Wednesday, January 20, 2016

More Writing Tips & the 71st Kid Lit Blog Hop

Carpinello's Writing Pages is back this Hop with more tips from the Children's, Middle Grade, and Young Adult writers I've interviewed. These are from March, 2015.

Write what you want to read because if you want to read it, chances are someone else will too. Markets change. Fads change, but a good story is timeless

Keep writing, no matter how discouraged you might get, or how busy life becomes. Nobody can tell your stories but youNancy M. Bell, author of The Cornwall Adventures: A Step Beyond.

Just get the first book written. Then write more books. Make sure you have a proficient editor and proofreader. Write what you would read. Make it fun. Don’t overthink it!Cynthia P. Willow, author of Letsi and the Labyrinth.

Join a critique group. Write your story. Research. Learn. Edit. Submit your story. Last, but not least, never ever give upSusan A. Royal, author of Not Long Ago.

My advice is to write every day. Practice may not make perfect, but it will improve your writing skills. When the draft is complete, edit, edit, and edit. When you think you are finished, read it again.  Also, leave the book alone for a few days, or weeks. It helps to take a break and return to it later—Sara Stinson, author of Finger Bones and Wendy.

And Now,

Welcome to the 71st Kid Lit Blog Hop. This exciting Hop, now monthly, is where we develop an engaged group of people who love everything that has to do with children's literature.


On this Hop, Carpinello's Writing Pages interviews
MG/YA fantasy authors

Kandi Wyatt

Remember, you are always more than welcome to join us by popping in a post and hopping around to meet some of your fellow Kid Lit bloggers and authors!

Simply make a post and add it to the linky. (Please make sure to add your direct post only) 
Once you are done, then hop around to visit others. Please visit at least the two people above your link. Please leave a comment when you do visit, we all like those.

Also, it would be appreciated if you grab the Kid Lit Blog Hop Badge and display it on your blog and/or your post.

NOTE: This month is the annual Multicultural Children's Book Day which takes place on January 27th. Please stop by and see the reviews and projects from bloggers all over the world. Want to know more? Go HERE!

Our next hop will be February 17,2016.

Happy Hopping!

Pragmatic Mom

The Logonauts 

A Book Long Enough

Spark and Pook 

Hits and Misses


Meet MG Fantasy Author Marie C. Collins

Carpinello's Writing Pages welcome MG/YA author Marie Collins.

First, a bit about Marie:

I wrote my first work of fiction in 6th grade. It was a monologue, spoken by a tomato as it sat on the conveyer belt of a ketchup factory. Hint: It didn’t turn out well for the tomato!

In other words, I was not writing precociously at a young age. For me writing has simply always been the thing I enjoy most about doing anything. For instance, in high school, I made up for a slacker-performance on an ecology lab by writing a comic tutorial on how not to do science.

Yet, up until the beginning of my junior year in college, I was a bio major. I thought it was somehow a “cheat” to make a career out of doing what came easily to me. I don’t remember what turned me around, but I changed majors. I squeezed the requirements for two new ones—journalism and English lit—into the last two years of school, which meant taking five writing courses a semester. I cried a lot—no really, I sobbed. I had a mountain to climb every term. It was writing boot camp. But it taught me I could write (and edit) for 40 hours a week and be a happy clam, which I then did for 30 years.

Why did you pick to write MG/YA books?

That’s a really good question. I suspect a few things pointed me in that direction. I felt very misunderstood as a child. Around age 8, I made a fists-clenched-at-sides vow never to forget how it feels to be a kid. Perhaps that stuck? I have always enjoyed coming-of-age fiction and children’s literature. But also, I see this as a very hopeful and optimistic age—an age that is freer to think about the world in grand, wishful terms, as if it were just waiting for us to mold it. It’s a time when, for a moment, all things are possible—even as mysterious forces conspire to narrow those options into more finite realities. The idealistic side of me is still this age and is constantly nagging more-realistic-me to doing her bidding.

What types of books do you like to read?

I enjoy just about everything except historical nonfiction. Which is not to say I don’t appreciate history! I live in a 125-year-old house; I am a lover of all things vintage; I am fascinated by the stories that pour from genealogy; and I LOVE biography. I guess I just need my history with a spoonful of story! (Like what Cheryl does with her historical fiction books.)

Otherwise, I cut my reading teeth on the Brontes and am still a big fan of gothic fiction. I am also a crime junkie. While that’s not unusual, I think the obsession is personal for me, as my family has an unsolved mystery. My grandfather disappeared when my father was only 9 months old. No trace of him was ever found, even when the Veterans Administration conducted an official investigation to determine whether he should be declared dead for life insurance purposes. One and two generations later, his story is still a quiet centerpiece in our family.

When you are not writing, what do you like to do?

I am quite a homebody. I live someplace very beautiful and simply enjoy being here. As readers of A Brief Stay at Earth Human Camp may guess, I also enjoy exploring different cuisines. I am a 40-year proponent of buying organic and local; I shape-shift into a farm wife every August, then preserve everything in sight. I love hiking, talking, and other ways of spending time with family and friends, especially my daughter. I love my dogs, science, wilderness, and wildlife—and vacations that take me to wild places. And I read every night, even if I’m so tired I only last a handful of pages.

Tell us about A Brief Stay at Earth Human Camp and how the story came to be.

I raised my daughter as a single mother, and one of the things I put off during those years was writing fiction. There simply weren’t enough hours in the day. But I put it at the top of a to-do list for when she went off to college. A Brief Stay at Earth Human Camp came out of my determination to transition to a new level of writing at this stage of my life.

I started by developing the main characters and how they lived; then I developed a world that would challenge them at every step. A driving idea, as I say in the dedication to the book, was my daughter’s fear when she was young that a robot might somehow take my place without her knowing it.

A Brief Stay at Earth Human Camp introduces my main characters, Anne and Atticus, to Earth human society (and to their own alien “talents”) by way of sleepaway camp. The world I created slowly encroaches on them there, but is more of a force in the next book of the series.

Here's a peek at A Brief Stay at Earth Human Camp:

Once you find out your mother is an alien, what ISN’T possible?

That’s what 12-year-old Anne and 10-year-old Atticus Reade want to know. Minutes after learning that their mother is from the planet Farbookonia and that their parents’ secret project has put them all in danger, the children are wrenched from their sheltered existence in the Midwest and whisked off to a safe sleep-away camp in New Jersey—each with a tiny, protective “Globot” on one shoulder.

Painfully aware they’re not like the others at camp, Anne and Atticus do their best to fit in while concealing their alien background and the “special talents” that go with it. But everything is so new to them, they have a hard time sorting reality from fiction. Quirky campers, campfire ghost stories, a bizarre camp director, Anne’s mysterious dreams, and Atticus’s unusual animal encounters are all equally disturbing.

Just as they start getting the hang of life among young Earth humans, a broadcast on the Rec Hall TV shakes things up, and things that are truly strange emerge from normal newness. It turns out Anne and Atticus—and their new friends—may not be safe at camp after all. A Brief Stay at Earth Human Camp thrusts them into a reality they wish was fiction.

Have you written other books? If so, tell us a bit about them.

I have written nonfiction books and other materials for others for 30 years, but A Brief Stay at Earth Human Camp is my only completed work of fiction to date. I refer to the work I did for hire because it helped me develop some of the tools I used to write my first novel.

What’s next for your writing? Are you working on a new story?

While planning A Brief Stay at Earth Human Camp, I wrote the backstory and trajectory for the entire Secrets of Farbookonia series, and I am determined to finish book two by the end of this year. It’s called The Quest for Normal, and it takes my formerly sheltered characters Anne and Atticus, as well as the beleaguered boy Max they met at camp, to a small town in Maine, where we begin to see what’s going on in the world around them.

What advice do you have for other authors?

I guess I would try to demystify novel-writing as 10% inspiration and 90% perspiration. There are many good ideas for books, but authors are people who develop ideas into books. Sure, I’ve heard the stories of authors sitting down, starting to type, and hammering out their novels from beginning to end (with a slap-dash pull of the last page from what in my mind is the cartridge of a typewriter). But that’s uncommon, in my opinion. I use many practical tools to maintain control over my writing—outlining, charting, diagramming, deep questioning—and I revise, revise, and revise, then revise some more.

Anything else you want readers to know?

I recently added an online store to my website where readers can buy signed books and my handmade classic-book-charm necklaces. Also, I really enjoy reader contact!

Where can readers find you and your books?



A Brief Stay at Earth Human Camp

My Website

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Meet MG/YA Fantasy Author Kandi Wyatt

Carpinello's Writing Pages welcomes fellow teacher and fantasy MG/YA author Kandi Wyatt.

First, a bit about Kandi:

Kandi is a wife, mom of five, teacher, artist and author. In her free time, she enjoys writing fantasy, writing Christmas programs, drawing using graphite and colored pencils. Portraits are her specialty. She also enjoys photography. Thank you to her photographer husband who has let her join his journey in photography as well. She is both his model and apprentice. On occasion she’s his assistant when working with clients and when he needs a 'light stand with feet'.

Why did you pick to write books for Middle Grade and Young Adults?

I have always loved the books my kids have enjoyed. When I began writing, I wrote for them. They were in the middle grade to young adult genre. I wanted to give them good, clean books so they fall more into the middle grade genre. My most recent work in progress will be middle grade because I am writing for junior high students.

What types of books do you like to read?

I love Sci-Fi, Fantasy, and uplifting Christian fiction. I have found Clive Cussler’s Oregon and Fargo series to be quite fun and intriguing as well.

When you are not writing, what do you like to do?

I enjoy spending time with my family, photography, and drawing.

Tell us about Dragon's Future and how the story came to be.

Dragon’s Future is about a set of twins who become dragon riders. They learn of a dragon rider from another colony which is after a mysterious plant with the power to renew or destroy the dragon population. The twins and their friends must fight for their dragons’ future.

The story came about on a Christmas vacation. The family was traveling to Eastern Oregon to be with my husband’s family. Along the way, there was a discussion about how we named our daughter incorrectly. Her name is Dawnya, but she hates mornings. I jokingly asked if she should be called Duskya. Later that same evening, we traveled past Three Mile Canyon, Oregon. I saw the sign, and in my mind’s eye, I saw a dragon breathing fire down a box canyon. The two events merged to create the story.

Here's a peek at Dragon's Future:

Every child of Woolpren dreams of becoming one, but only a few are chosen. Now, ten-year-old twin brother and sister, Ruskya and Duskya, have been chosen to join an elite group of riders: dragon riders. Full of awe and excitement, the twins leave their mother, and their home, to train for their new lives.

Fifteen years later, dragons are becoming extinct, and riders are rare. One day, Ruskya is at the general store in town when a man announces that he is recruiting new dragon riders. Ruskya goes undercover and discovers that there is another colony of riders with their own agenda—a quest to find a mysterious plant that could restore the dragon population, or destroy it. When a battle erupts between the two colonies, it’s up to Ruskya and his friends to fight for their dragons’ future and their lives.

Have you written other books? If so, tell us a bit about them.

There are five books in the Dragon Courage series. Dragon’s Future is Book 1. Dragon’s Heir follows Braidyn, a character that we meet in Dragon’s Future, as he is older and coming of age. He must temper his need for justice with mercy, or he will lose everything he holds dear. Dragon’s Revenge, Book 3, follows Kyn, the youngling from Book 1, as he tries to fill the hole that his twin left. He travels to a new land finding wild dragons. He and his new friend must figure out how to bring peace to the land. Dragon’s Cure, Book 4, deals with Duskya’s daughter, Carryn. Carryn must learn to forgive or to be held as a prisoner in her own heart. Finally, Book 5, Dragon’s Posterity, follows Ruskya’s son, Ardyn and Kyn, as they create the youngling challenge. Together they help younglings transition to full-fledge riders.

My other book is The One Who Sees Me. It is a historical Christian fiction. I took a story from the Bible and rewrote it in a different time, place, and changed the names. In essence, it is taking a new look at an old story. The reader follows Faru through life as she is sold from one master to another. Every time she thinks life is great, she gets a curve-ball thrown at her. She must adapt and learn to trust The One Who Sees Me.

What’s next for your writing? Are you working on a new story?

I am working on a middle grade fantasy about four eighth graders. There are three boys and one girl. They find what they think is a thunderegg on the beach. Their science teacher helps them out and tells them it isn’t a stone at all. They are surprised and vow to keep what they have found safe. It is the first in probably a trilogy that deal with junior high kids and fantasy creatures. They are set in a fictionalized version of my home area and the school where I teach. Last year when I taught a junior high study hall, I found students who hated to read. I wondered why not get them to read by writing them into a story. This is what has come from that idea. I hope to work on it during National Novel Writing Month in November.

What advice do you have for other authors?

Keep writing. Keep networking. Make yourself a real person. Enable people to get to know you. One thing I have learned about being an author is it is so much more than just writing. You must interact on social media. This is more than saying, “buy my book.” It is a matter of letting people know what your interests are and sharing about them. I don’t sell a book by saying, “buy my book”. I sell books when I introduce myself, talk about my kids, and why I write. Eventually, someone says, “what is your book about?” That is when I sell a book.

Anything else you want readers to know?

I never dreamed of being a published author. I still sometimes have trouble saying I am an author. However, it has been a joy to get to know people I would never have had the opportunity to meet. I would love to some day actually have face-to-face contact with these new friends.

Where can readers find you and your books?


My books are available on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and iTunes. Here are the Amazon links:

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Meet MG Author Mariko Layton

Carpinello's Writing Pages welcomes fellow Colorado author Mariko Layton. Mariko is also a member of CAL, the Colorado Authors League.

First, a bit about Mariko:

When I arrived in America from Japan at the age of eight, I only knew how to count to ten and say Thank You in English. However, as soon as I learned to read English, I fell in love with books. I always wanted to be a writer, but to be a good daughter, I had to become a lawyer first. I finally found my way and now expose the mysteries of Japan to kids through books.

Why did you pick to write books for MG?

Middle grade is such a great age. Middle graders read well and are eager to read by themselves. There are a lot of life lessons they need to learn, which are kid problems. I hope to help them with those issues.

What types of books do you like to read?

I love reading Middle Grade and Young Adult books. I read a lot of Newbery honors and winner books. There are a lot of universal truths in these books that remind me of the simple truths that we should all live by. I also read adult novels and nonfiction books. I especially like mysteries and nonfiction about people overcoming overwhelming obstacles.

When you are not writing, what do you like to do?

I love the outdoors. I live in the mountains, so I hike with my dogs in the summer. In the winter, I downhill ski, cross country ski, and skate ski.

Tell us about Ayumi's Violin and how the story came to be.

Ayumi's Violin is about a biracial twelve-year-old violin prodigy who, after her mother dies, leaves her home in Japan to go to America. She lives with a Caucasian father she’s never met, a resentful half-sister, and a racist stepmother. She does the unthinkable when she is deprived of her violin.

I wanted to show how different countries and cultures are through Ayumi’s eyes. I wanted a protagonist with a passion that drove her, a passion so central to her that her life depends on it, a passion so strong that it would get her through her darkest periods. I love music so I made her a violin prodigy.

Here's a peek at Ayumi's Violin:

Mother’s voice was growing weaker every day. Twelve-year-old Ayumi knelt on the floor beside the futon and leaned her head toward her mother to listen as she struggled to form words. Ayumi’s stomach shriveled like a hard dried rice ball. She wanted to lie next to her, have Mother hold her and tell her she would get well.

But that wasn’t going to happen. Mother was dying.

“Play for me,” Mother whispered.

Ayumi padded through the nearly empty room to her violin case. Money had run out during the ten months of Mother’s illness because of her inability to work. They had hocked everything that would bring in a yen, except for what Ayumi would soon take to America. Ayumi had wanted to work, but Mother wouldn’t let her sacrifice her four hours of violin practice every day.

Ayumi opened the case and stared at the photo of Mother and her father together. They smiled and looked happy. Ayumi’s skin prickled with apprehension at the thought of meeting her father soon for the first time.

She cracked open the window to let in fresh air. She drew out her violin and bow, nestled her instrument under her chin, and began to play Mother’s favorite Beethoven sonata. Mother’s pinched face relaxed, and Ayumi’s stomach unwound... 

Ayumi glanced at Mother after the first movement, worried over the yellow of her eyes, her gaunt face, and the small rise her wasted body made under the top cover. Sorrow shot through her heart like an arrow. She set her violin and bow down on the floor, dashed outside, crumpled on the dirt road, and cried. After her tears stopped, she took deep breaths, dried her face, and patted the dust off her tattered dress before dragging herself back to their apartment.

“Rest, Mother,” she said, offering a brave smile.

Have you written other books? If so, tell us a bit about them.

Accidental Samurai Spy will be coming out in the next few months. Set in 1863, Aritomo, a twelve-year-old son of a samurai lord, is training to become a brave warrior. When he and his loyal dog Tama are rescued by his enemies after a shipwreck, he pretends to be a peasant. He rescues the enemy lord’s daughter. As his reward, he lives in the enemy’s castle where he becomes friends with the girl. In his struggle to save his family when he learns of a plot to massacre his clan, he learns that there is more to being a warrior than combat.
Kenji's Power is about Kenji, a thirteen-year-old boy who feels powerless when he cannot save his family in the devastating tsunami of 2011. He is sent from his seaside village to live with his mysterious uncle in Tokyo, where he does not fit in. His world as an orphan twists stranger when his uncle turns out to be a Japanese-mafia gangster. A gang war breaks out, and he is hidden in a sumo training center. When he becomes the only one who can save his uncle, he must dig deep to reclaim his power.

What’s next for your writing? Are you working on a new story?

I’m currently working on a book about a girl in an internment camp during World War II. When Lillian’s grandfather falls ill, she wants to cheer him up by buying him his favorite record album. In order to earn enough money, she lends herself to other kids by becoming their voice when they don’t have the courage to speak their mind. In the process, she learns to express her feelings.

What advice do you have for other authors?

Keep writing! If one idea doesn’t work out, go on and write the next book.

Where can readers find you and your books?