Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Meet MG Fantasy Author Kurt Chambers

Carpinello's Writing Pages welcomes the UK's Kurt Chambers, author of the middle grade fantasy series Truth Teller.

First, a bit about Kurt:

I am a husband, father of three and grandfather of another three so far. I live in England, not too far from London, in the county of Hertfordshire. I lead a double life. During the day I work as a carpenter, but in the evening I transform into an author and all it entails. I write middle grade fantasy novels that I like to think can be enjoyed by anyone aged eight to eighty. I was never a confident reader when I was a youngster. I struggled with some of the classic fantasy stories and wondered why authors couldn't write similar stories that were easier to read, for people like me. When I grew up, I decided I should write one myself. That is how my Truth Teller fantasy series started out all those years ago when I was a child.

Why did you pick to write books for MG?

There are lots of reasons why I write middle grade. I could talk about it all day. From a child's perspective, anything is possible. That is such a great resource for a writer to tap into. Anything! Imagine that. That alone is an inspiration for any author. When you sit down with young children and get into a conversation with them, it's the funniest thing in the world. Their perspective on life puts us adults to shame. You soon realize they have a craving for a world filled with magic and awe. As a writer, how could I not want to take advantage of that and create something that will be truly appreciated and believed?

What types of books do you like to read?

I love fantasy. Terry Brooks is one of my favorite authors. He is a master in the art of storytelling. I have read most of what he has written. My favorite series I've read recently is an old classic, The Clan of the Cave Bear, by Jean M. Auel. I fell in love with her characters. I'm finding it hard to find more books that I enjoyed as much as these stories.

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

I have had many hobbies over the years: playing in bands and building rockets and a giant telescope, just to mention a few. I once wrote a blog post about this for anyone who is interested in seeing for themselves.

http://geniusborderinginsanity.blogspot.co.uk/2011/02/boy-stuff-kurt-chambers.html

These days all my spare time is spent on my books. There is so much involved in writing and publishing a book as an indie author, it's a wonder anyone has the time to write at all. You have to be the author, the editor, the publisher and the marketing manager. I was none of these when I started out, so it has been a long journey to get this far. An amazing journey, I hasten to add.

Tell us about Truth Teller and how the story came to be.

I worked quite a few years with children as a volunteer, helping to run the local Brownie pack as an official member of UK Girl Guiding. Anyone who works with kids will know what an inspiration they are. They inspired me to want to write children's books, so one day I just sat down and started writing. I did this for a couple of years, and after some advice from a friend of mine, I joined a novel workshop. That was my first contact with the writing community. I met the most amazing people I have ever met in my life, who took me under their wings and started to teach me and asked for nothing in return. It was a life-changing experience.

Here's a peek at Truth Teller:

How can ten-year-old Charlotte ever envisage that magic really exists? The place for other realms belongs in a child's fairy tale. Or so she thinks, until she discovers the strange shopkeeper and begins an adventure that changes her life forever.

Discovered alone in a far away forest, Charlotte embarks on a journey encountering heart-stopping dangers and real life monsters, but a far greater threat shadows her every move. Even the strength and skill of her new companions cannot protect her against a ruthless druid assassin.

But in this realm, Charlotte is not the vulnerable little girl she thought she was.



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

I have written four complete books in total. Three books in my Truth Teller series: Truth Teller, The Wrath of Siren, and Favian's Law. Book one and two are published, and book three is currently with my proofreader in its first round of edits. I also wrote a stand-alone sci-fi/fantasy novel called Unknown Reality which is also with my proofreader awaiting edits. I am planning to publish both titles this year if all goes well, along with the compilation edition of my Truth Teller trilogy in one book.

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

Yes, I am currently working on a novel titled The World in Johnny's Back Garden. I started writing this story many years ago, and it has changed many times since my original idea. I wanted to give children an alternative view of all living things. I eventually wrote a plot that I was happy with and started to write the novel. I have the first chapter up as a short story on my site.

What advice do you have for other authors?

First and foremost, never give up! That is the best advice to start with. There have been so many times I wanted to throw in the towel, you wouldn't believe. But I didn't. And I'm so glad I didn't. Only another writer can understand just how hard it is. My second piece of advice would be, join a novel workshop or critique group and learn your craft as a writer to be as good as you can be. You will need to grow a thick skin. Here is a list I made of all the best network sites for writers.

Anything else you want readers to know?

My first book, Truth Teller, is now free to download as an ebook from Amazon, Smashwords and Barnes & Noble.

Where can readers find you and your books?

You can connect with me at:

Author’s Web page
Author’s Blog 
Twitter 
Facebook

My books:

Amazon UK
Amazon US
Smashwords
Goodreads
Barnes & Noble

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Writing Tips for Authors and the Kid Lit Blog Hop #60

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 July and August 2014. Feel free to leave a tip of your own.

While writing is a dream come true for me, getting published can take some of the magic out of that dream. Remember, you are the creative mind behind the stories. Find a publisher, or press that allows you to make the most of your writing experience. Don’t let a publisher or agent tell you whether or not you are worth their time. Find a community of writers, publishers, editors and friends who allow you to publish your work, profit from the sales, and support your dream to write.Traci McDonald, author of Burning Bridger.

The best advice I can give to authors is just to enjoy what you’re doing. There isn’t much money in writing books unless you’re in the top 5% of authors, so you may as well just have a blast spinning a tale. The only other big piece of advice I can give is get a really good editor. After reading and editing then reading and editing my books at least forty times, I then pass a book over to my editor, and she finds a whole bunch of things I just overlooked! It always amazes me, but like I mentioned, I’m a storyteller not a writer. It's far better for an editor to find those mistakes than the first few readers. You don’t want the first reviews you get to be complaints!C. M. Gray, author of Shadowland.

Never quit. That's true too for aspiring authors. Keep writing. Do what you love. If you practice writing enough, eventually you'll be good enough to publish. It's a great feeling when somebody else likes your story.—Madeleine McLaughlin, author of Beggar Charlie.

One of the best pieces of advice I’ve ever heard: Believe in yourself. If you don’t, who will?—
Audrey Kane, author of The Purple Girl.

I’ve only recently realized how impatience spoils my work.  Given time to sit for a few weeks, or even months, I look back and see faults in my writing that I couldn’t see before.  It’s a maturity thing.  Many writers will tell you this, but few aspiring writers will believe it’s true until they see it for themselves.  Also, for young writers, I’d say go ahead and write your ideas and stories even if you don’t feel completely confident as a writer – you can always come back and revise it later.  I have a pet theory, which I can’t prove, that George Lucas conceived most of the Star Wars story when he was in middle school.  It has elements to it that I think really point to that.—Edwin Hanks, author of Uprooted (The Brothers of Orinthia Book 1).

And Now,

Welcome to the 60th Kid Lit Blog Hop where we continue to develop a dynamic and engaged community of children's books bloggers, authors, publishers, and publicists.

On this Hop, Carpinello's Writing Pages interviews
MG author Carrie Cross
and
MG author Kurt Chambers

Also, if you haven't entered yet, be sure to check out the Children's Book Week Kindle Fire, Kids Edition Tablet giveaway hosted by Mother Daughter Book Reviews where you can enter to win a brand new Kindle Fire HD 7", Kids Edition tablet + a $50 Amazon gift card to buy some new books (can substitute a $200 Amazon gift card or PayPal cash).  This giveaway is open worldwide and ends May 31, 2015.  No purchase necessary. Just click the image below to take you there.

Children's Book Week Kindle Kids Edition Giveaway 2015

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! This week, we are excited to be including a Goodreads Linky Party to be held in conjunction with the Kid Lit Blog Hop. These linky parties are designed to give you the opportunity to connect with and grow your network of fellow kid lit bloggers, authors, and parents through your various social media platforms.  

Hostesses:

Mother Daughter Book Reviews

Julie Grasso, Author/ Blogger

Cheryl Carpinello, Author / Blogger

Stacking Books

BeachBoundBooks

Pragmatic Mom

Reading Authors

The Logonauts

A Book Long Enough

Spark and Pook

Happy Hopping everyone and enjoy the Hop!

Kid Lit Blog Hop
 

Kid Lit Blog Hop & Linky Party Rules *Please Read*

1. LINKY PARTY: Add the link to your Goodreads profile page in the Goodreads Linky Party list below. Be sure to visit at least the two links directly before yours as well as your hosts' Goodreads pages. Be sure to friend or follow some folks with similar interests and like any reviews that catches your eye. If you do not have a Goodreads profile, you are welcome to link up a different social media profile (Pinterest, Facebook, etc.). 2. KID LIT BLOG HOP: Link up any Kid Lit related post in the Kid Lit Blog Hop. This can be a link to a children’s book review, a discussion about children’s literature/literacy, or a post on a recently-read children’s book or one that you love from your childhood.
* Don't link directly to your blog, it must be a specific post.*
* For Authors, we prefer you to link to your blog if you have one. Please link unique posts each time ~ no repeats please. *
* Make sure you include an image relevant to the POST (e.g., book cover), not your blog button or photo of yourself.*
* Feel free to link more than one post.*
3. KID LIT BLOG HOP: Please visit AT LEAST the TWO LINKS from the Kid Lit Blog Hop directly ahead of your own and leave them some love in the form of a comment. We are trying to build a community of bloggers, readers, parents, authors, and others who are as passionate about children’s literature as we are so please CONNECT and follow any or all of the blogs that interest you! 4. If you like, grab the button above and put it somewhere on your blog, preferably the post you're linking up. If you'd prefer, you can just add a text link back to this Hop so that others can find it and check out all these great book links! 5. It would really help us get the word out about the Kid Lit Blog Hop if you would be so kind as to tweet, share, and spread the word about the Hop!

Happy Hopping!

 

GOODREADS LINKY PARTY

(***Please do not link a blog post here - see below for the Kid Lit Blog Hop***)


KID LIT BLOG HOP

Meet MG Mystery Writer Carrie Cross

Carpinello's Writing Pages welcomes Carrie Cross, author of the middle grade mystery series Skylar Robbins.

First, a bit about Carrie:

Carrie Cross is an avid reader who fell in love with books as a little girl after reading Goodnight Moon. She wrote her first "book" at age four: Blackie the Little Black Dog and the Flying Washing Machine. Carrie discovered her love of mysteries reading Nancy Drew books and The Happy Hollisters series, and while writing Skylar Robbins mysteries, she continues to look for clues in unexpected places to this day.

Why did you choose to write books for Middle Grade?

Some of the happiest memories from my ‘tweens involve cozy nights reading in bed, especially during a rainstorm. Judy Blume is my all time favorite author. I must have read, Are You There, God? It’s Me Margaret, fifty times or more. Nancy Drew and The Happy Holisters sparked my interest in mysteries. Zilpha Keatley Snyder was another favorite. How I wished I had a Velvet Room to retreat to, or a Changeling for a best friend!

My first book (never published) was written for an adult audience. While I shopped that, I started the first draft of a Skylar Robbins novel, and I was hooked instantly. I knew this was the age group I was meant to write for: the age I was when I read my favorite Judy Blume books.

What types of books do you like to read?

I still love to read MG and YA: Deb Caletti and Sarah Dessen are two favorites. I also can’t get enough of Lee Child’s Jack Reacher series, and Robert Crais’s Elvis Cole mysteries. I love biographies of those who lead unusual, superlative, or decadent lives, or books (fiction or non) about people who have overcome seemingly insurmountable obstacles.

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

Read, read, read. When I’m not writing or reading, I love to cook and go out to eat, especially for sushi, or to graze on small plates. I also own my own business distributing clothing wholesale, so I’m super busy. But if I have free time or take a vacation, you’ll find me on a boat or at a tropical beach.

Tell us about Skylar Robbins: The Mystery of the Hidden Jewels and how the story came to be.

Skylar Robbins: The Mystery of the Hidden Jewels is the second novel in the Skylar Robbins mystery series, and it just won the LASR Readers’ Choice Award for January 2015!

When I was six years old, my parents decided we needed to buy a bigger house. We looked at a creepy two-story in Santa Monica Canyon, and I played hide-and-seek with the little girl who lived there. There were closets and secret hiding places with doors that opened into other rooms. Later, I wondered, “What if there was a clue hidden in one of those closets?” And the idea for the Skylar Robbins mystery series was born, starting with The Mystery of Shadow Hills.

Here's a peek at The Mystery of the Hidden Jewels:

 
After solving The Mystery of Shadow Hills, thirteen-year-old sleuth Skylar Robbins is ready for a new adventure. Sure enough, as soon as she decides to start her own detective agency a thrilling case falls right into her hands.

A deserted mansion perches on a steep hillside, overlooking a rocky canyon. Tattered curtains hang behind broken windows, and a turret stretches toward the sky. Three years ago the owner disappeared suddenly, leaving behind a house full of secrets: A mysterious note, tantalizing clues, a hidden floor, one piece of a treasure map, and a missing fortune in diamonds.
 
Armed with her detective kit, and with the support of her BFF Alexa and a team of secret agents, Skylar embarks on a new and dangerous mission. Can she outwit a gang of aggressive bikers and find the hidden jewels before they do? Or will the perils of middle school--like battling ruthless bully Emelyn Peters--get in her way?

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

Skylar’s adventures began in The Mystery of Shadow Hills. Thirteen-year-old sleuth Skylar Robbins is horrified to learn that she'll be stuck at her bullying cousin Gwendolyn's creepy mansion for the summer. She has no idea how much excitement and danger awaits her in Malibu’s Shadow Hills.

As soon as Skylar arrives at the estate, unexplainable events begin to happen. She discovers a hidden garden in the huge back yard, and her new friend Kat pronounces it the perfect place to perform spells. Practical Skylar is skeptical, until the magic appears to start working.

Is Kat a real middle school witch and a true friend, or is she just interested in the cute stable boy? Did she use magic to control Skylar’s body, or was it all part of a complicated hoax? Who or what is making those terrifying noises up in Shadow Hills at night?

Rumors are flying and the locals are afraid. Kat challenges Skylar to take increasingly dangerous risks while she tries to solve the mystery. Armed with her detective tools, brains, and a huge dose of courage, Skylar will face her deepest fears to find the truth.

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

Yes! At the end of Hidden Jewels, Skylar discovers a new and confusing clue, written in code. If she can manage to decode it, the note promises to lead her to a hidden diary containing the next clues to the whereabouts of a famous heiress who has been missing for three years. Skylar vows to crack that code and find out what happened to her. She does this in book 3: The Mystery of the Missing Heiress, which I hope to publish by the end of 2015.

What advice do you have for other authors?

This advice comes from one of my blog posts, “Carrie Cross’s Advice to Aspiring Writers #1”:

Enjoy the writing process and revise, revise, revise. Get as many people as possible to read your manuscript and give you constructive criticism. Don’t just rely on family and friends for feedback. They love you and will tell you your book is great, even if it isn’t.

Find beta readers in your target age group who you don’t know personally. For instance, I asked my account base at work if they had children who would be willing to read my book, Skylar Robbins: The Mystery of Shadow Hills, before publication, and emailed the manuscript to those kids. Their feedback was invaluable.

Finally, don’t let rejections from agents deter you from getting published. Self-publish if you don’t get a contract; you’re going to do most of your own marketing anyway. Calvin Coolidge said it best: Persistence and determination alone are omnipotent!

Anything else you want readers to know?

On my website: www.carrie-cross.com, there are free games, interactive sleuthing, and lots of other fun things going on!

Where can readers find you and your books?


Please follow me on:

Facebook
Twitter
Website
Goodreads



Amazon author page
Amazon: Skylar Robbins: Mystery of Shadow Hills
Amazon: Skylar Robbins: Mystery of the Hidden Jewels




Wednesday, May 6, 2015

Meet MG Author Sharon Skretting

Carpinello's Writing Pages welcomes Sharon Skretting, author of The Ultimate Treasure Quest series. Sharon is also a fellow educator.

First, a bit about Sharon:

Sharon Skretting is the author of The Ultimate Treasure Quest I: The Jewel of Peru and the founder of Quest Teaching. She has been teaching elementary school for twenty years and lives with her husband and a cat named Scat! Now that her three children have grown, she is spreading her wings into the realm of professional writing. Being able to use her love of writing to excite her students about learning is a dream come true for Sharon. Her goal is to write fast-paced, excellent literature —filled with interesting characters, intrigue, danger, and intricate plots—that will hook readers  aged 9 – 99 and make them want to read more!

Why did you pick to write books for Middle Grade readers?

They say that necessity breeds ingenuity. There is truth in that. I was terribly bored when the whole idea of teaching the curriculum through the narrative hit me. As the drone of the “professional development” presenter faded into the background of my thoughts, I started to wish that I had chosen a different session. Suddenly, I realized that I often do the same thing to my students. I bore them. If I wanted to learn from this session, then I needed it to be relevant, engaging, and connected to my teaching practice. That got me thinking: what if this presenter were presenting me with the same information, but it was presented through a story.  Then I would be interested. Suddenly, there it was; the entire concept for Quest Teaching. What if…I  could craft a story that would connect many curriculum concepts throughout the narrative, for my students?

What types of books do you like to read?

I like a real variety of books. Thrillers, true-life stories, and historical fiction rank high with me, but I love fantasy, too! Basically, I am pretty eclectic in my reading tastes. Any book that makes me think about things in a new way will be a hit with me!

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

I enjoy a lot of things. In the summer I golf, and in the winter I curl. During the day I’m a teacher so most of my writing is done in the evening hours or during vacation time. I also like blogging, building my website, and adding cool teaching resources to it that might help other teachers. The artwork is all mine, too, with the exception of the characters of Black Stan and Alistair. I created my own log, the chest, the coins, and all the other characters. Such fun. I love creating!

Tell us about The Ultimate Treasure Quest I: The Jewel of Peru and how the story came to be.

Look up the name Faramund and you will find that it means “journey.” That’s how I got the name of my young main character for The Ultimate Treasure Quest I: The Jewel of Peru. It suited my idea of leading my students on a journey of learning as they were lost in a story. I wanted a young character to lead readers on an incredible journey of intrigue, mystery, danger, and adventure. Though fictional, his character has many of the same qualities, fears, and traits that many twelve-year-old boys would have. The name suits him perfectly as the story opens with him finding out that his parents and ship crew have vanished! While searching the ship for clues as to their whereabouts, he finds an enchanted treasure chest that “chooses him as its captain” and  leads him on a journey to find them and the Ultimate Treasure! As Christopher sets sail as the captain on his father’s ship, the Discovery, he  and his crew of  orphaned stowaways must face their fears and venture into the unknown.  Who knows where they will end up, but I’m sure they will learn a lot along the way!

Here's a peek at The Jewel of Peru:

Their ship is here, but the crew and his parents are gone! What happened to them? The Jewel of Peru is a magical adventure through time, taking young Captain Christopher and his loyal crew of orphaned stowaways on a perilous quest in search of Christopher’s missing parents. 

After his father’s ship is found abandoned at sea, Christopher makes an unexpected discovery on board—The Ultimate Treasure Chest! Inside is a message that beckons him to set sail after the treasure and his parents. When a savage pirate and a corrupt businessman join forces to steal the treasure for themselves, the gang gets caught up in pirate chases, time travel, and an underground network of spies. Will Christopher find the Jewel and his parents or will all be lost forever?


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

I’m working on the sequel to The Jewel of Peru now and hope to have it released later this year. Everybody has been asking for it and I have to get it out there! I’ve also worked on a couple of shorter books that I might put out next year.

What advice do you have for other authors?

At this point I’m mostly trying to get advice and don’t feel all that qualified to give it, but I guess I would say, just enjoy the writing process! Write because you love it and want to share it with others! That way you will be excited about each new project. If even one person out there reads your books and appreciates what you’ve done, it is worth it. Share your gift.

Anything else you want readers to know?

The reason I write is to give them a great experience reading so I would love to hear from them on my website.  Just come and leave me a comment or drop me an email using the gold envelope at the top! I promise I will reply! http://questteaching.com/wordpress/


Where can readers find you and your books?

Here’s my amazon author page: Sharon's Amazon Author Page