because of my busy schedule, I rarely commit to reviews, but I’m glad I did in this case. My thoughts:

Rich storytelling

This book has a rich combination of culture, adventure, and magic. The Japanese culture is what drew me to the story in the first place and I was not disappointed. It was so well represented, that it even felt like one of the characters, Chiyo, was straight out of an anime. Then I was further intrigued by the idea that a girl learns she is mortal and has to overcome the weaknesses of being mortal to save the magical world she is from. Again, the execution of that storyline was great. I frequently wondered how she’d escape from the most recent dire situation only to be surprised by the cleverness.

Well written, interesting characters, beautiful cover. I definitely recommend this book.

Congratulations, Megan, on a job well done.

August 3, 2016

Release Day Review: Sign of the Green Dragon by C. Lee McKenzie

Happy release day to C. Lee McKenzie and Sign of the Green Dragon

About the book:

Three plucky sleuths. A crumbling skeleton. A buried treasure.

After six months in a new school, Sam's finally fitting in. He's the one kid with enough talent to hit the winning home run and bring the baseball trophy back to Haggarty Elementary. But Sam's guardian is shipping him off to boarding school before that can happen.

When teammates, Joey and Roger, hear his bad news, they plot to hide him until the big game. Their secret cave is a perfect place until an earthquake shatters a wall and reveals a wooden chest with a red-eyed dragon carved into its top. Inside, a bony hand clutches a map with a note, promising treasure.

With Joey and Roger, Sam sets off to track down the clues and hopefully discover treasure.

Just as some puzzle pieces start to make sense, the boys become lost in a labyrinth of underground tunnels, trapped by dangerous thieves and sealed inside an airless tomb. 

Sign of the Green Dragon gets a high five for fantasy, fun and some fearsome adventure. If you like intrepid would-be knights on impossible and dangerous quests, you'll love this story. As one reader says, this book, "has more twists than a dragon's tail."

Buy now to jump into the adventure.

My review:

From the well-developed characters to the intriguing mystery, Lee McKenzie has written a winner of a middle grade novel. I enjoyed everything about this book, but especially the characters. Even the supporting characters were intriguing and a bit of a mystery. Main characters, Sam, Joey, and Roger are believable – equal parts engaging and frustrating, like many boys their age. They get into and out of and into trouble again and again while trying to solve a mystery.

Though the characters were a high point, I also enjoyed the cave where Jen and his uncle lived and the taste of Asian culture that we got throughout the book. Really great read for middle graders.

(A copy of this book was provided in exchange for an honest review.)

You can pick up a copy of Sign of the Green Dragon from Amazon or other etailers.

You can find out more about Lee and her other great books on her website.

August 1, 2016

August #InkRipples – Guilty Pleasures

I must clarify right off the bat that I have trouble with the phrase guilty pleasures. The “guilty” part to be precise. Feeling guilt over a pleasure indicates that you are doing it when you shouldn’t be, therefore you feel guilty. I know – it’s just a saying – but one of my very strong beliefs in this life is that I live it so that I don’t feel guilt. The decisions I make, the actions I take are in line with my morals and beliefs. From doing what’s right, to telling friends and family I love them, to apologizing if I’ve done wrong, and even to popping a bonbon into my mouth – I work hard to live without guilt and I suggest every person do the same.

So, putting together a post on this is difficult for me even though I know it’s only meant to indicate how I indulge myself. But honestly, I work dang hard for my rewards, whether they be time to sit and read or an evening out with the girls, I don’t take anything I don’t feel I’ve worked for already – therefore, why would I feel guilty, right? If you haven’t figured it out, I’m a pretty literal person, and this month’s ink ripples concept is really screwing with me.

Calories are often a guilty pleasure (I rarely feel consumption guilt, because I exercise regularly) and there is one indulgence I haven’t provided myself in a long time that I think is shocking enough for this post. And it’s simply because I rarely find it in our small town grocery stores. Sour cream herring! Yes, I used to buy a jar (maybe 3.5 to 4 ounce jar) of sour cream herring and sit down with a fork and eat the entire thing in one sitting. Dang it, my mouth is watering while I type this. Though I probably never did it more than once or twice a year it has been a number of years since I saw my last jar. Sad really. But funny how I hadn’t thought about it until composing this silly post.

Other favorite food indulgences are crackers and squeeze cheese, which I’m sure is super bad for you, or potato chips and French onion dip. Sheesh, sour cream, cheese, French onion dip – my Wisconsin upbringing is showing!

Other than reading when there is housework to be done (but honestly, when isn’t there housework to be done?) and seeing a movie in the movie theater (so stupid expensive anymore) I can’t think of anything else that might invoke my guilt for claiming the time or money to do it.

The take away from my ripple this month is far more philosophical than one might expect. Live your life, make each decision, so that if you are taken from this earth at any moment you will have nothing to feel guilty for. No one else can do this for you but YOU.

Now, the question is, what indulgence are you going to make sure you've worked to earn because you don't want to go without and now realize you don't have to feel guilt over? 

Ripples in the Inkwell is a themed meme hosted by Mary Waibel, Katie L. Carroll, and Kai Strand posting on the second Monday of every month. To participate compose your own post regarding the theme of the month, and link back to the three host blogs. Feel free to post whenever you want during the month, but be sure to include #inkripples when you promote so readers can find you. The idea is that we toss a word or idea into the inkwell and each post is a new ripple. There is no wrong interpretation. Themes and images and more information can be found here.