Thursday, September 13, 2018

Writing Tips & Say Hello to MG Author Teresa Funke

Before getting to our author interview, I want to share more writing tips from authors I interviewed in 2016. Hope these inspire you! Please feel free to leave your own tip(s) in the comments.

I must have sent out close to 200 queries to agents and publishers regarding The Legend of Koolura. Finally, Solstice Publishing accepted it in 2011 for publication. So my advice to other authors is to NEVER give upMichael Thal, author of MG/YA Koolura Series.

Keep going, keep learning, keep developing. Manage your expectations. Only do it if you love it and want to do the best you canSteve Griffin, author of the MG series

Tuesday, September 4, 2018

Fiona Ingram's WOW! Women on Writing Tour & Review

Welcome today to Fiona Ingram and the WOW Women on Writing Tour of The Temple of the Crystal Timekeeper. The complete tour schedule can be found at The Muffin/WOW.

Carpinello's Writing Pages is excited to be showcasing this latest book in Fiona's series The Chronicles of the Stone. It is a wonderful adventure for all ages and is great as a read aloud for families. 

I've known Fiona for many years now, and we, along with Wendy Leighton-Porter, make up The Quest Authors. Our combined website is Adventure Quest Books. We all write adventure thriller for Middle Grade readers and even manage to hook more mature readers also! We live in different parts of the world: Cheryl (me) in the USA, Fiona in Cyprus (formerly of South Africa, and Wendy in Abu Dhabi.

Today, though, is all about Fiona, so here we go!

First, a bit about Fiona:

Fiona Ingram is a children’s author, but up until a few years ago, she was a journalist and editor. Something rather unexpected sparked her new career as an author—a family trip to Egypt with her mother and two young nephews. They had a great time and she thought she’d write them a short story as a different kind of souvenir…. Well, one book and a planned book series later, she had changed careers. She has now published Book 3 (The Temple of the Crystal Timekeeper) in her middle grade adventure series Chronicles of the Stone, with many awards for the first book, The Secret of the Sacred Scarab, and a also for Book 2, The Search for the Stone of Excalibur, and one already for Book 3!

Fiona also teaches online novel writing for aspiring authors and finds that very satisfying. Relaxation time finds her enjoying something creative or artistic, music, books, theatre or ballet. She loves doing research for her book series. Fiona loves animals and has written two animal rescue stories. She has two adorable (naughty) little dogs called Chloe and Pumpkin, and a beautiful black cat called Bertie.

You can find Fiona at –




Author Site:



Quest Books:

About the Book:

A plane crash! Lost in the jungle! Hunted by their old enemy, will Adam, Justin, and Kim survive long enough to find the Third Stone of Power? With only a young boy, Tukum, as their guide, the kids make their way through the dense and dangerous jungle to find the lost city of stone gods, where the Stone of Power might be located. River rafting on a crocodile-infested river and evading predators are just part of this hazardous task. Of course, their old adversary Dr. Khalid is close behind as the kids press on. But he is not the worst of their problems. This time Adam will clash with a terrible enemy who adopts the persona of an evil Aztec god, Tezcatlipoca, and is keen to revive the ancient tradition of human sacrifice. Adam, Justin, and Tukum must play a dreadful ball game of life and death and maybe survive. Will they emerge alive from the jungle? Will Dr. Khalid find the third Stone of Power before they do?

My Review:

The Chronicles of the Stone series is an adventure-filled ride for middle graders and adults. In Book 1—The Secret of the Sacred Scarab—readers travel through the land of the pharaohs and across the steamy deserts of the mysterious Egypt with Justin and Adam as they search for the first Stone and face a deadly enemy.

In Book 2—The Search for the Stone of Excalibur—readers find themselves dodging not only their enemy Dr. Khalid, but a group called the Eaters of Poison as the boys, joined by young Kim, attempt to capture the second Stone of Power.

Now, in Book 3—The Temple of the Crystal Timekeeper—Fiona once again literally drops readers and her intrepid young seekers of the Stones in the jungles of exotic Mexico where they encounter a familiar enemy and attract the unwanted attention of Smoking Mirror, an enemy who may be even more deadly than Dr. Khalid. Led by one no older than they, the three flee deeper in the jungle as young Tukum vows to led them to the hidden city and possibly the third stone. Be prepared to be thrust into the little known culture of the Aztec, the Mayan, and the uncontacted people in this latest non-stop adventure!

I enjoyed catching up with this group of young adventurers. Non-stop action, danger around every turn, as well as the magic and mystery surrounding the ancient jungles and people of Mexico will be sure to keep readers turning pages. I can't wait to see where we will travel to next!

You can find The Temple of the Crystal Timekeeper and all of Fiona's Chronicles of the Stones books at these and all on-line book sellers:

Amazon US


Thursday, August 9, 2018

Writing Tips & Middle Grade Author Jessie Janowitz

Welcome! Before we meet our author, here are some writing tips from authors I interviewed in August and September, 2016. As always, feel free to leave your own tips in the comments.

Don't waste any time. I came late to writing and wish I could have started in my teensSilke Stein, author of Trina Bell's Humming Summer.

Write what’s close to youSuzanne de Montigny, author of the Shadow of the Unicorn series.

Know why you write and be passionate about following your "Why", for you will encounter many times of discouragement when only your "why" will see you through. Always know, if you're not passionate about your "why" no one else will be eitherL.R.W. Lee, author of Andy Smithton: Vision of the Griffin's Heart.

The best advice I can give is write daily, even if it’s only a few paragraphs and read every chance you getSteve Altier, author of Lizardville - The Ghost Story.

And now

Carpinello's Writing Pages welcomes Jessie Janowitz, a first time middle grade author.

First, a bit about Jessie:

Jessie Janowitz is a graduate of Princeton University’s undergraduate creative writing program and holds a J.D. from University of Pennsylvania Law School. She’s currently enrolled in the Writing for Children MFA program at Vermont College of Fine Arts. This is her debut novel. She lives in New York City with her husband and three children.

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

Two of my kids are in middle school, and I wanted to write the kind of books that they can never get enough of: family stories with a mix of humor and heart.

What types of books do you like to read?

Almost all books for kids. Mostly realistic fiction. I love good historical fiction, particularly ones with a bit of mystery. I love Gennifer Choldenko’s middle grade books, like Al Capone Does My Shirts and Chasing Secrets.

When you are not writing, what do you do?

I’m hanging out with my kids. I have three. I listen to a LOT of audiobooks. I just listened to The Hazel Wood with my kids, and I highly recommend it. I also love to travel with my family. Our last big trip was to India. It was magical, particularly the Himalayas, where we visited Buddhist monasteries.

Tell us about The Doughnut Fix and how the story came to be.

The Doughnut Fix is the story of a 12-year-old boy’s quest to start his own doughnut business in the tiny upstate NY town to which his family has moved from NYC.

There were two real sparks that set me on the path to writing The Doughnut Fix. Strangely perhaps, neither was a doughnut.

Spark #1: Back in 2008--I incubate stories for a long time before I put pen to paper--I witnessed kids being pulled from my son's school mid-year. It was during the financial crisis, and these families' circumstances had changed so drastically and suddenly that they had to leave their homes and community. It was clear that these kids sensed something had gone terribly wrong, but they were never told the complete story. Moving can be traumatic enough, and I wondered what that experience would be like if the decision was taken suddenly, and you knew you weren't getting all the facts.

Spark #2: This sign is in the window of a small market in a very small town I drive through all the time. It always made me laugh and wonder what the story behind it might be. There was something about the store, one that had seen better days, that made me suspect that it didn’t actually have chocolate cream doughnuts, which made the sign so much better, not as a potential doughnut source, of course, but as story material. A lying sign really got my imagination going.

Here's a peek at The Doughnut Fix:

Tristan isn't Gifted or Talented like his sister Jeanine, and he's always been okay with that because he can make a perfect chocolate chip cookie and he lives in the greatest city in the world. But his life takes a turn for the worse when his parents decide to move to middle-of-nowhere Petersville―a town with one street and no restaurants. It's like suddenly they're supposed to be this other family, one that can survive without bagels and movie theaters.

His suspicions about his new town are confirmed when he's tricked into believing the local general store has life-changing chocolate cream doughnuts, when in fact the owner hasn't made them in years. And so begins the only thing that could make life in Petersville worth living: getting the recipe, making the doughnuts, and bringing them back to the town through his very own doughnut stand. But Tristan will soon discover that when starting a business, it helps to be both Gifted and Talented, and It's possible he's bitten off more than he can chew...

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

I’m at work on the sequel to The Doughnut Fix and can’t wait to share it with readers. It will be released in the spring.

What advice do you have for other authors?

Keep going! Revision is a powerful tool, an essential one, but it can also be your enemy. Don’t try to revise until you get to the end. If you keep tinkering on your way to the end of your story, you may never get there. Embrace the flawed first draft!

Anything else you want readers to know?

Yes! I believe (and have observed) kids really responding to the sense of empowerment that my main character Tris attains through his struggle to start his own doughnut business. In fact, it’s inspired me to launch The Doughnut Fix Start-Your-Own-Business Challenge ( so they can experience a bit of that for themselves. There’s an activity kit and a chance to win a prize!

Where can readers find you and your books?

Anywhere books are sold--Barnes and Noble, Amazon, IndieBound, Bam!, etc. To find out more about me and my work, you can visit me on, Twitter, or Facebook.

Wednesday, June 13, 2018

Writing Tips & Meet the Author Duo of HL Carpenter

Welcome back! As always, I am sharing writing tips from authors I interviewed in 2016. Hope these inspire you! Please feel free to leave your own tip(s) in the comments.

The best advice I was given and can pass along is to read widely from the best books, not only in the genre(s) you want to write, but the classics, too. We all absorb patterns of language while reading, so you ought to read the best. While you're reading, write every single day, even if it's only vague notes or a very rough draft. The only way to learn to write well is to write a LOT of words. I wrote story after story and two complete novels (never published, thank goodness) before I ever sold my first short story (about 500,000 total words in seven years). That was back in the "olden days" (1980's and 1990's) and I collected over 600 rejection letters before that first acceptance. No, that's not a typo!—Katy Huth Jones author of the YA fantasy Mercy's Prince.

Write what you love despite the trends. If your heart is in it, the reader will love it tooRita Monette author of the MG adventure The Curse at Pirate's Cove.

Always get your facts straight. And never embellish unless you have to (blush)N.A. Cauldron author of the children's

And now for our author interview!

Carpinello's Writing Pages welcomes the writing team of HL Carpenter and their unique Middle Grade stories.

Here's a bit about HL Carpenter:

Hello, Cheryl! Thanks for sharing your blog space with us! We're happy to be here!

And hello readers! We're delighted you're here! We're HL Carpenter, a mother/daughter author duo. We write family-friendly fiction from our studios in Carpenter Country, a magical place that, like our stories, is unreal but not untrue.

Why did you choose to write books for middle grade and young adult readers?

We're not sure we chose to do that so much as our work simply evolved in that direction. Our books span genres and can be hard to pin down to a particular age group. All our books do have signature similarities: a strong, practical, intelligent female protagonist, a steadfast friend or two with a sense of humor, and a supportive if exasperating family or family substitute. They're all "clean" too. You won't find explicit sex, violence, or foul language in our stories. While we don't whitewash reality—our characters go through real struggles and their worlds are not all helpful chirping bluebirds and good shoes—we strive to create a world where readers of any age are welcome.

What types of books do you like to read?

Probably easier to say which types we don't read—if we could think of any. We're voracious readers. We like books of all genres: Historical, contemporary, mystery, fantasy, self-help, how-to. Sometimes we read two or three different genres at once, in different formats, with one on the e-reader, another in hard copy, and a third in audio version.

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

Besides reading, we love the outdoors. We garden, bird-watch, walk, and journal the activities of the wildlife in Carpenter Country.

Tell us about The Ghost in The Gardens and how the story came to be.

The Ghost in The Gardens sprouted from an article we read about a small botanical garden and a woman who spent her entire working career cataloguing the plants in that single garden. Her dedication was inspiring, and we were awed by the variety of plant life in such a small area and how difficult finding a particular plant is.

Here's a peek at The Ghost in The Gardens:

I had the future planned out.

The ghost was not in the plan.

After the first visit, I still didn't really believe in ghosts. But when she came back the second time, I had to change my mind. I hadn't been dreaming and I wasn't crazy. The only other alternative was: I had seen a ghost.

I started researching ghost visitations. What made them stick around in this world? How did they choose who to haunt? Why had no one ever caught a legitimate sighting on video or made a recording?

Mostly what I learned was that people argued a lot about whether ghosts existed. People who believed in ghosts liked other people who believed in ghosts. People who didn't believe in ghosts thought people who did were crazy.

I was not crazy.

Finding out the answers to my questions about ghosts should have been easy. I had my own personal ghost to ask. But every time she visited me, I couldn't say a word. My thoughts got all tangled and my breath stuck in my throat and I got dizzy. Having my own personal ghost was not helpful. The visits were...creepy. Like are-you-here-because-I'm-going-to-die creepy. Maybe the creep factor was why no one had ever documented a ghost.

I shivered, though I hadn't seen the ghost in hours and cheerful sunlight warmed the early June morning. The Water Garden, a magical green fairyland of trickling streams and arched bridges, closed in around me. Shadows shifted. Bushes rustled.

I'd never seen a ghost before, not even when my dad died. Why had one decided to haunt me now?

"Just lucky, I guess," I said. "What do you think, Barkley?"

My long-legged Schnauzer scratched his ear with his hind foot. 

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

Yeah, we've written a few others. We're compulsive and we can't stop ourselves from writing new stories. :) Counting The Ghost in The Gardens, we currently have eight published works.

Jack and The Fountain of Youth: a new-adult novella about a girl who helps a young man rediscover the fountain of youth so he can reverse the spell he's been under for 500 years.

 The SkyHorse: a fantasy about a girl who finds a mysterious egg that hatches into a flying horse.

 Walled In: the story of Vandy Spencer, a teenager who has everything—and then discovers her father has been involved in a massive fraud.

 Pirate Summer: the story of a teen who has to travel back in time two hundred years to save her brother.

Dream Stealer: a fantasy novelette about a teenager who is expected to carry on the family business of stealing dreams, even though she doesn't want to.

 A Cause for Murder: a cozy mystery novel featuring a septuagenarian sleuth who solves a murder at her retirement community.

The Demise of Fyne Literature: a short story about fighting the demons within.

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

We're taking a brief break as we begin introducing The Ghost in The Gardens to the world.

In terms of writing work-in-process calling for our attention, we're waiting to hear back from a publisher on a cozy mystery, we're nearly done with the first draft of a themed collection of short stories, and we're in the revision stage of a collection of contemporary satire. We have a futuristic novella ready for re-release, and a couple of completed cozies for adult readers that we're thinking of publishing as a series, along with novellas featuring the same characters.

What advice do you have for other authors?

Write what you enjoy writing. Find your trigger—that is, find a theme or a plot or a character that sparks your imagination and makes you smile. If you try to write what's popular or what sells, your writing will suffer. Ask how we know—go ahead! :)

If you have a story to tell, tell it. Then put it in a drawer and go study authors whose books you love. Ask yourself what draws you to those stories. Write or type out passages that resonate with you. After a couple of months of immersing yourself in your favorite books, take your manuscript out of storage, and read it with fresh eyes. Revise it based on what you've learned. Repeat the process at least once more.

Anything else you want readers to know?

Once upon a time, we shared Carpenter Country with a horse whose sire was a movie star. But that's a story for another day.

Where can readers find you and your books?

The central hub for all Carpenter Country adventures is, where you'll find links to our social media and author pages, free reads, audio excerpts, reader's guides, and photo-essay updates of the latest happenings in our neck of the human experience.

Release date for The Ghost in The Gardens: June 17, 2018

Pre-order links:


Mirror World (ebook):

Mirror World (paperback print):