Wednesday, April 21, 2021

Meet MG Author Deema T. Kheiry

Carpinello's Writing Pages tries to include a variety of authors in our interviews. While we focus on children's/MG/YA authors, we do try to find authors from around the world to introduce to our readers. Today we visit with Deema T. Kheiry, a middle grade author from a part of the world unfamiliar to many of us. Please join me in welcoming Deema to Carpinello's Writing Pages.
First, here's a bit about Deema:
Hello there, I’m Deema! Ever since I was a little girl, I have loved immersing myself in a great book. A wonderful story can take you anywhere in the world, or even out of this world! Now, as a mother of two young girls, I have come to realize that it is more important than ever to create stories that develop a sense of self and encourage kids to love reading and learning new things, all while putting a smile on their faces and a glint in their eyes. When I am not hanging out with my family and friends, there is nothing I like more than to bring these magical stories to life, one word at a time! I have lived in and visited a lot of countries around the world throughout my life, but for the past thirteen years Dubai, UAE has been my home. It is where I spend time with my family, and where I dream up new magical stories to share with all of you…

Why did you pick to write books for MG readers?

Middle-Grade books encompass innocence, magic, and bright-eyed wonder. But, at the same time, they are the start of learning about more serious topics that exist in the world. For those who want a little bit of both, Middle-Grade is the best place to be.

What types of books do you like to read, and what do you do when you are not writing?

I love a good mystery myself. And I love to read books that take me into another world. Seeing how far the imagination can wander has always been fascinating to me. When I'm not writing, I enjoy spending time with my husband and two young girls. I also enjoy getting together with friends, seeing nature in all its beauty, and reading great books.

Tell us about The Book of Astoriya-The Land of the Blooming Forest and how the story came to be.
The Book of Astoriya-The Land of the Blooming Forest is book one of a four-book series. It actually started out as an attempt to write a short story for my daughter, then it just grew, and grew, and grew. And now here we are, a couple years later, with The Book of Astoriya Series!
What was important for me when writing the story was to have the main character, Sofie, as relatable to kids her age as possible. While there is plenty of magic and fantasy involved, Sofie, herself, uses her love of science and the things she has learned to get her through some sticky situations. Although it is subtle, I am hoping that this message will help kids to realize that the love of learning is magical in its own right.

Here's a peek at The Book of Astoriya-The Land of the Blooming Forest:

The Lands of Astoriya have been unveiled,
A magical journey shall be revealed…

Eleven-year-old Sofie is lost! What started out as an ordinary visit to the Community Library, ended with her thrust into a world that she never thought possible.
Armed only with the strange, dust-ridden book that sent her there, Sofie grapples to find her way back home.
But not all is as it seems in the Land of the Blooming Forest. Jasmine, Queen of the Fairies, needs help to save the land from a vicious, relentless enemy that seeks to plunge them all into a world of darkness. And Sofie is their only hope.
Follow Sofie as she fights to save The Land of the Blooming Forest, makes a few magical friends along the way, and discovers the long-hidden secret of Astoriya, and a secret of her own that she never knew she had…
How do you go about researching for your stories?
Most of the ideas I get for the stories I write are from glimpses of the experiences around me. I usually start out with an idea in my head, and as I start to write, it develops organically, as though the story wants to write itself.
Plenty of what I write is fictional, but when it comes to any facts that are written into the story, it is very important to me that they are accurate and factual. So, I do a lot of research from multiple sources to confirm those facts and then try to tie it all up in an easy-and-fun-to-read little bow.
Have you written other books? If so, tell us a bit about them.

The Book of Astoriya-The Land of the Blooming Forest is my first published novel. It has been quite the roller-coaster ride, and there is still plenty more to come!

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

Right now, I’m finalizing book two of The Book of Astoriya Series, The Book of Astoriya-The Land of the Everlasting Sun. Once I’ve completed all four books, I’ll start work on another series I have in mind which will be a mixture of science fiction, mystery, and adventure. It will be set in the not-so-familiar historical places around the world to help bring attention to our deeply vast history.
What advice do you have for other authors?

Patience. Definitely, patience. It takes a lot of time and effort to write (and then rewrite) a good book. As tempted as an author is to put a book out there as quickly as possible, it is best to take the time to perfect it. It will all be worth it in the end.

Anything else you want readers to know?

If you are already reading Cheryl’s blog, then you already know just how incredible reading great books can be. So, all I have left to say is to keep doing what you’re doing, and enjoy the journey!

Where can readers find you and your books?

You can find more about me and my books on my website and social media pages, as well as subscribe for updates:


The Book of Astoriya-The Land of the Blooming Forest is currently available as an E-book, a full color illustrated paperback and a grayscale paperback. You can find them on Amazon, as well as other marketplaces.

For a full list of marketplaces, you can visit this link here:
Find My Books | Deema Kheiry- Author

Thursday, April 8, 2021

Meet MG Author Kathleen Jae

Carpinello's Writing Pages is excited to host Kathleen Jae on her Pump Up Your Book Tour for her very first novel, but not her first book. Please welcome her and be sure to leave encouraging comments. Don't forget to read all the way to the end for something special.

First, a bit about Kathleen:
Elanora and the Salt Marsh Mystery is Kathleen Jae’s first novel. She has been writing in one form or another for over twenty years. Her greatest success story is her daughter, and their autism journey is chronicled in Kathleen’s first book, From Prompting to Shaping to Letting Go: My Love Affair With ABA and How Being a “Bad Mom” Helped My Daughter With Autism Succeed. Two of Kathleen’s short stories made it to the finals of the 2017 Florida Writers Association Royal Palm Literary Award competition.
Why did you pick to write books for middle-grade readers?
I never set out to write for middle-grade readers. In fact, I did not realize there was such a label when I began Elanora and the Salt Marsh Mystery. I knew my protagonist would be a chipmunk, and in the beginning, I had no idea the book would surpass 150 pages. It kind of evolved, so that when it was finished I knew the readers would probably be about ten years old to fourteen or fifteen. But in reality, middle-grade readers range in age from about eight to twelve.
What types of books do you like to read, and what do you do when you’re not writing? 
I can find so little time for reading strictly for fun! When I am reading, it’s something historical to research for the sequel to an upcoming book, Island Times Three (a historical detective mystery that takes place on Manhattan and Sanibel Islands) or browsing the internet to search for material to use in the sequel to Elanora and the Salt Marsh Mystery. The book I am reading for Island Times Three is The NYPD’s First Years by Bernard and Jon Whalen. When I’m not writing, I am outside as much as possible, gardening or hanging with our dogs.
Tell us about Elanora and the Salt Marsh Mystery and how the story came to be. 

My family and I have visited Sanibel Island in Florida a lot over the past 20 years. About five years ago we decided to take a kayaking tour in Tarpon Bay. At one point, our guide began to talk about the red-mangroves and how they are destroyed to make room for development. While I sat listening, I pictured a chipmunk standing on a red mangrove branch, and I came up with a premise: a young chipmunk protects the red mangroves from destruction.
Here's a peek at Elanora and the Salt Marsh Mystery:

Dangers lurk both high and low,
Marauders, curs, moggies too.
When darkness comes, we must not go,
And wait for light’s renew!
Elanora’s mother uttered the verse daily, just as her mother’s mother had told it to her, so who was Elanora to question it? It gave her shivers when she heard the serious way her mother told it, as if every menacing creature mentioned in the verse were waiting just outside their burrow, ready to pounce on them for daring to leave the safety of their home. The first time her mother recited it, Elanora was busy studying the stripes on the back of her sister Vala. All of them had these same stripes, even her mother, but Elanora thought them quite unnecessary.
“One…two…three…” she counted, poking hard at each line, until her sister screamed for her to stop. Elanora was quietly scolded, as it was normally a time for rest. She promised herself to ask her mother about the stripes at feasting time, for she had an almost vital need to know things.
“Please tell me now—why do we have these silly stripes on our backs?” Elanora asked her mother this question after they arrived at the edge of a clearing where the cobbings grew on the popple trees. She pulled a piece of cobbing from the tree and shoved it in her mouth. Her sisters and brothers foraged around her, and she had never heard them complain about the ugly and slimy things. But Elanora thought they tasted like dirt, and their shape reminded her of the lily pads she had seen in the pond that was not far from their home. Elanora accepted the tops, but she had long ago rejected the stems for she thought they made her tummy hurt. At least that is what she told to all who would listen.
Her mother smiled at Elanora’s question. “Hava has used her wisdom once again with the creation of our stripes. You noticed they are different colors, yes?”
Elanora nodded.
“That is so we are one with everything else she has created.”
“Look at your brother there,” she directed, pointing to Calum. “You must use your eyes skillfully to see him among the leaves and the twigs and the ground.”
Elanora tried to observe the scene in an open-minded way and decided that her mother was right: when Calum was still he seemed to disappear.
Elanora nodded. “I agree, Mother. But if Hava has done this good thing, why did she also create the defyers—those awful creatures who watch for us and take us away with their sharp claws?”
Her mother stopped eating and frowned at Elanora. “You are asking too many questions! We will leave that for another outing!”
She had been told such things before, like when she would ask why the water fell from the sky or why the brightness left and the darkness arrived at the same time. She knew her queries annoyed her family, but she could not help herself. That was why she loved to talk to Damhan. He answered her questions thoughtfully and always welcomed more.
That eventide, Elanora asked if she might explore the nearby pond the next brightness, and her mother agreed. Just as the light pushed through the tops of the trees, Elanora’s mother received a report of a cur wandering near the rock wall. After securing a promise from her daughter that she would not be away long, Sorcha gave Elanora permission to leave the nest.
She peeked from the opening of their burrow. Elanora loved the cozy home she shared with her family, and her mother once told them that she had lived in the same burrow when she was a youngster. The tiny entrance was at the bottom of a tall honey tree, and once inside, Elanora had to turn to the right, climb up two steps, and turn left. A feathered creature had bored a hole through the bark at this point, and Elanora loved to watch the brightness of the moon push through the opening and into their burrow, and it was the last thing she saw before falling asleep.
The other part of the burrow, one that Elanora did not like, was under the ground. Its entrance was just beyond the steps, and the tunnel that led downward was narrow. They sometimes slept in a nest in one of the larger pockets, usually after hearing the cries of a moggie.
Dangers lurk both high and low,
Marauders, curs, moggies too.
When darkness comes, we must not go,
And wait for light’s renew! 
How do you go about researching for your stories? 

During my initial online research for Elanora and the Salt Marsh Mystery, I discovered chipmunks are not naturally found in Southwest Florida, and at the same time I found out that the other main characters, namely the round-tailed muskrats, are not normally found in red mangrove forests. I had to pick up my characters and move them someplace else, and since salt marshes are sandwiched between freshwater marshes and red-mangrove forests, it was a logical place for the book’s setting. In the course of additional research, I found a site that explained how to drain a salt marsh and how it affects the water and, therefore, the animals who live there. I bought a few books online that explained the salt marsh ecosystem, and they were helpful.

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

The first book I published is called From Prompting to Shaping to Letting Go: My Love Affair With ABA and How Being a “Bad Mom” Helped My Daughter With Autism Succeed. It’s about the journey my daughter and I took after we received her autism diagnosis at the age of three, her ensuing behavioral program I set up and her many achievements over the years.
What’s next for your writing? Are you working on a new story?

I’ve started the sequel to Elanora and the Salt Marsh Mystery, and Island Times Three should be released in August.
What advice do you have for other authors? 

If an idea comes to you, and you think it will make a good book, just start it. Do some research—enough to get some pages down. I find that when I start writing, the ideas about where my characters go and what they say just flows. Write until the ideas slow. Then walk away for a little while. Think about what you have written. I have worked this way many times, and I might be cleaning or gardening and thinking about the story, and an idea will just pop into my head.
Anything else you want readers to know? 

I want to thank illustrator Lori Taylor, Editor Lisa Gilliam and Graphic Designer Peter Chiappetta for their hard work and skills in bringing Elanora to life.
Where can readers find you and your books? 

To purchase a print version of Elanora and the Salt Marsh Mystery, click here, and From Prompting to Shaping to Letting Gohere.
Readers can email me at and




Kathleen Jae is giving away a $50 Amazon Gift Card
One Printed Canvas Bag
(Canvas Bag Includes one plushie muskrat (Beathas, Lachi and the rest of the colony); one plushie chipmunk (Elanora); one plushie gray squirrel (Nara); one roseate spoonbill photo transfer hanging by Etsy shop owner FeelinGroovyPhotos (Moira and Muirreal); one framed manatee art print by Etsy shop owner SammWehmanArt (sea cow); one cormorant printed tea towel by Etsy shop owner HearthandHarrow (Pelles); one yellow-crowned night heron signed printed note card by Etsy shop owner BlueHenCraft (Morven); one set of 5 vintage bobcat postage stamps by Etsy shop owner AxmxZ (bullycat); one red-tailed hawk applique iron-on patch by Etsy shop owner PatchParlor (defyer); one reusable shopping bag adorned with assorted forest animals including red fox (oppect), white tailed deer (Damhan), rabbit (quidge) and owl (maurauder); one bird-watching notebook with blue jay (Jae) on front; two signed copies of Elanora and the Salt Marsh Mystery and two Elanora bookmarks.)
Terms & Conditions:
By entering the giveaway, you are confirming you are at least 18 years old.
One winner will be chosen via Rafflecopter to receive $50 Amazon Gift Card & one winner will be chosen to win tote bag.
This giveaway ends midnight April 30.
Winner will be contacted via email on May 1.
Winner has 48 hours to reply.
Good luck everyone!

Wednesday, March 24, 2021

Meet MG Author Cheryl Kerr

Carpinello's Writing Pages is excited to bring you a first-time MG author, but not a first-time author. Cheryl Kerr was born in Texas. Her childhood was split between Texas and Air Force bases. She raised her family in Texas and currently lives in and writes from the Texas Hill Country.
Here's more about Cheryl:
Hi, readers! My name is Cheryl Kerr and I write for young readers and adults. I write stories that focus on my characters finding their own way. My experience at work and as a parent led me to work with many children in challenging home or life situations, some living away from their families, some not having them. I write my characters to face similar events and find their way through them by being resourceful and a good character. Growing up, books held some of the people I truly connected with, and there is such comfort in knowing where you can find your friends. I have books now that have soft pages from so many readings. Many adult readers tell me the same thing, that they have treasured books, too. I write for all those readers, who find a good story and a good character to be someone to keep.
Why did you pick to write for Middle-Grade readers?

I chose Middle-Grade with 12 as the pivotal age between middle-grade and Young Adult. There is such a change that happens as growth goes from childhood to learning decisions and responsibilities that are their own to make. I was lucky to get to know quite a few young people and watch them on their journey to growing up.

What types of books do you like to read, and what do you do when you are not writing?

I like books with strong, resourceful characters who have a personal code of how they see and do right and wrong, how other people should be treated. I enjoy travel essays, finding the change in perspective that comes with distance from a usual, immediate environment really does result in a different answer or thought process.

Tell us about SandPeople, and how the story came to be.

The Texas Coast is a place of shifting sands, supposed treasure, and the thrill of pirate legends. When twelve-year-old Lea McKinney comes to the tiny fishing village to spend the summer with her aunt, she is searching for a place of her own. 
SandPeople came to be from watching children learn to handle things they could not change like Covid, a family change due to divorce, and a summer away from home. The timing of handling such difficulties during Covd happened to coincide with what many children and students were dealing with as the stay-at-home lockdowns were put in place and then extended. 

Here's a peek at SandPeople:

Downstairs Lea's mother waited on the couch with T.J. beside her. Lea chose an overstuffed hassock next to the fireplace and sank cross-legged into its softness. Dad went and sat at the far end of the couch from Mom. Both of them looked at Lea solemnly. Lea's stomach felt funny. Sort of like being worried about a test, only worse, she thought.

"Lea," Dad started and then stopped. He looked at Mom. "You better do this," he said. He got up and walked to the windows and stood looking out with his hands in his pockets. Mom looked after him and sighed, shaking her dark-blond head.

"Lea, how would you like to go somewhere this summer?" Mom's voice was brittle-bright. It always got that way when she was trying to convince Lea that something was good for her.

"All of us together?" Lea asked and eyed her parents. It seemed like a funny time to be planning a trip. Neither of them seemed to be in a very happy mood. They both looked at her and the silence stretched out. Lea squeezed her hands hard between her knees.

"No-o." Mom drew the word out. Her voice was high, like it got when she wanted Lea to see her point when they disagreed. "Just us, you and me. To Texas. Dad and T.J. are going to go to Grandma and Grandpa's."

"Texas?" Lea asked, puzzled. "We don't know anyone in Texas."

"Your Aunt Meg has a cabin there, on the Gulf of Mexico, for the summer." Mom said.

"Oh," Lea said, still not understanding. Aunt Meg was Mom's younger sister. She was an artist who spent part of each year traveling. Lea didn't know her very well.

"Why?" Lea asked. Summers had always been bike rides on dirt roads, clamming, and long, slow evenings watching sailboats against on the horizon.

Mom looked at Dad and hesitated.

"Why?" Lea repeated, a lump in her stomach.
"Well, you're going to stay with her this summer." Mom said. "We both have things this summer that we need to do."

"We're not going to be together," Mom said. "For awhile."

Dad took a deep breath then and turned back to face the room. "Lea. T.J. We're separating, your mom and I."

Lea looked from one to the other. Both of them looked sad but also kind of relieved.

"Did I do something?" she asked them. 
How did you go about researching SandPeople?

I research each of them as I work through the story so that they are real, all of them are based in fact and accurate for history or how the mystery is solved. For SandPeople, I researched coastal legends and ghost stories, shipwrecks, immigration to Texas, Texas history, middle-grade and family feelings and emotions. This meant trips to museums, reading narratives and diaries of individuals as they came to settle Texas, and researching the European towns or areas they came from so I could understand what brought them to sail to an unsettled place for a new life in 1840’s Texas.

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

Yes, I have two other books published.

See Ya is set around World War II and the German Prisoner of War camps that were here in the United States during the war. It is the story of what war does to people. And families.

Photofinish is a mystery set around horse-racing and is the story of two people who learned to be a family and the incredible love they had for each other. It is also about horses, good training and the pig who helps solve the mystery of the grandfather’s murder.

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

Yes, I am working on finishing another adult novel, planning my next Middle Grade book in the Across Time Mystery series, and a picture book.

What advice do you have for other authors?

I write fiction so my comments relate to that. Write what you know and feel. All my books say something about getting through hard circumstances. My characters face something and find their own answers without harming other people.

Read books so that you find what you connect with. I love books that say something to me about good character and bravery.

I learn a lot from rewriting, too, do not be afraid to try something a few different ways. If you are writing fiction, it is your story, well, yours and your characters, who sometimes will set the direction.

Anything else you want readers to know?

I have found some of my best friends and moments in books. Books do not have to be long to be excellent. I keep the ones I treasure and share many, especially when a book reminds me of someone I know so we can chat about what we enjoyed about the story.

Thank you for letting me share about my writing world! I welcome hearing from readers, at either my website or Facebook page.

Where can readers find you and your books?

Thursday, March 18, 2021

The Temple of the Crystal Timekeeper Blog Tour

Carpinello's Writing Pages is excited to be a stop on Fiona Ingram's Blog Tour for her exciting Middle Grade adventure story The Temple of the Crystal Timekeeper. It is the third book in The Chronicles of the Stone series.

About the Book:

Author: Fiona Ingram

Publisher: Bublish Inc.

Pages: 318

Genre: Juvenile (preteen) / Action / Adventure

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?
About the Author:
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, a few for Book 2, The Search for the Stone of Excalibur, and several for Book 3! She also teaches online novel writing for aspiring authors and she finds that very satisfying. Fiona’s experience with raising an adopted, disadvantaged African child struggling with literacy got her interested in the subject and she has written numerous articles on child literacy. Relaxation time finds her enjoying something creative or artistic, music, books, going to the theater or ballet. She enjoys doing research for her book series. Fiona loves animals and has written two animal rescue stories. She has two adorable (naughty) little rescue dogs called Stanley and Pumpkin, and a beautiful black cat called Bertie.
“Action, danger, and excitement are the key words for the riveting adventure novel, The Temple of the Crystal Timekeeper ... Its spellbinding storyline explores the history of the Aztec and Maya gods and their cities with exceptional accuracy; this is one of those books you can’t put down. With authentic historical facts expertly woven into this spectacular action-packed fiction series, no one of any age can resist its magnetism. This is a fascinating and exciting fiction story created with expertise and finesse, which educates while entertaining the reader.”
— Susan Williams, for Readers Favorite

USA Book Awards:
• Winner Pre-teen Readers’ Favorite Book Awards 2017
• Winner Book Excellence Awards 2018
•  NYC Big Book Awards Distinguished Favorite 2018

Read the first chapter and receive a free download of The Young Explorer’s Companion Guide, a nonfiction guide to the journey and cover history, geography, mythology and subject kids will love to learn more about. In this guide, your child will discover the story behind The Temple of the Crystal Timekeeper and experience the history of the Maya and Aztecs as well as ind out who was the ancient priest-king Topiltzin and why he is important.

Click here to read the first chapter and download your free copy of The Young Explorer’s Companion Guide!

Book Excerpt:

A guard turned Adam round to face Smoking Mirror again. It was horrible being so close to this evil man. He seemed like a giant, and his gaze bored into Adam as he leaned down from his throne to stare at Adam. His eyes were cold, hard, and utterly pitiless.

“Oh, but he is very … very special. In fact, quite extraordinary. I did not realize the true significance before, but now I see it.” Smoking Mirror spoke in a silky whisper as he stared fixedly at Adam. “You see, this boy has the fire hair and the pale skin of the god Quetzalcoatl who came to my land from far across the sea. This boy also bears the mark of an ancient civilization, yes?”

“Er … yes,” said Dr. Khalid in a sulky tone, shooting a quick, angry glance at Adam that seemed to say, “Now look what you’ve done!”

“In fact, the mark is from your civilization, no?”

“No … er, I mean, yes,” Dr. Khalid gabbled. “It is the ankh, the sign of life.”

“The sign of life?” Smoking Mirror shouted. “Then we will extinguish that life!”

He leaped up and screamed an announcement in the people’s language. The crowd remained silent except for a few women who began crying. But not a minute later, a deep collective groan arose from the gathering. Smoking Mirror’s warriors cheered and clattered their weapons against their shields as he continued with his speech.
Adam turned his head a little to one side, trying to catch Tukum’s eye. “What’s he saying?” he whispered, although he sensed already that it was bad.
Tukum’s head drooped. “He says this is the ultimate battle, because you represent the Aztec god Quetzalcoatl, or Kukulkan to the Maya. He says the game will prove who is the ultimate winner.”
Adam could hardly speak. His heart had begun pounding so hard it felt like a hammer against his ribs. He was breathless for a moment. This was the confrontation Kotz had spoken of, but it would be impossible to defeat Tezcatlipoca.
“So he thinks we’ll lose?” Adam asked.
“Yes,” said Tukum.
“What if we win?” asked Justin. “It’s possible.”
Tukum gave him a despairing look. “How can we win?”