Looking for gift ideas for a young reader? Check out this library dedicated to kids! #childrensbooks #kids #youngreaders #book #giftideas

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Need gift ideas for young readers? Check out this #library dedicated to children. #youngreaders @simonkids_UK #childrensbooks #youngreaders Continue reading

A selection of children’s books by @Misty_Books with amazing #illustrations for #preschoolers

DOGNAPPED! Is a finalist in The People’s Book Prize 2017 – voting re-opens in May. Continue reading

Book Alert! My Alphabet Animals is currently #free #moms #childrens #kindergarten

FREE children’s book up until 10th October!   by Betsie Lewis My Alphabet Animals helps your child learn the letters and sounds of the alphabet with fun and adorable animals. This children’s book will teach all 26 uppercase and lowercase … Continue reading

Little Bird, Little Bird, It’s Time For Bed #preschool #freeaudiobooks #moms

By Adam Lewis It’s the end of the day and Oscar the Owl cannot find Little Bird to let him know it’s time for bed. His animal friends search for Little Bird before it’s dark. Join Oscar the Owl, Frita … Continue reading

What happens to the bond when one twin dies? Does it die with the twin. Or strengthen…

Rosalie Warren
Children’s Author
Anna and Chloe are twins. They share everything – from secrets to clothes; from fending off the school bully to dealing with their parents’ separation. Even Chloe’s terrible accident hasn’t split them apart. After all, twins have a special bond….

But Anna is beginning to realise that being inseparable isn’t always easy. Especially when no one else seems to understand that Chloe isn’t really gone; no one apart from the dashing Joe that is, who, inconveniently, seems to like both sisters.
Told through the eyes and mind of 12 year-old Anna, this is a powerful novel exploring teenage life and the grieving process.
blurb (c) Phoenix Yard Books  

Coping with Chloe will be out Monday 21st March. Be sure to pick up a copy.


Born and brought up in West Yorkshire Rosalie Warren spent most of her adult life in Scotland and now lives in the West Midlands. She has a PhD in Cognitive Science and used to be a lecturer, but when when she fell ill a few years ago she had the option of early retirement, which she took. Since then Rosalie has been busy writing.
Coping with Chloe is her first book for young people. She has two books published for adults so far:


http://rcm.amazon.com/e/cm?t=wiswor0a-21&o=1&p=8&l=bpl&asins=1906451079&fc1=000000&IS2=1&lt1=_blank&m=amazon&lc1=0000FF&bc1=000000&bg1=FFFFFF&f=ifr
http://rcm.amazon.com/e/cm?t=wiswor0a-21&o=1&p=8&l=bpl&asins=0709087535&fc1=000000&IS2=1&lt1=_blank&m=amazon&lc1=0000FF&bc1=000000&bg1=FFFFFF&f=ifrCharity’s Child, 2008, Circaidy Gregory Press
Low Tide, Lunan Bay, 2009, Robert Hale






 


What inspired you to write your book?
What got me going was a Winchester Writers’ Conference Competition which asked for the beginning of a book for age 12+. But I’m not sure where the particular idea came from. I’ve always been fascinated by twins and I’m also interested in psychology and how we cope with trauma in our lives. Anna, my main character, popped up from nowhere – she was suddenly there in my head, telling me about her life.


http://rcm.amazon.com/e/cm?t=wiswor0a-21&o=1&p=8&l=bpl&asins=1907912029&fc1=000000&IS2=1&lt1=_blank&m=amazon&lc1=0000FF&bc1=000000&bg1=FFFFFF&f=ifrWhat is it about?
It’s about a 12 year old girl, Anna, who believes her twin sister Chloe now lives inside her (Anna’s) head. Anna is happy with this arrangement, unlike her family and friends, who definitely aren’t. Or most of them aren’t, anyway. Gorgeous Joe likes both twins and can’t make up his mind. And Lisa Major, a bully, is determined to give Anna a hard time. Then Chloe starts making trouble and things get scary as she tries to take over Anna’s life.

Does Anna have a duel personality? A bit like Sybil where 12 alter egos “lived” inside her?
That’s one way of looking at it – though in Anna’s case it’s a temporary effect of the trauma she has suffered. It is more about Anna and her twin, but the romance with Joe is important too, and the two stories intertwine.

Was there a character you struggled with?
I made Lisa an out-and-out baddie, which I didn’t really like, but there wasn’t the space for anything more. I’m hoping to write a sequel where I will develop her character further and present her point of view.


How many unpublished books do you have lurking under your bed?
Phew – you’d have to ask the moths and millipedes, who may have already munched their way through quite a few! But I should say 3 complete novels, a few more abandoned ones and lots of yellowing ideas…


How did you find your publisher?
I found Phoenix Yard through the Wordpool website. They had only just got going so they weren’t in the Writers’ and Artists’ Yearbook, which is my usual source. They have been fantastic throughout. I submitted in December 2009 and Emma Langley contacted me on Christmas Eve to ask to see the full manuscript (that was a lovely Christmas treat). I sent it off in early January and by the end of January she got back to say they were interested in publishing. The contract was signed by the end of February, and for the next few months we the manuscript tooed and froed between us as Emma made various suggestions and I made changes. There was never any real conflict – I felt her vision for the book coincided with my own. She had some great insights and saw things in the story I’d missed. It’s a better book now, all credit to her. I would strongly recommend Phoenix Yard Books. They are relatively new but clearly going places! See their website at http://www.phoenixyardbooks.com/

How do your juggle a writing schedule?
My children are grown up so I don’t have to worry about them anymore. Well, I do worry about them, of course, but you know what I mean. I took early retirement in 2006 and so I’m lucky enough it be able to spend most of my day on writing-related things – new work, editing, researching and so on. I try to get the housework out of the way early on and fit in a walk or run around lunchtime. My main battle is not to eat too much chocolate between chapters!


What’s the best/worst part of being a writer?
Best: early on in a new book, when the characters take on a life of their own and you realise your main job is to sit back and listen. I love writing dialogue, too. Worst: I suppose the rejections. I’ve had some near misses with agents which have been painful. And the days when the writing doesn’t flow. But it’s a pretty good life and I try not to agonise too much – as someone reminded me recently, it’s not brain surgery and no one dies if I mess up.


What is the most productive time of the day for you to write?
First thing in the morning, when the critical part of my brain is still asleep, I’m still in touch with my dreamy side and the ideas can flow freely. I keep a notebook and pen by my bed and often write 2 or 3 pages before I get up.


Do you start your projects writing with paper and pen or is it all on the computer?
 Early ideas and drafts are always black ink on smooth white paper. Second draft (or sometimes partway through the first) I move to the computer.


What/who do you draw inspiration from?
 From the books I read, I suppose. I enjoy both literary and genre fiction, anything from Coetzee to chick-lit. My favourite authors of all time are Tove Jansson (the Moomin books), Richmal Crompton (Just William) and Hilary Mantel.


Do you set yourself goals when you sit down to write such as word count?
 I make myself write at least 1000 words a day. Once that’s done I can relax. Often I do much more, especially as I get towards the end of a book.


What are you working on now that you can talk about?
Latest venture is an SF book for adults that seems to be turning out somewhat ‘experimental’ – and may have to be an eBook for that reason. All very exciting. It’s about robots that are intelligent and conscious, and it’s the first time I’ve really used my professional knowledge in my fiction


How do/did you deal with rejection letters?
I have *kind of* got used to them – they certainly don’t hurt the way they used to. I tend to expect rejection and be pleasantly surprised at anything else. But some are still painful, especially the ones where you’ve had your hopes raised. I’m beginning to wonder whether I’ll ever get an agent, but I’ve found 3 publishers on my own so perhaps I’m doing something right!


Do you have a critique partner?
Not exactly, though I belong to two writers’ groups, one online and one that meets in a pub. Both are great for feedback, encouragement and advice.

Purchase info:
Amazon
Book Depository

Link up with Rosalie Warren:
Twitter: https://twitter.com/#!/Ros_Warren
Blog: http://rosalie-warren.blogspot.com/
Website: http://www.rosalie-warren.co.uk/
Email: roscov100@yahoo.co.uk

Why do professional writers shy away from Twitter…

and other on-line communities? Unfortunately they won’t be able to read this because they “don’t do blogs”, but Sara Sheridan is here to share her thoughts on the matter. 
My digital journey
by
Sara Sheridan
“Intelligent, accessible writing”
I’m an historical novelist – there are few jobs more retrospective. I dumped science at an early age. I expect that initially my interest and indeed patience for Twitter, blogs and html came from the fact I live with the Greatest Geek alive. So enormously scientific and complex is his day-to-day job that I still don’t really understand what he does. Suffice to say it’s something that enables 30 million users to simultaneously log onto a website without it crashing. Before I met the Greatest Geek I avoided technology and only adopted what my more savvy friends had road-tested and recommended. I was the last to get an email account in the late 1990s, the last to indulge in online shopping and I still sport a brick of a mobile phone rather than a flash Android or iPhone (this last because one of the prerequisites for my mobile phone is that I have to be able to fling it at a wall if I lose my temper). However, I’m a professional writer and I consider it part of my job to publicise my work and these days part of that job is done online.

I was reluctant. The Greatest Geek poured me a whisky and sat me down and said he’d help, but that this was my job and I’d have to do most of it myself (his time being taken up with the 30 million users). I started by building a website for my work on Google Sites and soon I was clicking the html button with aplomb and could understand enough to delete rogue lines or alter links. Then, on a trip to London I was introduced to someone in the digital marketing department at HarperCollins who told me I ought to try Twitter. My soul rebelled. This wasn’t my thing. No way. But I started – tentatively at first, and then surprisingly, I found I really enjoyed it. Writers don’t get to meet readers very often and when they do it’s only for a short time (after a book festival or library event, for example). On Twitter, people who had read my book followed me and I could see what else they were reading, why they’d liked what I’d written and by the by, more about them than I’d ever elicit from two minutes in a tent at a book festival, stuck at a signing desk. It was fascinating.

Next I started following and being followed by librarians and archivists, schoolteachers, events organisers, writers, bookshops, agents and publishers. A whole network was opening up. People were interested and fun and generous. I was offered a couple of event slots and the opportunity to write for a magazine. A famous writer to whom I got chatting gave me career advice. Then I decided I’d try blogging and wrote (non historical pieces) for other people’s blogs rather than starting one of my own. The response was wonderful – people got back in numbers and told me what they thought – not something that happens when you’re writing a story based in 1840s China or Arabia.

After that, I tried Facebook (which didn’t really suit me as it has a bias towards personal rather than professional data) but unperturbed I continued to blog occasionally, to tweet and also administer my own website. I joined Linkedin (to which events professionals seemed to respond) and bought a Kindle (which I love) Then people, or rather, festivals asked me to come to talk about it. And there, I think, was where I became an evangelist. I was in a book festival green room surrounded by luminaries when I first realised there was a huge split in the writing community. I asked if anyone else was on Twitter – in fact, you’d have thought I’d asked if anyone else had recently stabbed their kids in the heart. It just poured out. Writers who’d seemed retiring and quite reasonable started to hiss about intrusion of privacy and the importance of paper books and how un-green it was to sport a Kindle. What, I asked, innocently, less green than felling trees like billy-o, transporting them all over the place and then pulping 40% of them? Privacy? Is anyone asking you to blog or tweet or even facebook (if you must) your personal life? This is about reading and books – it’s an interesting way to meet people and share information.

‘What do you tweet?’ one eminent writer sneered. ‘Do you tell the world whenever you’ve had a scone?’

‘Nope. Just when I’m off at a book festival or reading something interesting,’ I told him. ‘It’s a great way to meet readers and they’ve all been so nice.’

This buttered no parsnips. One or two people said they simply didn’t have time for ‘that kind of thing’. These are people who would have dropped everything to do a newspaper interview or appear on radio. People who complained that their readership was falling and their publishing contracts were not being renewed. Even people whose readership was in the 12-16 age group, who (as yet) didn’t have a website despite the fact that kids of that age are enormously active online. One woman texted her daughter every five minutes whilst saying she had no time to write an 140 character tweet (lady, it’s the same thing). It was simply odd. Other writers and book trade professionals who were taking part in the social media revolution were, like me, bemused. Then some weeks later, I was verbally attacked at a public event by a writer who was mortally offended that I’d suggested she give it a shot (at worst you might not like it, at best it could revolutionise the way you work, I’d said. She hadn’t taken it well.)

These days, to be honest, as a result of that experience, I never evangelise unbidden though I am increasingly being booked for festival and writers’ groups events to talk about my experiences online. I tend not to argue with writers who put up a barrage about how impossible it would be for them to have a website or start a twitter account or a facebook fanpage. It makes me sad that these are writers – professional communicators – who are shying away from a medium that is crying out for their skills and demonstrably is the best way to communicate with a wide readership.

Most of all this is an era where our digital rights are being defined and because so many writers consider it beneath them, many important issues are not being considered and decided by writers themselves but by the digital operations departments of major publishing houses, online booksellers and other corporate entities. I am not thinking only of digital copyright – Net Neutrality is probably the most vital issue for freedom of speech online and should be at the top of any writer’s agenda. Most don’t even know what that means (it’s that the fastest broadband speeds might be chargeable at a rate well beyond small scale bloggers or individuals). If net neutrality is abandoned, individual voices will download so slowly that they would be unheard. This has huge implications for writers, yet in the writing community net neutrality is largely unspoken. The net has provided a level playing field for criticism and comment – anyone and everyone is entitled to their opinion – and that is one of its greatest strengths. We’re all (quite rightly) demonstrating about library closures but I worry that at this critical time in our history that many people are thrusting their heads into the sand rather than opening their eyes to what is happening – both in terms of opportunity and possibility and the actual structure that will contain us as an online community if we allow it to do so.

I didn’t expect to love being online as much as I do. I’ve met some wonderful people and discovered that however arcane some of my interests that there are people out there who are interested too. It’s also been a lesson in what my readership do and don’t like and what does and doesn’t work in terms of promoting my work. And best of all I’ve made some friends.
Sara Sheridan was born in Edinburgh and started writing full time in 1998 and the novel Truth or Dare was published. Sara is an active member of the Society of Authors and a supporter of the Scottish Book Trust. She has also co-written two short films, Fish Supper and The Window Bed in 2000, and ghost written many novels. In 2009 she turned to historical fiction with The Secret Mandarin. Early this year  Secret of the Sands, described as a sweeping epic novel, was published, and her children’s book, I’m Me! will be out March 201.

Contact Sara:
http://www.sarasheridan.com/
Twitter: @sarasheridan
Amazon for Secret of the Sands
And here for I’m Me! at Amazon

She was a slave. He was her master. Both of them long to be free! 1833 — The British Navy are conducting a survey of the Arabian Peninsula where slavery is as rife as ever despite being abolition. Zena, a headstrong and determined young Abyssinian beauty has been torn from her remote village, subjected to a tortuous journey and is now being offered for sale in the market of Muscat. Lieutenant James Wellstead is determined that his time aboard HMS Palinurus will be the conduit to fame and fortune. However, all his plans are thrown into disarray when two of his fellow officers go missing while gathering intelligence in the desert. By an unexpected twist of fate — Zena finds herself the property of Wellstead, now on a daring rescue mission into forbidding territory. Master and slave are drawn ever closer, but as danger faces them at every turn, they must endure heartache and uncertainty — neither of them knowing what fortune awaits them as they make their hazardous way through the shifting sands. A rich and epic novel that will appeal to fans of The Pirate’s Daughter and East of the Sun.
I’m not a princess, a pirate or a witch! I’M ME! Grown ups. Lovely Aunt Sara can pretend all she wants but Imogen doesn’t want to be a princess, a pirate or a witch. Not today. She wants to go to the park with her aunt and play with a ball, swing higher than a tree and eat ice-cream. And why not? This book is perfect for children who know their own minds \-and grown-ups who think they don’t.

Do you home-school your children? Then this series of books could be for you…

 Wright on Time Series
Children’s Author
Lisa M Cottrell-Bentley
 Do Life Right, Inc. 
specializing in homeschoolers of today.

The Wrights travel the USA in an RV. Each month brings them to a new state with a new educational theme to explore and play with. They prove that learning can happen all the time, anywhere, and that being with family is fun!
Meet Aidan, age 7: Boisterous and joking all the time, this sporty boy knows how to have fun! Meet Nadia, age 11: Curious and fiery, this intellectual girl can always find out answers to even the most difficult questions. Meet their parents: Harrison, a writer and linguist expert, and Stephanie, a telecommuting computer expert; ready to adventure with their children. Meet Prince Pumpkin III, turtle extraordinaire: This 50 year old little guy is holding on tight, as the family RV and a mysterious device take him on an adventure no turtle has ever gone on before. Explore an Arizona desert cave with the Wrights as they begin their trip. What will Aidan and Nadia discover? 


Wright on Time – Book 1: Utah.

Explore a dinosaur dig with the Wrights as they roadschool in Utah. What will Aidan and Nadia discover about the mysterious device they found in Arizona?

Wright on Time – Book 3: Wyoming.

Join Aidan and Nadia as they continue their roadschooling adventures in Wyoming! The Wright family visits geysers, tours a hydroelectric plant, flies in a private plane, visits a wind farm, and more! What will they find and what will they learn about their mysterious Time Tuner?

 

Lisa M. Cottrell-Bentley is the author of the Wright on Time series of children’s chapter books. This fiction series is about the Wright family, an RV-living, homeschooling family who travels the USA. Each book is in a different state with a different fun and educational theme.
The first is Wright on Time: Arizona, second Wright on Time: Utah, and third Write on Time: Wyoming. The fourth will be out this spring.

Lisa is also the owner of the Do Life Right, Inc. publishing company, specializing in books for and about realistic homeschoolers of today. She lives in southern Arizona with her husband, and two always-homeschooled daughters. Together they enjoy travelling, creating wild experiments, and celebrating life!

Click for the interview below:


What inspired you to write your books?
My children! When my oldest daughter was seven (she’s now 14.5), she was very frustrated with all the chapter books and short novels she’d been reading. They were school-centric and featured characters who were mean to each other and who had parents who were either absent or dead. As a homeschooler, she wasn’t able to relate to those types of characters. Since I was already a writer (and had several novels under my belt) I was inspired to write my daughter’s ultimate dream series. After months of long conversations with her, my younger daughter, and my husband, the Wright on Time series was born.

What is the series about? 
The Wright on Time series are children’s chapter books geared toward children ages 5-12 and their parents. With a mysterious and sci-fi overall story arc (throughout the 50-book series), the family is in a different state for each book and learns about a new topic. The children, Aidan and Nadia, start out the series as 7 and 11 year olds. Each book makes them one month older. The first book, set in Arizona, finds the family exploring a salted cave. The second book, set in Utah, finds the family on a real-life Allosaurus dinosaur dig. The third book, set in Wyoming, has the family exploring various types of alternate energies. The fourth book, set in South Dakota, has the family at the Sturgis Motorcycle Rally and exploring how newspapers are printed.

Was there anything you struggled with?
All of the Wright on Time characters have been natural and easy for me to write. I can’t say the same for my adult novels; some of them I am still struggling with! The Wright family is similar to my own family in many ways and we all talk about them as if they were real people, so it’s easy for me to instinctively understand their reactions to the situations they get into.

How many unpublished books do you have lurking under your bed?
None under my physical bed, but… I have about a dozen novel length works written which aren’t published. Most are women’s fiction, mostly speculative fiction. I also have several more Wright on Time books that aren’t published yet, but they definitely will be! 🙂 My head is full of ideas for many more books.

What is Rich Author, Poor Writer all about?
“Rich Author, Poor Writer” is a soon-to-be published non-fiction book about the various options available in the publishing world today, how to pick which option(s) are best for each individual author and their situation, and how to actually make money with writing.

How did you find your publisher? How do they treat you? Would you recommend them?
Since I own my publishing company, Do Life Right, Inc., I think it is fantastic and I highly recommend them! We specialize in books about realistic homeschoolers of today. We offer our books in print, e-formats, and are about to branch into audio and foreign translations. We give our authors a higher percentage than most publishing companies and we work hard to match each book with the right editors and illustrators for that particular project.

What’s the best/worst part of being a writer?
Goodness! I love everything about being an author. I love the ideas and sharing them with others. I love talking with fans and other authors. I love it all!

What is the most productive time of the day for you to write?
I do my best work late at night when the house is really quiet. I also enjoy brainstorming with my family while on long walks, swimming together, or on long trips (which we go on several times a year).

Do you start your projects writing with paper and pen or is it all on the computer
It depends. I usually get a spark of a new story idea when I’m either driving, on a long walk, dreaming (day or night), or otherwise out and about. When that happens, I try to find a bit of paper to write down the spark, but I always flesh it all out on my computer. I keep a small notebook with me in my purse just for such instances. I can type significantly faster than I can write by hand, so I definitely prefer typing.

What/who do you draw inspiration from?
Everything! I consider everything in life to be a source of inspiration, but I particularly appreciate the insights that my kid-friends give me.
Kids have a unique way of looking at the world that many adults have become skeptical of.

Do you set yourself goals when you sit down to write such as word count?
Only when I have a deadline. Since I write a lot of non-fiction articles, I’m often on deadlines for those. I also have deadlines for the writing that I edit, too, so I try not to limit my own fiction writing.

What are you working on now that you can talk about?
WRIGHT ON TIME: SOUTH DAKOTA, BOOK 4 is in its last stages of being edited.
We’re also in the process of starting WRIGHT ON TIME: MINNESOTA, BOOK 5’s illustrations and editing process (the manuscript is written). This is a particularly fun stage for me, since the illustrations really bring my characters to life.
I’m even more excited about the other books my publishing company, Do Life Right, Inc. is publishing in 2011. Overseeing the publishing process is extremely rewarding.

How do/did you deal with rejection letters?
I was really excited when I received rejection letters that had actual comments and suggestions. I actually used the information in those to start my publishing company, Do Life Right, Inc. It was with those reasons why I rejected that I was able to secure monies from an angel investor to start my company. Publishers were not interested in publishing manuscripts with homeschoolers as the primary characters, nor did they want manuscripts where parents were actively involved in their children’s lives. I used that information to my advantage and have a ready-made market of the 2.2+ million homeschooling families who live in the United States who aren’t being reached by traditional publishers.

Do you have a critique partner?
I’ve been in a variety of critique groups over the years. I currently have a group of teen readers who read my manuscripts. In addition to them, I have two critique partners that I couldn’t live without. I believe that it is really valuable to have trusted writer friends who give you honest and informative feedback about your writing.

Contacts:

The Wrenolds of Elm Tree Cottage: Author Joanna Cook tells …

an enchanting tale about a bird community that blends fiction with aviary facts.

The Wrenolds of Elm Tree Cottage
Author and illustrator – Joanna Cook

Do you know what a wren is? If you said it’s a bird, you’re correct! Mr. and Mrs. Wrenolds, who are wrens, have returned to Elm Tree Cottage.

Mr. Wrenolds performs his annual ritual of finding seven prospective residences from which Mrs. Wrenolds will choose. For the past several years, they have lived in the tulip tree, but due to winter ice storms, part of it is gone.
Grandma Wrenolds wants to try the oak tree, but Mrs. Wrenolds decides to go back to the tulip tree. They meet all their old friends from the cottage yard, Mr. and Mrs. Robinson, Axel B. Jaymes, Tony and Mary Hummingway, Alfred Ousley, and Sir Al Cardin.
Will the tulip tree prove satisfactory when the Wrenolds’ two children, Jake and Jackie, come along? And what will they all do when a tornado happens through?

Many early readers have predictable stories, however, this bright and cheerful book looks to be a delightful change. Youngsters will be fascinated by Joanna Cook’s easy-to-read tale and colourful drawings that brings the bird community to life. Kids will enjoy reading about the characteristics and habits of the various kinds of birds including wrens, robins, blue jays, hummingbirds, blackbirds and cardinals.
Not just for bird lovers, but for pure enjoyment too. Look out for the sequels to follow the adventures of Mr and Mrs Wrenold.
Joanna Cook, author and illustrator of The Wrenolds of Elm Tree Cottage is a resident of Joplin, Missouri, which is in the Southwestern part of the state. She recently retired after teaching elementary music in the Joplin School District for 32 years.
Joanna earned a Bachelor’s in Music from Missouri Southern State University and a Master’s in Music from Pittsburg State University. She has been writing children’s stories and musical plays for over 25 years. She loves running and walking, reading, drawing and painting, and playing the piano. She is the organist at her church.
The Wrenolds of Elm Tree Cottage is the first book in a series of children’s books.
Click below for the interview:
My inspiration was my love of writing and love of nature. My children’s book is about birds, so I tried to combine my interest in birds with a tale that was able to teach children aviary facts and facts about animal behaviour. I have always been intrigued with birds. Both my parents gave me a deep regard and appreciation of nature, but my mother loved birds. She would watch the birds and wonder if they were the same families that would migrate to our house each year. I really enjoy watching and feeding the birds in my backyard.
I am also very interested in the part birdsong plays in the composing of many famous composers’ music.  Haydn and Mozart, among others, drew much inspiration from birds for their compositions. I am doing presentations with the book at schools and at our Audubon Center. We will also help the children make wren houses after the presentation.
So what is The Wrenolds of Elm Tree Cottage all about?
The Wrenolds of Elm Tree Cottage is the first book in a series that is a whimsical tale blended with facts about birds and animal behaviour. This early reader is intended for ages 7-11, or grades 3-6.
I wondered, because your drawings aren’t dissimilar from the great Beatrix Potter, did she inspire you in any way?
I have a great regard for Beatrix Potter. She was a very talented and resourceful woman. I also like William Steig’s humor, and Arnold Lobel’s art and stories. But  I am inspired most from nature and how it is a reflection of human life. I get inspiration from reading about other authors and how they have gone about their writing.
How many will there be in the entire series?
I am not sure how many books will be in the series, yet, but I have hopes for at least 4 more. I also have written a story about a boy who grows up during the Civil War era. His two older brothers enlist into the Confederate Army and he tries to find a way to get into a brigade even though he is under age. This story would be a chapter book as well and intended for about the same audience as the “Wrenolds “ series.
Was there a character you struggled with?
Yes. The character of Grandma Wrenolds. I knew how I wanted to develop her character in the story, but drawing and painting her was a challenge. I am able to more easily write a story, but I am finding the artwork is a very rewarding challenge. It’s nice to feel like you had command over the whole creation of the book. I do have trouble with human faces, but I guess that works fine if you are drawing from a bird’s perspective.
How did you find your publisher? Would you recommend them?I researched publishers using “The Writer’s Market.” I spent a lot of time at the library going through it to find children’s publishers that were accepting new manuscripts. Mirror Publishing was one mentioned and I sent off a synopsis to them. I was really excited when they phoned and told me they thought it was a “neat concept.” Yes, personally, they have been great to work with.
What’s the best/worst part of being a writer?I enjoy all aspects, but the most surprising part was finding how much work it is to market your book. Also, since I am the illustrator of my books, sometimes it is a challenge to depict the artwork with a particular part of the story. I have redrawn and painted some illustrations as many as 6 times, only to find at the very end I made a mistake and needed to start all over. The artwork has been the biggest challenge but also it is very rewarding. There is some experimentation at first as to what watercolour paper to use, what colors will transmit electronically, etc.
What is the most productive time of the day for you to write?
The most productive time of the day for me is early in the morning when my mind is not as cluttered from the day’s activities. I like to run or walk in the mornings, then come home and start my projects. Being outside helps me sort out things.
Do you start your projects writing with paper and pen or is it all on the computer?
I always write my stories down on paper first. After a time to reflect, I add or take away until I am satisfied. Then I transfer it to the computer so I can e-mail it to my publisher.
Do you set yourself goals when you sit down to write such as word count?
No, I really don’t set goals for word count. I just keep writing until it seems I need to start a new chapter or some new developments.
What are you working on now that you can talk about?
My second book in the series is what I am working on now. It is longer than the first book, “The Wrenolds of Elm Tree Cottage” and will be a chapter book.
How do/did you deal with rejection letters?
My first attempt at sending out manuscripts was in 1989. I was really disappointed when I sent it to 4 publishers and didn’t have good news from any of them. But I will have to say that I didn’t do any research back then to find out who was accepting new manuscripts. I just copied publishers’ names and addresses and sent them out. After those 4 attempts, I put the book up and thought someday I would try again. This time (over 20 years later) I was better informed about the publishing business.
Do you have a critique partner?
No, not a formal critique partner. I use my family for a sounding board and later to help with some of the editing.

Contacts:

The Starlight Prince by Borislava Borissova

“If the human’s world becomes boring, you have the sky.”

A young boy lived alone on his tiny planet at the end of the Sagittarius galaxy. On his trips to other celestial spheres, he had seen that there were no lonely stars in the universe and even the most powerful one, the sun in the neighbouring Milky Way galaxy, had a friend – Nemesis. In a search for his first friend, The Starlight Prince caught a passing comet and, deluged by a haze of star-dust, entered the solar system.

Landing on the planet Earth he found himself on an unbelievably beautiful island. There, at the Valley of the Temples, the ancient Olympic Gods had been spending their summer rests for millennia. Far above the tree tops and hidden by the clouds, The Prince noticed The Little Olympic God who according to the Olympic allocation of duties was responsible for friendships.

Amazed by his divine work destined to inspire friendliness in humans, the celestial boy was sure that The Little God could help him, too. Trying to face him in person, The Starlight Prince remained on Earth. He followed a young teen company and took part of their unusual experience in an ancient Castle. This beautiful building claimed it functioned as a hotel but after their arrival to spend their vacation there it became the strangest hotel in the world with mysterious inhabitants, history, and secrets.

A great Master of magic was trying to harness the nature elements to become immortal as prescribed in a magical manuscript written long ago by the Olympic Gods. This text was given to the Little God of friendships for safekeeping.

During the long adventure the lonely celestial boy found his first friend, The Little Olympic God.

This delightlful young adult fiction “The Starlight Prince” is Borislava Borissova’s first published book, and like most YA books adults will also enjoy reading The Starlight Prince.
In words of the author: “It is a lifeboat for everybody who loves to be drawn from everyday life in the free time and yearns to sink emotionally in another world when the reality is not enough.”

Although Borislava considers herself a writer she has been working as a Recruiter in Human Resources for years in Sofia, in the heart of Balkan Peninsula. In her free time, history as well as writing is an important passion in her life and she is more than happy to share both.

Her second book “Affairs of the Heart” will be published in 2011. They are two novellas – contemporary love drama “The Last Secrets of The Ancient Island” and historical love drama “A Love In A Time of Wars”.

Click below for the interview:

What inspired you to write your book?
Night hours! I like them when the Earth – my home-planet – sleeps profoundly and a new world, the one of the stars, wakes up in the sky above my head. Today information about them, about many galaxies is available on the Internet. I was always curious about the comparison between our Milky Way and the other galaxies. I wonder what would be a usual day for us at the neighbor Sagittarius galaxy if we live there. And the opposite, if we were Sagittarians, how we would feel starting a journey to the unknown planet Earth? How would a starry boy feel if he falls on the Earth and what would be the mix of the past, presence and future of our world for him…

What is it about?
Magical realism, a fiction, purposed for teens but I hope that all people with great imagination would love it. It is a lifeboat for everybody who loves to be drawn from everyday life in the free time and yearns to sink emotionally in another world when the reality is not enough.

Was there a character you struggled with?
Not exactly, The Starlight Prince had always drawn me. I loved to work over the character and the plot; I was thirsty to finish it; and to bring it to the world one day. Now the last sentence is written, the pages are wrapped with beautiful covers in warm colors… but I miss the hours when I was sitting behind my laptop and going with my hero on his next adventure… There is a sense of sadness that the journey is over.

I am content that my imagination has created my heroes. They keep a very friendly company of mine during the long hours of writing.

http://rcm.amazon.com/e/cm?t=wiswor0a-21&o=1&p=8&l=bpl&asins=0984547010&fc1=000000&IS2=1&lt1=_blank&m=amazon&lc1=0000FF&bc1=000000&bg1=FFFFFF&f=ifrHow many unpublished books do you have lurking under your bed?
Affairs of The Heart will be my second published book. There are two novellas, the contemporary love drama “The last secrets of the ancient island” and the historical love drama “A Love in Time of Wars”.

“The Last Secrets of The Ancient Island” is a story, which starts with loneliness and the fears of loneliness that can change our world with the same strength as strong love or hatred. Series of collisions and mishaps in an old town drives each of main characters under suspicion. There is an unknown driver, who has a tragically motivation to take his with others life. At the end with the unveiling the last mysteries of ancient sights unexplored in full by historians and archaeologists, it will be also clear that we were born alone, we die alone but life is our chance to live in love. If possible… or if we so wish…

“A Love in Time of Wars” happens in the beginning of 20 century. Sofia and Istanbul are scenes where passion, hatred, love and great efforts for peace changes everyone’s life of the two nations. On the ground of all differences in cultures, religions, languages, traditions and so on, a young Bulgarian girl and a Turkish officer know how to prevail over all borderlines between them.

The wars becomes past, the past becomes history, only love is still alive in a tale, very beautiful tale to remember them.

How did you find your publisher? How do they treat you? Would you recommend them?
Rose Heart Publishing is my publisher and I am happy to be their author! Till you find someone to believe in you and your works you may feel both hopeless and bored. The easy roads were already occupied and for me there was just one road left, the more difficult one.

One day I have found Rose Heart Publishing and I feel sincere gratitude to their team for the friendship and appreciation of my writing!

I also often receive compliments for their cover of my The Starlight Prince. It is very beautiful, indeed and sometimes people surprise me leaving a few words on my page at Facebook and even to my email using http://www.amazon.com how much they like it.

What’s the best/worst part of being a writer?
I consider myself a writer by soul because, although I have been working as a Recruiter in the field of Human Resources for years, at home in Sofia, my native city in the heart of Balkan peninsula, in my free time, history and writing are the important passions of my life. It is the best to share both of them with readers.

The worst is “to write or not to write”; “to start a new book or never start a new book”… such moments always can happen. But I believe that when one loves to do something – to climb mountains, to play a game soccer or to write – he or she just does it because of the pleasure and despite the result. Of course, there is also thought about success in everyone.

What is the most productive time of the day for you to write?
Perhaps night hours but I have no choice, if I find a little time for writing I do it. Being a professional HR I need to steal some free time to be a writer as well.

Do you start your projects writing with paper and pen or is it all on the computer?
I always have paper and a pen with me. I collect stories that impress me, the ones that I would not forget for a long time. Loving historical themes I also need strong research before I would be able to sit down behind my laptop because I like to be very accurate in historical references. Therefore I can never say “I have written it for a few months” because much time before the beginning I am used to taking some notes about heroes, dialogue, scenes that come in use in the process of writing. Usually a story “lives” in my mind for several years and all it starts with the notes on the papers, which I take out one day with the thought “I am ready to write it’ and turn on my computer.

What/who do you draw inspiration from?
Books and movies are inspiriting me and I perceive them as a specific channel of communication with their authors. I love interesting stories and legends, adventures that take us through the ages and help us to experience countless earthly and celestial places… I love Sofia, Sicily, Istanbul, Rome, Seville, London… the towns like museums under open sky, I like discovering these scenes of legends and secrets, history, journeys, culture, and ancient remains.

Do you set yourself goals when you sit down to write such as word count?
No. The important is whether I said everything that I wanted despite how many words I used for the purpose. After the completion of a story I need two-three months before starting its editing and sometimes it takes much time, perhaps as long as writing a new story. Therefore the word count put on the white paper in any evening or afternoon means nothing. The edit process could revise it in full.

What are you working on now that you can talk about?
“Somewhere Aroud Us”, a historical fiction. Here is its resume:

Italian ambassador, 40 years old Count Giovanni Di Castellano breaks all the rules of his world when in New York in the 1930s he meets Sofiana Assenova, an opera-star at “La Scala”. After two years of efforts, Giovanni and Sofiana succeed in obtaining permission for marriage from the Italian King Victor Emanuel the Third and from Vatican in spite of the protests of the Di Castellano family, because she is divorced and of Bulgarian origin.

She gives up her brilliant career and is converted to Roman Catholic religion. Count Di Castellano works in Paris, Moscow, London, Morocco and Rome. He is viewed as a Don Quixotte by political circles of that time. After his resignation, the couple returns to Sicily.

After the death of Count Di Castellano, Sofiana finds herself in Sicilian mental home and tries to understand what has happened with her and why. Seven years later she is saved with great difficulties and being treated in a catholic monastery before finding the path back to her grown-up son.
http://www.scribd.com/BORISLAVA_BORISSOVA

How do/did you deal with rejection letters?
In the past I asked very often myself: “Why don’t they feel my stories? Why don’t they accept them?” Of course, I know it is business but I think the rules of its business are very unfair for the beginning authors. There are many talented people, who have what to say, to give to the readers but no one would like to afford their books a chance. In recent days Internet changes it a bit and I am sure it is for better.

Sometimes I think that I am lucky to be part of the Internet generation and 40-50 years ago my initiative would have been an inanity, and the book would have been left in a cupboard at home without a chance for publication or being read by someone some time.

Do you have a critique partner?
My friends, they are my first readers and critics, well-wishers but critics.

Contacts:
http://borislavaborissova.quenit.com/author.html
http://www.roseheartbooks.com/borislava.html
Paperback and Kindle format of Starlight Prince
http://borislavaborissova.quenit.com/books/the-starlight-prince.html

Children’s Author – Who can resist the Penny and Rio collection?

Penny and Rio Series
by
Jennifer Swanson
children’s author
Follow the intrepid canine detectives, Penny and Rio as they solve crimes and go on adventures right from their own backyard.
Children will love the ingenious antics these two dogs exhibit as they sniff, dig, and paw their way through mysteries and exciting capers only a dog could unravel.
 
 In these award-winning books, kids will delight as they discover the real meaning behind your dog’s escapades in the backyard.  
Maybe your dog is not digging up a bone, but a secret treasure or has been asked to help another dog friend find a lost object.
These imaginative and interactive books provide exceptional learning opportunites for young chidren. For more information and to purchase your own copy today, please see the website at www.pennyandrio.com.

Hannah (the gorgeous dog) is the star in the third
book in the Penny and Rio series.
A graduate of the U. S. Naval Academy, Jennifer Swanson’s lifelong interest in books led her to become a children’s author. Her award-winning books about Penny and Rio, the dynamic canine detectives, have delighted children across the country.
All three books in her Penny and Rio series, Penny and Rio: The Mysterious Backyard Meeting, Penny and Rio: The Locked Doghouse Mystery and Penny and Rio: The Diamond Collar Adventure have been awarded the prestigious Mom’s Choice Award for juvenile fiction. In addition, the first two books have also received The Dove Foundation’s Family Approved Seal for excellence in family-friendly media.
The pet detectives have also gone international! The Penny and Rio books have been translated into Thai and are currently being sold in Thailand. They are also being distributed in France through Mariposa Press.
Jennifer’s second love is science and she has managed to combine that with her passion for writing. Possessing an M.S. Ed. in K-8 science, Jennifer has utilized her science background to author two non-fiction books for Capstone Press to be released in fall 2011. She has also recently signed a contract with Red Line Editorial to write five non-fiction picture books for their latest “How To…” series.
Jennifer is currently employed as a middle school science instructor for Johns Hopkins University’s Center for Talented Youth and is an active member of the Society for Children’s Book Writer’s and Illustrators, and actively supports dog rescue organizations with the proceeds from her books. 
“I can Highly Recommend this cute dog detective series to all families, escpecially animal lovers. The Mysterious Backyard Meeting and The Locked Doghouse Mystery will keep your children happily engaged and may even inspire them to write their own stories about their pets. We can’t wait until the next installment of the Penny and Rio series comes out.” – Jenny Thompson, The Old Schoolhouse Magazine, Oct, 2010

Click below for the interview:

What inspired you to write your book?
The two main characters in my books are based on my own pets, Penny and Rio. They were very curious, energetic dogs and did a lot of stuff in real-life that they did in my books. They just seemed to make perfect characters.

What is it about?
I have a series of three books titled: Penny and Rio. They follow the antics and investigations of two canine detectives, Penny and Rio as they solve cases and go on adventures right from their own backyard. These award-winning early chapter books are perfect for children just graduating from picture books to chapter books. They include very colourful illustrations along with the advanced text in a chapter book.

Was there a character you struggled with?
Not really. I take a lot of the other animal characters from other dogs I’ve met in my life.

How many unpublished books do you have lurking under your bed?
Too many to count. No seriously, I have several mid-grade novels and about six or so picture books. Plus, of course several more Penny and Rio stories.

How did you find your publisher? How do they treat you? Would you recommend them?
I found Mirror Publishing through the internet. I sent them a copy of Penny and Rio: The Mysterious Backyard Meeting, the first in the series and they loved it. It has been great working with Neal, the publisher. I would highly recommend his company. He runs a first-rate, professional business and is fun to work with, too.

What’s the best/worst part of being a writer? Being stuck in front of a computer all the time is the worst part. Actually, I enjoy writing, but I love doing school visits even more. Sharing Penny and Rio with students and teaching them the excitement of reading and writing is awesome!

What is the most productive time of the day for you to write? I write while my kids are in school. I try to write every day, even if it’s only a sentence or two. Because when they get home, I have to put my “Mom” hat on.

Do you start your projects writing with paper and pen or is it all on the computer
Sometimes I brainstorm a new book with pen and paper. When I’m trying to put together a new storyline, I’m never without a notebook. Soccer games, lacrosse practice, you name it, I’ve got my notebook.

What/who do you draw inspiration from?
As I tell the students on a school visit, from life all around me. I see characters in animals, people and even situations that happen to me. Didn’t William Shakespeare say “All the world’s a stage?” Well to me, all the world is a book, waiting to be written.

Do you set yourself goals when you sit down to write such as word count? Some days I do, but not always. If I’m trying to meet a deadline, then definitely. Otherwise, I just write as long as the words flow.

What are you working on now that you can talk about?
Right now I’m in the middle of a five book nonfiction picture book series. My “day” job is as a middle school science teacher, so I have a lot of experience with science. I love being able to combine my love of science with writing. Of course, I also have a mid-grade novel series I’m writing as well.

How do/did you deal with rejection letters?
Better than I used to. I used to be depressed for a couple of days. Now when I get one, I send out three more submissions. A rejection letter is great motivation for me these days.

Do you have a critique partner?
Yes, I actually run a small critique group. I am very lucky to have found five other women who share my love of writing and have a strong desire to be published. We critique, challenge, but most of all support each other in this tumultuous writing journey. I highly recommend finding a critique group if you aren’t already in one.

Thanks for inviting me to stop by, Louise. It’s been great.

CONTACTS:

Win a signed book of Princess & Missy’s Magical Adventures

by
Michelle Nicole Martin
Princess and Missy’s Magical Adventures is an excellent children’s book that teaches the importance of faith amidst adversity. Children learn that they can overcome even the worst of situations as long as they remain positive and believe that they are strong enough to do so. This book is perfect for children/parents who are looking for a sweet story that touches on the issues of grief or any of life’s struggles.

The story follows Princess — a young poodle with a loving spirit who’s “cute, chubby and short”, after she finds herself homeless one day after her family suddenly disappears. Follow her on a journey through an enchanted forest full of wonderful surprises.

Share her excitement when she meets Missy, the magical butterfly who gives Princess the Crystal Heart and asks for Princess’ help to accomplish her important work. Will Missy and Princess be able to overcome the wicked plans of Jaith the Joy Stealer? Find out as Princess and her new friends set forth on a magical adventure!

“The lesson I am trying to convey,” says author Martin, “is even if all seems lost, when you walk through the pain, unexpected gifts and inner strength appear.”

Kinra’s illustrations embellish this message in Martin’s text with their simple, aesthetic images that quickly catch children’s attention while still conveying the emotion and character of the story. Richa Kinra is the internationally published illustrator of children’s books.

If you’ve been searching for the perfect children’s book that helps bridge the communication gap in discussing things like homelessness, getting/being lost, or the importance of friendship, you have found the perfect story that makes it easier to discuss these issues and many others.

You and your children are sure to love this perfect children’s book for many years ahead. We’re even offering the ability to Preview Princess and Missy’s Magical Adventures online for FREE and if you don’t like it, there’s no risk on your part! What have you got to lose?

Hello everyone! Thank you Louise for this time on your blog. I appreciate it.

Click for the interview:

Hi, Michelle and welcome to Wise Words. Let’s start at the beginning, what inspired you to write?
I have been inspired to write since I was a child. My grandma Imogene was a writer and editor. She always wanted to write a novel, but never did. I guess I have her passion for writing in my blood. At thirteen years old, I became interested in writing poetry. I started writing children’s stories when I was thirty one years old. I also do a lot of journaling. I was working on my autobiography, but I haven’t decided if I will ever publish that. I love writing. I especially like when fresh ideas come to my mind.

Tell us a little about your main character? Is she someone you’d like to meet?
My main character Princess is partly real and fantasy. I once had a dog named Princess. She is my character in the book. One of my friends brought her to me. Princess was wondering the streets in the rain. I tried finding her home, but I didn’t have any success. So, I adopted her and I thought up things she might say. I also made her a hero in the book.

Can we have a snippet from the book?
In the beginning of the book, there is a poem dedicated to all children and to the readers. Princess and Missy’s Magical Adventures is a chapter book. It is about fantasy, but also has realistic problems that people face these days.

Princess loses her family and becomes homeless. She is scared, but fights her fears by loving others. She helps Nicole find her way home. She then saves two children’s lives. Princess has a big heart. Missy, a magical butterfly has been watching her. Missy appears and rewards Princess with a necklace that has magical powers. Princess meets the other animals in the enchanted forest. They go on adventures and help people. Will they overcome Jaith the Joy Stealer’s wicked plans?

How many unpublished books do you have lurking under your bed?
As far as children’s stories, I have about 12 unpublished books. There are five pictures books that I have had Louise Munroe Foley (children’s author) edit. I have also written the second and third series of Princess and Missy’s Magical Adventures. I also have a book of poetry. I have a collection of short pieces that maybe one day will become a story of my life.

How did you find the publisher/agent?
I self-published my first book. I also don’t have an agent at this time. I am basically just starting out. I attended the 26th Annual Writing Conference in San Louis Obispo this past summer. I learned how to write proper query letters. After my book tour is over, I will be working on trying to get an agent. The journey has been hard at times. It has also been beautiful. Writing has impacted my life in a wonderful way. It has also helped put a smile on someone’s face or helped them in one way or another.

How do your juggle a writing schedule with real-life work, or are you a full time writer?
I don’t have a regular job. I write as much as I can. I have obtained a business license for entertaining children. I learned a few magic tricks. I take a balloon twisting class. In the beginning of the year, I will start taking keyboard classes. I wanted to combine those skills along with my reading stories. I haven’t decided when this will take place. The name of the business is Aaaaaaabsoultely Magical Kid Parties.

What’s the best/worst part of being a writer?
There are two things main reasons why I love to write. When inspiration comes to my mind, I feel free and so alive. I love when I start a new project. Fresh ideas come to me and it awakens my soul. The other reason why I love to write is that I like sharing my stories with both children and adults. Many people have told me that they love the way I write. There have been many occasions when a child reads my book. Later I find out that they hated reading, but they like reading my stories. People have also asked me, “When is this book going to become a movie? Every time I get a compliment on my writing, it brightens my day.

What is the most productive time of the day for you to write?
The time I write varies from day to day. I do some volunteering and I try helping people whenever I can. I also have a lot of errands to do for my business. I usually write in the afternoon or later at night.

Do you start your projects writing with paper and pen or is it all on the computer?
Wherever I go, I bring a journal and pens. I usually start a project in my journal. I then finish my work on my computer at home.


What/who do you draw inspiration from?
Inspiration comes to me in so many different ways. There has been a time that someone smiled at me. Then a light bulb came on and I started writing a story. A couple times when I was driving or on a road trip, images entered my mind. I have many friends. Some of them are unusual and that helps me greatly with ideas. Other times, I am outside in nature. I feel the sun on my face and then I just start writing. Sometimes I don’t know what I am going to write until I have the pen in my hand. I love the power of the pen.

Do you set yourself goals when you sit down to write such as word count?
I don’t worry too much about word count. I write as much as I can. Some days, I can write all day long. Other times are short and brief. Every day is a different day.

Are you a published or a self-published author and how do you come up with your cover art?
So far, I am only a self published author. I found a beautiful illustrator, Richa Kinra for my first book. I posted an add on craigslist. She emailed me. I looked at her work and I was amazed at how much detail she puts in each picture. Richa lives in India. I enjoyed working with her.

What are you working on now that you can talk about?
Right now, I have been working on my Virtual Book Tour. When I am not doing that, I am journaling or writing poetry. I hope to find an agent this year. I will be putting a lot of energy into accomplishing this goal.


How do/did you deal with rejection letters?
Receiving rejection letters has been difficult for me. My mentor Don has told me many stories of how a writer had to submit many manuscripts. They never gave up and eventually became famous. I have hope in my heart that this will happen to me to.

What’s your advice about getting an agent?
I don’t have an agent yet, so I am not the best person to answer this question. I learned in writing workshops to tailor the query letter to each agent. I was also taught to do research and figure out who would be the best agent for you.

Do you have a critique partner?
Yes, I have two. I went to a children’s writing workshop several years ago. I pay the teacher to edit my work. I also have a mentor that helps me.

Thank you so much for your time! I hope your 2011 is as sweet as heaven.

http://rcm.amazon.com/e/cm?t=wiswor0a-21&o=1&p=8&l=bpl&asins=1432749544&fc1=000000&IS2=1&lt1=_blank&m=amazon&lc1=0000FF&bc1=000000&bg1=FFFFFF&f=ifrThank you Michelle, it’s been a pleasure. Readers, I have a SIGNED copy of Princess and Missy’s Magical Adventure on my desk. It is a beautifully written book, and the illustrations are wonderful. There is even a little game at the end of the book for the children to play.

In order to WIN the copy (and I only have one, so there will be only one winner) please answer in the comment section something heroic that your canine little friend has done (or feline, I’m not animalist!). Keep it short and snappy, and leave your email address so you can be contacted for shipping details if you win. I will invite an author already featured on my blog to judge the winner. 
Contest ends 5th Feb 2011

Contact:
http://outskirtspress.com/princessandmissy

Children’s author Tommy Batchelor with

LOST ON SPIRIT RIVER
SPIRIT RIVER TRILOGY
BOOK 1

Thirteen-year-old Tony’s parents are in the middle of divorce, his mother sends him to his Grandpa’s along the banks of the Flint River in Southwestern Georgia. With his younger cousin Kathryn, they set out to look for a Christmas tree for the holidays, along with Grandpa’s aging beagle, Sally. The three become lost in a snowstorm, which has not hit Georgia in three hundred years. Finding shelter in a hidden cave, stumbling upon Native American art. Now the adventure begins…
In Lost on Spirit River, author Tommy Batchelor has written an entertaining young-adult novel with a multi-pronged message. He uses suspense and adventure to capture his audience’s attention.
The dialogue is crisp…The characters are well developed… Readers glimpse the spirit world of ancient native tribes in a way that will stir imaginations…
Kim Reale’s illustrations solidify the images already created by Batchelor’s exceptional ability to describe scenes and setting. Highly Recommended by William Potter for Reader’s Choice Book Reviews.

Click for the interview:

What is Lost of Spirit River all about? Can you tell us a little more about its genre?
Lost on Spirit River is a fiction book for boys and girls ages nine to fourteen. The plot is centered on cousins Tony and Kathryn. While out looking for a Christmas tree for Grandpa’s cabin and family holiday, they become lost in a snowstorm that is the first to hit southwestern Georgia in over three hundred years. Aided by Sally, Grandpa’s aging beagle, the three find shelter in a cave. Finding Native American art on the walls, now the adventure really begins.

What gave you the incentive to write this book?
I’ve always had the love of outdoor adventures. Camping and fishing along the shores of the Flint River in Central Georgia. I wanted my Grandchildren to know and love the same things I was able to do as a young man.


Can you sum Lost on Spirit River in one sentence?
Lost on Spirit River is full of action, adventure and Native American spirits with a multi- pronged message.


Have your characters or writing been inspired by friends/family or by real-life experiences?
Actually, all three. Tony was one of my best friends in school, we worked together at the same place and we both had a love for fishing and camping on the Flint River. We even double dated sisters at one time. A little over a year and half out of school he was killed in a freak auto accident. Kathryn comes from my own daughter; she’s my baby girl and only child. I had to include her into my book.


http://rcm.amazon.com/e/cm?t=wiswor0a-21&o=1&p=8&l=bpl&asins=1936352990&fc1=000000&IS2=1&lt1=_blank&m=amazon&lc1=0000FF&bc1=000000&bg1=FFFFFF&f=ifrWhat is your favourite scene in your book? Can we have a snippet?
 I have quite a few favorites, here’s one…

Busy conducting their search, neither Tony nor Kathryn noticed a small shift in the wind out of the north, nor did they detect that the temperature slowly fell a couple degrees.
“This one is the perfect one, don’t you think Tony?” suggested Kathryn.
“I don’t like it,” Tony shot back at her, not even turning back to look at the tree.
“It’s starting to get cooler, and all I have with me is this light jacket,” Kathryn said, pulling her jacket tighter around her.
“Well, you shouldn’t have come with me. I don’t need your help,” Tony said quickly, heading between the
trees. Hugging herself to keep warm, Kathryn told him, “Grandpa asked me to come with you; it wasn’t my idea. Besides, why are you so angry at everyone all the time?”
“I’m not,” she heard him reply through the trees.
“Yes, you are. Quit barking at me. I didn’t do anything to you, and neither did anyone else. Mr. High-And-Mighty doesn’t need anybody’s help,” she scolded him.

Growing up in central Georgia gave Author Tommy Batchelor many outdoor adventures either in the woods or along the banks of the Flint River. “Lost on Spirit River”, is Book 1 of the Spirit River Trilogy and Tommy’s first Middle grade fiction for ages 9 – 14. Tommy’s first published book, Sunday’s with Papa T, A River Adventure, for ages 5 – 8 is a 28 page Picture Book. He resides in Middle Georgia with his wife, Cathy. Contact the Author at tombatch50@gmail.com

http://rcm.amazon.com/e/cm?t=wiswor0a-21&o=1&p=8&l=bpl&asins=0981752152&fc1=000000&IS2=1&lt1=_blank&m=amazon&lc1=0000FF&bc1=000000&bg1=FFFFFF&f=ifrDo you have an agent, or have you gone alone?
No, I don’t have an agent, but if one is interested in me or my book I’m listening. In self-publishing, Mirror did my first book, which was a picture book, “Sunday’s with Papa T, A River Adventure”, I retain all rights, they are very good to work for and if at any time a big name publishing companies wants my book, I can cancel anytime. No questions asked! Just do your research on self-publishing and go with the company that fits you and your book.

What marketing have you been doing to help sales?
Most of the marketing for my book has been done online and through friends and relatives. The VBT has been the most helpful so far! After the first of the year I’ll be getting into more book signing and Indie bookstores in the area.


How long does it take you to write a book?
Lost on Spirit River was written over a span of a week, the editing part took a lot longer. Well over 6 months. My first book, “Sunday with Papa T, A River Adventure”, a picture book for ages 5- 9 took us less than a year, which included illustrations.


Which comes first for you – characters or plot?
Characters have to come first for me. I developed the plot as I write the book. I knew the main players would be cousins, about the same age. The background for the story, none other than the Flint River area, them I sat down and wrote the book.


How did you get into writing? Did you always want to become a writer?
I actually didn’t want to become a writer until later in my life, at a younger age I was more of a reader. I grew up with books in the house at all times. I know I’ll never be able to write the great all-America novel. I want to write to entertain children and help non-readers pick up a book for the first time and read!


Are you working on another book? Possible to have a preview snippet or blurb of that?
Yes, I’m working on Book 2, of the Spirit River Trilogy. I seem to get more done on my books during the winter months; I don’t get much writing done in the warmer months. You’ll have to wait a little longer for a preview on Book 2.


What advice would you give aspiring authors?
It takes a lot of patience to be published or self-publish. The time it takes between a big publishing house and self-publishes yourself is the difference of years to months. Either way, when the day comes and your book arrives by mail. Holding it in your hands for the very first time, that’s when you realized a new book is born and it belong to you.


Would you buy a self-published book?
Since the day I published my first book, I find myself reading and buying more and more self-published books. I now know what these authors went through to get their books publishes and it’s a hard road against the big publishing companies. I recommend everyone read a self-publish author, there are a lot of good books to be read.

Contacts:
Author’s website: http://www.tommybatchelor.com/
Read first 16 pages of  Lost of Spirit River and purchase on Amazon or Barnes and Noble and many more online book stores. Or even contact Tommy Batchelor himself to buy a signed copy.

Children’s writer – Lynne North with Gertie Gets it Right (eventually).

http://rcm.amazon.com/e/cm?t=wiswor0a-21&o=1&p=8&l=bpl&asins=1849232318&fc1=000000&IS2=1&lt1=_blank&m=amazon&lc1=0000FF&bc1=000000&bg1=FFFFFF&f=ifr

Gertie Grimthorpe comes from a long line of witches. Unfortunately, she hasn’t really got the hang of it. Being blonde haired, blue eyed and free of warts isn’t much of an advantage. Try as she might, Gertie’s spells fall flat. She manages to give her bat-headed umbrella the ability to talk, but then wishes she hadn’t when all he does is complain and insult people. Even finding an owl to be her Familiar doesn’t help. Then again, he is extremely shortsighted…
Gertie is sent to The Academy to improve her spell casting skills. She soon has a best friend in the form of Bertha Bobbit, a big girl, with a matching appetite. Add to that a Moat Monster with a flatulence problem, the weirdest array of witch’s Familiars possible, and a warlock determined to ruin Gertie’s chances of success, and the story unfolds. Not to mention the demon…

A children’s sword and sorcery fantasy novel aimed at the nine years of age to mid teen market. Zac is a fifteen year old stable boy whose life is turned upside down when he finds himself in the midst of demons, magic and a perilous quest. The land around Albemerle castle is under attack, and the only hope of survival for Zac and the people he loves is to find the great wizard, Aldric. Men have already died trying. Strange dreams mark the beginning of Zac’s life changing events. Armed with a magic sword, ring and crystal, he sets out with a group of soldiers to find Aldric. Demon attack almost ends Zac’s quest as soon as it begins. Zac refuses to give up, and soon finds himself accompanied by unusual travelling companions. Many dangers bar their way. Only Zac’s determination and the unexpected help he receives can make it possible to find and free Aldric, and return for the final battle to save the land…

Lynne North lives in the north west of England and works as a data analyst for one of the local Health Authorities. She has been a prolific reader all through her life, and for many years has spent the majority of her free time writing. As well as being educated up to degree level, she has completed courses and received diplomas from ‘The Writing School Ltd’ and ‘The Academy of Children’s Writers.

Her aim in life has always been to write, and she’s had a sideline of freelance writing for many years. This has mainly involved published articles in such magazines as ‘Prediction’. She has also completed two children’s novels published in December’08 and is currently working on a fantasy novel for adults, and another very different children’s humorous fantasy.
What is ‘Gertie Gets it Right (eventually)’ all about? Can you tell us a little more about its genre?
Gertie Gets it Right (eventually) is a children’s humorous fantasy novel aimed at the eight years of age to young teen market.

Gertie Grimthorpe comes from a long line of witches. Unfortunately, she hasn’t really got the hang of it. Being blonde haired, blue eyed and free of warts isn’t much of an advantage. Try as she might, Gertie’s spells fall flat. She manages to give her bat-headed umbrella the ability to talk, but then wishes she hadn’t when all he does is complain and insult people. Even finding an owl to be her Familiar doesn’t help. Then again, he is extremely shortsighted… Gertie is sent to The Academy to improve her spell casting skills. She soon has a best friend in the form of Bertha Bobbit, a big girl, with a matching appetite. Add to that a Moat Monster with a flatulence problem, the weirdest array of witch’s Familiars possible, and a warlock determined to ruin Gertie’s chances of success, and the story unfolds. Not to mention the demon…

What gave you the incentive to write this book?
I love humorous fantasy, and have read a lot of it. The master of this genre is of course, Terry Pratchett, and I would like to think that Terry has inspired my writing in many ways. Gertie began many years ago simply with an idea, and though the theme of a witch going to a witching school has been likened to Harry Potter, my book was in the process of being penned long before JK became famous. Once I began the book, the characters took over and worked their way through the rest of it. I love Gertie as a character, and I hope others feel the same about her! I would like her to return one day…

Can you sum the book up in one sentence?
A light hearted and very funny excursion into children’s fantasy

Have your characters or writing been inspired by friends/ family or by real-life experiences?
I doubt if there are any writers out there who do not rely on at least some of their life’s experiences in their writing. Characters with Lancashire accents have a habit of creeping into my novels, especially when writing humour. I believe I have that off to a fine art…Then of course there’s the animated umbrella in ‘Gertie Gets it Right (eventually)’ inspired by a true incident that happened to my Mother with her wooden-headed umbrella, but that’s another story.

What is your favourite scene in your book? Can we have a snippet?
It’s very difficult to pick out one favourite scene because there are so many I enjoyed writing. Since I mentioned this in an earlier question, I will choose one from the early chapters when Gertie learns how to animate her umbrella. It is an impressive black one with the head of a bat as the handle…

Gertie concentrated even harder, and tried again. She had no reason to wonder why it shouldn’t work, so she believed with all her heart.

This time, she felt sure she saw the bat’s little nose quiver. Encouraged by this, Gertie tried again. She wasn’t one to give up easily.

“A…a…Atishooooooooo!” sneezed the bat’s head. “Gor Blimey,” he continued, “I’ve got a blinking cold. No wonder mind, being out in all weathers. How would you like it? Being upside down with cold water pouring down your ears? Never think of me do you? Oh no, you don’t take me out on nice sunny days do you?”

Gertie tried to reply, but didn’t get a chance.
“No,” the umbrella continued. “I only see light of day when it’s pouring rain. What a life. Don’t interrupt,” he added, seeing Gertie about to speak. “At last, I can have my say, and no one is going to stop me. I HATE rain, do you hear me? I hate it. Why I was put on this Earth to be an umbrella I don’t know. I must have done something really evil in a past life to deserve this, that’s all I can say.”

Unfortunately, it wasn’t all he could say. Because he continued.

“Not only rain either, mind. You take me out when it’s snowing too, and blowing a gale. My ears get blooming freezing. And what do I get when we arrive home for all my hard work? Cocoa? Hot chocolate? Kind words and a nice warm fire? No, a blooming good shake. That’s what I get.”

Do you have an agent, or have you gone alone?
No, I don’t have an agent, but if there are any out there reading this with interest, please get in touch! I was simply lucky enough to be in the right place at the right time (which had to be a first for me) when the writers site ‘You Write On’ gave the opportunity for publication. I thought about it carefully for at least five seconds before I snatched their hands off!

I would perhaps use them again, because my only disappointment was a very plain cover for both my books. You can’t judge a book by its cover, and all that, but Gertie and Zac deserve much more interesting and colourful ones! I would initially try to gain the interest of an established publisher who would give me the necessary backing to promote my next book more. It is an arduous task!

What marketing have you been doing to help sales?
I will try almost anything to promote my books! I am always happy to do interviews like this, I have my own website and blog, an Author page on Amazon UK, and copies of my books are available in my local library. If anyone has any more promotion ideas, I will be pleased to hear them!

How long does it take you to write a book? Have your written other books (give titles)?
My first two published books were long in the writing, because my writing skills have improved considerably over time. The first draft of Gertie was written many years ago when I naively believed that if you write a good story, someone will want to publish it. I didn’t, at the time, know all the ‘rules’ involved in writing a good book, and that has come over many years. The published version of Gertie is many drafts away from that first completed story…

My other published book is a children’s sword and sorcery fantasy,‘Zac’s Destiny’, and I am currently writing a very different humorous children’s fantasy, ‘Be Careful What You Wish For’, and a fantasy for adults, ‘Dimensions’.

Which comes first for you – characters or plot?
I think I would have to say plot, though characters come a very close second. For me, the initial ideas for the book have to come first, but it doesn’t take long before the characters take over a lot of the writing. I get to the point where I will think, no, Gertie wouldn’t do or say that. At that point the characters determine what comes next in a way, but they still follow a meandering version of my original plot.

How did you get into writing? Did you always want to become a writer?
I began to write while I was temporarily out of work after completing a psychology degree. I have wanted to write for as long as I can remember, but a lot of the problem is making enough time to do it while holding down a full-time job. Writing is my life, and ultimately is all I want to do as a career. I just need to pen that best seller!

You mentioned other books that you are working on. Tell us a little more about them.
Yes, I am working on two books. Strangely, that is how I seem to write best. One is humorous, the other serious. If I am not feeling particularly humorous, I write the serious fantasy. If I feel inspired to humour, then I write that one. They are such very different books, fortunately I never get mixed up!

The humorous book is another children’s fantasy, ‘Be Careful What You Wish For.’ Here is a brief synopsis:

Finn is a bored young leprechaun. He wants something exciting to happen, but never having been blessed by the Good Luck Fairy, he soon gets far more than he bargained for. This is no fairy tale…

And here is an amusing anecdote from the opening chapters:

Neither was poor Finn the most fortunate leprechaun ever to grace the Dell. Contrary to popular belief, leprechauns are not born lucky. Fortune is a blessing bestowed by the Good Luck Fairy, providing she is in an agreeable mood, and more to the point, as long as she is there.

Many people wish on the name of the Good Luck Fairy, or even leave little offerings for her under their pillows as they sleep in the hope she will grant them some good fortune. Leprechauns go one better, they encourage her to visit in person to bless their newborns. Magical types have a habit of sticking together, so she was happy to visit Duntappin once every twelve months. The main reason being she enjoyed the donations of the grateful parents, if truth be told.

Finn’s parents hated queues, so when they knew the fairy was due to visit the village to bless all the children born in the vicinity since her last visit, they waited a while to give the crush time to dwindle.

“It’ll be much better,” decided Lorcan, Finn’s father. “Let all the others queue in the heat with their screaming bundles. When they’ve gone, we can just walk right up and have our boy blessed in peace.”

Riona smiled. Lorcan always had the best ideas.

They arrived late in the beautiful dell just outside the village. The sun still shone, the bees buzzed through the cloudless sky, but something was wrong. The fact was they were so late the long queue had built, been blessed, then decreased, and gone away. The Good Luck fairy had also clumped off back to wherever she hailed from with her grateful donations of cakes and sweets.

Lorcan didn’t want his good idea to be blamed, so he said “Never mind, my love. Place the lad on the ground there. It will work just as well.”

Ma O’Shea looked where her husband was pointing, then lay Finn on the spot where the fairy had trampled the grass down when she carried out her blessings. It was obvious where she had stood as she was quite a heavy fairy due to her sweet tooth, and she had a habit of stomping around while she chanted. They hoped some of the luck may have dropped off her while she blessed and stomped. The O’Shea’s couldn’t be sure how well it would work. Maybe Finn would at least have a lucky backside; it was the best they could hope for.

A brief synopsis for Dimensions follows:

When Leah first sees the old necklace in the window of an antique shop, little does she know what life has in store for her. Increasingly drawn to the pentacle on a silver chain, Leah finally buys it and soon finds herself having strange dreams about Stonehenge. Trying to put the dreams to rest, she visits the ancient site; only to be transported into another dimension.

Leah arrives in a besieged land of wizardry, magic and demon might. The land needs the help of an Outlander, and to Leah’s disbelief and shock, she has been called.

And a snippet from the early chapters:

It was then she heard the wet, snuffling sound. As she looked around herself, the approaching riders all but forgotten, Leah strained to hear the sound again. She caught movement from the corner of her eye. By the time she turned her head in its general direction, all she saw was a vague sense of something disappearing behind one of the huge stones. In a panic now, frozen to the monolith against which she clung, all Leah could do was wait for it to reappear.

When it did, Leah felt her heart stop. The creature looked vaguely human, but the similarity ended there. Even stooped, it stood taller than Leah’s five foot four. Sickly white skin hung from its bony frame in long, pendulous flaps. It gave the impression of its skeleton having shrunk, leaving nothing for the excess skin to hold on to. The head was bald, apart from a few tufts of hair here and there on the scabrous scalp. Pus oozed from sores all over its body. The creature’s bloodshot eyes stared about wildly, the holes in its face dilating to sniff the air, searching. Couldn’t it see her? Was it blind? Leah didn’t move, or make a sound. Her very soul wanted to scream out and run, but she knew her life could depend on her actions right now.

The creature came nearer, and the smell of rotting flesh was overwhelming. Leah gagged, trying to hold her breath. The monstrosity turned its head, quizzically, and let out a deep sigh of annoyance. Even where she stood, Leah was sickened by the stench that came from the creature’s cracked and bloodless mouth. Something must have crawled in there and died, she thought. It turned, listening again. The holes on the side of its head dilated, as did the nostrils again. The glazed eyes turned, and stared straight at her.

What mistakes do you see new writers make?
I think, like myself, it is easy to believe that a good book will be snatched up and published. Unfortunately, that isn’t always the case. Writing does not just involve an inventive mind. If the tale, no matter how good, isn’t written to the agreed publishing format and standard, then publishers will not consider it. New writer’s need to face this and address it. The fantastic idea for a story is just the beginning.

What advice would you give aspiring authors.
Don’t give up. You are very unlikely to have your life’s work snatched up by the first publisher or agent you send it to. Be prepared for the long haul, but believe in yourself, and don’t lose hope. There could be someone out there just waiting for your book to drop on their desk. The hard part is finding them…

Contacts: Website: http://www.lynnenorth.co.uk/

Fiona Ingram

Now, this is a new concept. Children’s writer, Fiona Ingram, has turned her website into an interactive journey following her characters, Justin and Adam from her book, The Secret of the Sacred Scarab through Egypt on an exciting adventure.

Those who survive the journey and manage to translate the Curse of Thoth will be able to read the first chapter in Adam and Justin’s next adventure—The Search for the Stone of Excalibur—as they hunt for the Scroll of the Ancients.

The Secret of the Sacred Scarab http://rcm.amazon.com/e/cm?t=wise044-20&o=1&p=8&l=bpl&asins=0595457169&fc1=000000&IS2=1&lt1=_blank&m=amazon&lc1=0000FF&bc1=000000&bg1=FFFFFF&f=ifris a thrilling adventure for two young boys, whose fun trip to Egypt turns into a dangerously exciting quest to uncover an ancient and mysterious secret. A book for children (and adults) aged ten and above.

Fiona Ingram’s Blog or email Fiona for a more immediate contact: fiona.ingram@telkomsa.net

Fiona has been a journalist for the last fifteen years, so writing a children’s book—The Secret of the Sacred Scarab—was an unexpected step, inspired by a recent trip to Egypt. The tale of the sacred scarab began life as a little anecdotal tale for her two nephews (then 10 and 12), who accompanied her on the Egyptian trip. This short story grew into a children’s book and the first in the adventure series Chronicles of the Stone.

Fiona is writing the next book in the series—The Search for the Stone of Excalibur—a huge treat for young King Arthur fans.

I’ve a few questions myself I’d like to ask:

Have you ever wrote for the adult market?
A few years ago I wrote a Regency Romance because I love Georgette Heyer’s Regency Romances. They have to be very detailed and historically accurate because Regency Romance fans are sticklers for detail. I never did much with the manuscript until recently. I submitted it to a new publisher and landed a contract. I had already written most of another regency novel so I hope they will take that as well.

Is more care and attention paid to vocabulary in children’s writing than adult?
Without using jaw-breaking vocabulary, writers should filter in challenging words because kids love new words, and (surprise!) love learning new things. They feel more empowered by learning and then using a new word.

Do you sometimes feel you have to be a teacher and teach through your books?
My books are all about history, geography, archaeology, mythology (lots of ‘ologies’) so the books will always be educational. My heroes go on a series of adventures involving a quest; they delve into new places, discover things about countries and cultures they never knew, and uncover ancient secrets. Kids love anything exciting and mysterious.
The trick is to inform without overloading them with information. Kids who have read the book really love the plot, Egypt, the legends, and the aura of ancient mystery and suspense that pervades the adventure.
I make sure that anything I tell my readers about the place or culture has to be directly related to the plot and what the heroes need to know to survive. That way the information comes across as vital, and not something superfluous.

Most people believe that it is considerably easier to write for children than for adults, has this ever been said to you?
When I began my children’s novel I did not know that many people find it hard to write for kids – well, I didn’t find it so, but I have read that some writers struggle.
There is always a tendency to ‘talk down’ to kids, whereas, because kids ‘read up’ or aspire towards a higher level, the writer should always address kids on a mature level. Never treat them like kids. I always think of my readers as small big people. They are capable of sniffing out a patronising phrase from ten miles away.

Thank you Fiona for your time. It’s been a pleasure.
If anybody else has a question for Fiona please put it in the comment box below, and she’ll get back to you shortly.