Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Meet Children's Author Kathy Sattem Rygg

Author Kathy Sattem Rygg joins us today. Learn a bit about her and her children's book Animal Andy.

Kathy, why did you pick to write books for Middle Grade readers?

Middle grade and especially younger middle grade seems to just come naturally to me. Maybe it’s because my own kids fall into this age group so I’m around it all the time, but the dialogue is easy for me to write. I’ve tried writing YA and adult and found both very frustrating, so I just stick to what I know. And my books always have a little bit of magic to them because were my favorite types of books to read growing up.

What types of books do you like to read?
I read a lot of middle grade as a way to study my genre, but my favorite is historical fiction. Tracy Chevalier (Girl with a Pearl Earring) is my favorite author. She writes the most amazing historical fiction novels.

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

When my kids have a day off school, I love taking them on outings—to the zoo, the museum, the pottery place, etc. We go to lunch afterward and make a whole day out of it. I also love date nights with my husband where we get a babysitter for the kids and go out for some great sushi (we love food!) or to see a movie. I’m very close to my mother, and we try to have a lunch and shopping day together once a month which is also lots of fun.

Tell us about ANIMAL ANDY and how the story came to be.
As I mentioned before, my kids and I love going to the zoo, and we have one of the best zoos in the nation here in Omaha. My son is fascinated by tigers, and one day we had a conversation about what it would be like to be a tiger. That inspired me to explore writing a book about a boy who turned into different animals. Our zoo also has a beautiful menagerie carousel my kids like to ride. During another zoo visit, I decided a carousel would be a great magical device to turn my main character into animals. 

Animal Andy is a great book for kids ages 7-10, both boys and girls. There are some great animal characters, so anyone who likes animal stories, adventure, and a little magic thrown in will enjoy this book! 

Here is a teaser from Animal Andy. 

Ten-year-old Andy Ohman is spending his summer working at the Aksarben City Zoo where his dad is curator. There are rumors the city might close the zoo due to budget cuts. An anonymous donor has given the zoo an antique animal carousel, and Andy’s dad is hopeful it will help boost attendance. Andy’s doubtful that an old kiddie ride will make a difference. He doesn’t see what’s so special about it. But when he takes it for a spin, he unlocks the magic that will help save the zoo. 

Have you written other books? If so, tell us a bit about them.
I have a children’s chapter book available called Tall Tales With Mr. K. It is about a magical third grade teacher who takes his students on adventures in the teacher’s lounge. They are kidnapped by pirates, learn the flying trapeze at a circus, and solve a jewelry heist. It’s a fun, humorous book for kids in first through third grades. I’ve had so many requests from readers for a sequel that book two will be out early next year.
What’s next for your writing? Are you working on a new story?

I’m currently working on a middle grade adventure series that involves the sport of geocaching. I have the manuscript for book one complete and am writing book two.

What advice do you have for other authors?
There are so many publishing options these days, don’t think you have to be traditionally published to find success. Smaller independent publishers such as Muse It Up are wonderful, and self-publishing is a great option for books that don’t quite fit into traditional molds. Just make sure you still use professional editors and cover designers to ensure the highest quality. With so many books on the market today, focus on finding your own little niche to start. I’m having tons of fun visiting my local schools and public libraries. I’d much rather be a big fish (or at least medium-sized fish) in a little pond!

Where can readers find you and your books?

Animal Andy is published by Muse It Up Publishing. The ebook is available online at the Muse Bookstore. The print version is available on Amazon.

Tall Tales With Mr. K is available in print on Amazon and as an ebook on Smashwords.

Kathy Rygg’s blog site is http://ksrwriter.blogspot.com
Follow her on Facebook under KSR Writer
Follow her on Twitter @kathyrygg

About Kathy:
Kathy Sattem Rygg is an author, freelance writer, and editor. She earned a degree in magazine journalism from Iowa State University and has worked in corporate marketing for several Fortune 500 companies. Additionally, she worked at the McGraw-Hill Companies’ Business Publications Division in New York City and was the Editor in Chief of Women’s Edition magazine in Denver, CO. She is currently the Editor in Chief of the children’s online magazine knowonder! and lives in Omaha, NE., with her husband and two children.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012


Here's something a little different for this week: A  peek at Lyndi Alexander's series.

If you were walking down the street and came across a real glass slipper, what would you do?

            This is the question Jelani Marsh faces, on a day when everything else that could go wrong has gone wrong. Her car’s been towed, she’s late for work, she’s had a fight with her ex-boyfriend—and then this glass slipper appears in her path. When her friend Iris dares her to try it on, she does. But it’s not exactly a prince that greets her:

            Iris climbed off the bike, put down the kickstand. “What is that?” She bent down near the object. “Oh, sweet Gaia! It’s a glass slipper!”
            No kidding. It really appeared to be a shoe made out of glass. A large one. “Who would have left this here?” Jelani picked it up, looking around for a prankster camera team. But something kept her from tossing it.
            “Try it on,” Iris whispered. “If you’re not chicken, anyway.”
            “Don’t even go there.”
            “Chicken. Bawk BAWK.” Iris giggled.
            “Fine! If it means I can get to work.” She reached down with her right hand and unzipped her boot, kicked it off. “Ready? You want a picture?”
            Iris dug for her cellphone and raised it, ready to take a shot. “Just in case your prince shows up right then.”
            Unbelievable. “I don’t need a prince. I don’t need a man! I need a new life.” Jelani set the shoe on the ground and slipped her foot in. She gently stepped down, not sure what she expected. The slipper shattered, slicing into the sole of her foot.
            Nauseous, Jelani screamed and could only watch in disbelief as tiny men sprang from the blood trickling under the broken shoe. She lost track of how many. The biggest maybe two inches high, they scattered into the shadows around the building next to them and disappeared. She lifted her foot, shaking off the remnants, and examined her foot to see if glass remained buried in her skin.
            “Did you…see that?” Iris gasped, nearly breathless. She grabbed at the wall, eyes closed a moment.
            Jelani felt faint, too, suddenly washed out. “I—I don’t know.” There were no fragments in her foot, or anywhere-- the shoe had vanished. The only trace of the whole incident was dark blood on the sidewalk, slowly drying in the sun. The cuts in her foot healed as she watched. What the hell?
            Iris knelt down to peer at Jelani’s foot. “There were little…people. Naked, hairless little people. They ran away. I swear they did.”
            “Did you get pictures?”
            “I almost forgot!” Iris got up and activated the screen on her cell, pressed the arrow. Jelani leaned close to watch the whole thing replay in living color. “Oh. Bless. My. God,” Iris said, in her shock reverting to the male deity.
            Jelani nodded. “And the horse He rode in on.”

            This event, depicted in The Elf Queen, triggers a change in Jelani’s life she never expected, as she learns that much of her past has been a lie, and she must delve into old family secrets, including the deaths of her parents, to find out the truth. Her few friends stand by her, oddballs and loners like she is, eventually becoming involved in a great adventure: the resolution of a twenty-five year civil war among a clan of elves who live in the mountains of the Bitterroot in western Montana.

            The Elf Child carries the story onward, as Jelani and her chosen mate, Astan Hawk, try to pull together the shreds of the elf clan, still in pieces after a political split over tradition. Those on the outside and those on the inside continue to skirmish, as forces within the clan itself scheme to have their way with their new young queen. Jelani must choose between her clan and her human friends, before she is lost forever:

            The moment Astan Hawk accepts his clan's challenge to protect the young Elf Queen Jelani, trouble dogs his heels. Jelani's human upbringing clashes with clan tradition, spurring dangerous intrigues within the Circle of Elders. Soon even the motives of Astan's father, Daven, come into question. With nowhere else to turn within the clan, Astan has no choice but to ask Jelani's human friends for help. But paranoid hermit Crispy, empathetic social worker Iris, and computer whiz Lane complicate Jelani's unexpected pregnancy and her attempts to rule the clan. And hiding in shadows, outcast Grigor Biren plots revenge for the loss of his mentor by seeking the help of powerful elf mages who live deep within the forest. Can Astan fulfill his promise to keep Jelani safe when the whole world seems to have turned against them?

            Book Three, THE ELF MAGE, begins as the clan is in disarray. The newborn prince is missing, the Circle of Elders scattered, and the queen and her mate are in hiding, unsure which side to trust.  Enter Jelani’s geek friend Lane Donatelli, a former foster home resident and online gamer, who is pulled into the conflict of the elves with his roommate Ron “Crispy” Mendell. Lane devises a plan, with the help of some clan members, to enlist the help of his online game persona, an eight-foot Orc named Xiomar. All he needs is a little magic to conjure him into the real world, and he’s sure the civil war’s tide will turn.

            Although things don’t quite turn out that way…


          The fourth book in the series, THE ELF GUARDIAN, will be out in 2013, and tells the story of what happens several years after the war, when a down-on-her-luck ghost hunter decides she’ll make her tv comeback studying the Montana Vortex—but finds the hidden elf clan instead. It will take all the magic—and cunning—the elves and humans can muster to save themselves from the kind of exposure that would destroy their peaceful world.

About Lyndi Alexander

Lyndi Alexander dreamed for many years of being a spaceship captain, but settled instead for inspired excursions into fictional places with fascinating companions from her imagination that she likes to share with others. She has been a published writer for over thirty years, including seven years as a reporter and editor at a newspaper in Homestead, Florida. Her list of publications is eclectic, from science fiction to romance to horror, from tech reporting to television reviews. Lyndi is married to an absent-minded computer geek. Together, they have a dozen computers, seven children and a full house in northwestern Pennsylvania.

Find out more about Lyndi Alexander and this series at http://lyndialexander.wordpress.com/the-clan-elves-of-the-bitterroot-series/ or http://clanelvesofthebitterroot.com/

Please feel free to ask questions about the books, characters, upcoming booksignings and anything else that fascinates you about the Clan Elves.

All Lyndi's books are available from Dragonfly Publishing, Inc., Amazon.com, Barnes and Noble.com, Smashwords, ITunes, Kobo.

Watch the book trailer for The Elf Queen at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9ASCJ8H5wO4

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Meet Fiona Ingram, Award-Winning Children's Author

Please welcome children's author Fiona Ingram to Carpinello's Writing Pages. I met Fiona about two years ago after reading her book Secret of the Sacred Scarab. We discovered that our writing interests are similar - ancient Egypt and the Legendary King Arthur. Fiona and I share writing tips, marketing ideas, and plan to team up in 2013 for an exciting joint marketing venture when her next book The Search for the Stone of Excalibur is published.

Fiona, please tell us a bit about yourself.

I am a South African children’s author. Up until a few years ago, I was a journalist and editor. Something rather unexpected sparked my new career as an author—a family trip to Egypt with my mother and two young nephews. We had a great time and I thought I’d write them a short story as a different kind of souvenir…. Well, one book and a planned book series later, I had changed careers. I am well into the third book in my MG adventure series Chronicles of the Stone, with a movie option signed for Book One (The Secret of the Sacred Scarab), and the editing process under way for Book Two (The Search for the Stone of Excalibur). 

Why did you pick to write books for MG?

My two nephews who inspired the young heroes of my story were 10 and 12 at the time. Their excitement, their wonder, and amazement at everything we saw in Egypt opened my eyes to the magical age of middle graders. They still believe in the incredible possibilities of life, and their viewpoint is refreshing and enchanting.  

What types of books do you like to read?

I read just about anything but I’m not keen on chick lit (I find it improbable) and (I confess) Young Adult because the main characters are usually intensely self-absorbed. I love detective, mystery, historical, and archaeological thrillers. I also enjoy political thrillers and 19th century writers.

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

I feel so guilty when I am not writing—it’s like having permanent homework—that I keep finding excuses to get back to the computer. However, I love movies, musical and dance theatre, actually any kind of shows, travel, art, reading, enjoying my beautiful home and my pets. Lest I forget, dining out only at restaurants that have the best desserts in town.

The Secret of the Sacred Scarab has proven to be an award-winning story. Tell us about it.

As I mentioned earlier, my writing career veered sharply in another direction after my trip to Egypt. It started off as a short story for my two nephews and then just grew into a book, another book idea, and finally a series. It was impossible to save the world in one book! The Secret of the Sacred Scarab is a middle grade children’s adventure, filled with action, mystery, history (yes!), geography, archaeology, and all the kind of hands-on/solving clues stuff kids love. The story is a thrilling adventure for two young boys, whose fun trip to Egypt turns into a dangerously exciting quest to uncover an ancient and mysterious secret.

My book has also done me proud in Book Awards and various contests.
  • Finalist Children's Fiction USA Next Generation 2009 Indie Book Awards
  • Finalist Juvenile Fiction USA National Best Books 2009 Awards
  • Winner Pre-Teen USA 2009 Readers' Favorites Awards
  • Winner Silver Medal Teen Fiction 2010 Nautilus Book Awards
  • Finalist Children’s Fiction 2010 International Book Awards
  • Winner Bronze Medal Pre-Teen Fiction 2010 Moonbeam Book Awards
  • Finalist 2011 Rubery Book Awards
  • Winner Gold Award Mystery Pre-Teen 2011 Children’s Literary Classics Awards

What other books have you written?

I wonder if I should confess now to having written historical romance novels under my pseudonym Arabella Sheraton. I love Regency novels, and am a huge fan of Jane Austen and Georgette Heyer. One day my mother (who sadly passed away just recently) said she thought I could also write a romance, and that I should try. She was a Mills & Boon addict. I said, OK, and produced my first novel, which was (amazingly) snapped up by a fabulous publisher. Thereafter, they commissioned more. I have written four Regency romances with a Valentine novella and another full-length novel contracted. You can find the first two books on Amazon. The others will be available shortly. 

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

I am halfway through The Temple of the Crystal Timekeeper in The Chronicles of the Stone series. Of course, I am at the point where I absolutely have to take a trip there. My young heroes have crashed into the Mexican jungle and have been rescued by an uncontacted tribe as they search for the Third Stone of Power. All very dangerous and lots of fun.

What advice do you have for other authors?

I love this question and always give the same answer:

Never give up.

Make sure your writing meets the industry standards - i.e. get it professionally edited. 

Tell someone about your book every day. Word of mouth is the best advertising.

Share with us your journey as a writer.

It has been an incredible journey and not without its dark and dreary moments. Living in South Africa affords very few good opportunities for publishing. Hence my decision to find a publisher in the USA. That too has its drawbacks—I can’t do as much as I would like with book readings etc. But the benefit of the Internet has proved itself! I have found that through blogging, tweeting, Facebook, and other online means, I have been able to build up a good author profile. 

Anything else you want readers to know?

Just that my greatest ambition is to write a detective novel, since I enjoy them so much, and I hope one day I can work out an intricate plot that will keep everyone guessing to the last page!

And now a glimpse into The Secret of the Sacred Scarab.

A 5000-year-old mystery comes to life when a scruffy peddler gives Adam and Justin Sinclair an old Egyptian scarab on their very first day in Egypt. Only when the evil Dr. Faisal Khalid shows a particular interest in the cousins and their scarab, do the boys realise they are in terrible danger. Dr. Khalid wants the relic at all costs. Justin and Adam embark upon the adventure of a lifetime, taking them down the Nile and across the harsh desert in their search for the legendary tomb of the Scarab King, an ancient Egyptian ruler. They are plunged into a whirlpool of hazardous and mysterious events when Dr. Khalid kidnaps them. They survive terrifying dangers in a hostile environment (such as a giant cobra, as well as sinking sand), pursued by enemies in their quest to solve the secret of the sacred scarab. They must translate the hieroglyphic clues on the underside of the scarab, as well as rescue the missing archaeologist James Kinnaird, and their friend, the Egyptologist Ebrahim Faza, before time runs out. They must also learn more about the ancient Seven Stones of Power and the mysterious Shemsu-Hor. With just their wits, courage, and each other, the boys manage to survive … only to find that the end of one journey is the beginning of another! 

My Review of The Secret of the Sacred Scarab.

This was the second time I've read Fiona's book, but that didn't lessen the excitement. Instead, I found myself talking to the boys, trying to warn them, much like I would do each time I re-read Romeo and Juliet with my freshmen students!

The mystery and excitement that is Egypt will hook young readers from the start. Adam and Justin are characters that are easy to relate to as each exhibit the qualities of caution and rashness. Don't we all. When one is ready to race onward, the other puts the brakes on. 

The ancient settings of Egypt are always intriguing and add to the mysery of the boys' journey. Fiona's first-hand knowledge of these sites puts readers right there beside Adam and Justin.

Lots of twists and turns round out this award-winning story.

Links for Fiona and her books:

Author Site: http://www.FionaIngram.com 
Blog: http://fionaingramauthor.blogspot.com 
Facebook page: http://www.facebook.com/fiona.robyn.ingram 
Goodreads author page: http://www.goodreads.com/fiona_ingram 
Twitter: http://twitter.com/FionaRobyn 
Book website: http://www.secretofthesacredscarab.com 

Amazon Kindle 

Amazon Paperback

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Meet Author Katie Carroll

Today I welcome Children's/MG/YA author Katie Carroll and her book Elixir Bound, a YA Paranormal Fantasy.

Katie, tell us a bit about yourself.

I started seriously writing when I was 19 and my 16-year-old sister, Kylene, unexpectedly passed away. She loved the Harry Potter books and insisted that everyone read them. She made a lot of reluctant readers into eager ones. I wrote my first book to give her a fantasy adventure of her own. I learned a lot about writing and about myself in the process and that book eventually became Elixir Bound. Now my husband and I are raising our son in the small city that has been my home for more years than I like to count.

Why did you pick to write books for children and teens?

I didn’t! I just started writing a book. When I finally got around to thinking about who might want to read what I was writing, it just sort of fell into place that teens would. So I kind of ran with that idea and I’ve never turned back. From young adult to middle grade to picture books, I love writing them all.

Here is a teaser from Elixir Bound:

Katora Kase is next in line to take over as guardian to a secret and powerful healing Elixir. Now she must journey into the wilds of Faway Forest to find the ingredient that gives the Elixir its potency. Even though she has her sister and brother, an old family friend, and the handsome son of a mapmaker as companions, she feels alone.

It is her decision alone whether or not to bind herself to the Elixir to serve and protect it until it chooses a new guardian. The forest hosts many dangers, including wicked beings that will stop at nothing to gain power, but the biggest danger Katora may face is whether or not to open up her heart to love.

What types of books do you like to read?

Young adult, young adult, and more young adult. Sure, I throw in the occasional adult book or classic, and I do enjoy middle grade, but young adult is my go-to reading. Whether it be fantasy, contemporary, or dystopian, I love young adult fiction.

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

I have a one-year-old son who keeps me pretty busy. I also like playing soccer, traveling when I have the time and money to do it, and collecting signed books. I’m also an editor, formerly of puzzle magazines and now I work on books.

What book did you wish you had written?

I’d have to say The Sky is Everywhere by Jandy Nelson, which is about a 17-year-old girl whose 19-year-old sister has just died. It’s the only book I felt compelled to write in (because I never, ever write in books). I think the author somehow managed to get in my head just after my own sister died and so eloquently put into words how I was feeling.

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

I’ve written lots of other books, but I’ll just talk about my newest book that is set to release next month. It’s a picture book app called The Bedtime Knight, which was illustrated by Erika Baird and is forthcoming from MeeGenius! It’s about a young child who, with a little help from Daddy Knight, learns how to turn the scary shadows of the night into fun imaginings.

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

I’m working on a follow-up to Elixir Bound, which is mostly still in my head. Right now it’s called Elixir Saved. Kylene, the sister of Katora—the main character of Elixir Bound—is the main character. I’ve also got a middle grade adventure called Pirate Island, which I’m hoping to find a home for soon.

What advice do you have for other authors?

Read, read, and read some more. Then write, write, and write some more. Then revise, revise, and revise some more. Then submit, submit, and submit some more. Really, that’s all it takes to be a published writer!

Anything else you want readers to know?

I love hearing from readers, and I’m available for school visits. Please check out my school visit page (http://www.katielcarroll.com/school-visits/) for more information.  

Where can readers find you and your books?

My website and blog are at www.katielcarroll.com

Elixir Bound can be found on the MuseItUp website (http://tinyurl.com/95qgrg6), and on Amazon (http://www.amazon.com/Elixir-Bound-ebook/dp/B0093CL4OM). 

The Bedtime Knight will be available on the MeeGenius! website (http://www.meegenius.com/store/featuredin early November.

Friday, October 5, 2012

Two New Middle Grade/YA Releases for E-Readers

MuseItUp Publishing newest E-books

The Journal in the Jug by K.G. McAbee
Cover Designer: Charlotte Volnek
Middle Grade Fantasy

‘When the paintings seem to glimmer, then the portals start to shimmer…’

Twelve-year-old Noah Macgregor can’t get that ridiculous line of poetry from an old journal out of his head. And he certainly didn’t plan to get his older sister Holly, their dog Gilbert and himself trapped.

It was an accident. He and Holly were just following Gilbert through the dark hallways of the old house that had belonged to a pirate two hundred years before. They find Gilbert just in time to see him run full speed into…and it looks like, through…a painting. Naturally, they follow their dog; wouldn’t you? And Noah has at least a vague idea of what might be on the other side, thanks to stuff he’d read in that same old journal he’d found inside a jug.

But on the other side of the painting, he and his sister find themselves in a strange sort of colonial South Carolina, where animals do some pretty surprising things and men made of brass and bronze walk and talk. And it gets worse. Captain Ambrose Craven is alive and even badder than expected.

And worst of all: they’re not exactly sure how to get back home…

Wakefield by Erin Callahan and Troy H. Gardner
Cover Designer: Charlotte Volnek
Young Adult

Orphans Astrid Chalke and Max Fisher meet when they’re sent to live at Wakefield, a residential and educational facility for teens with psychiatric and behavioral problems. Astrid’s roommate cuts herself with anything sharp she can get her hands on and Max’s roommate threatens him upon introduction. Just as Astrid and Max develop a strong bond and begin to adjust to the constant chaos surrounding them, a charming and mysterious resident of Wakefield named Teddy claims he has unexplainable abilities. Sometimes he can move things without touching them. Sometimes he can see people’s voices emanating from their mouths. Teddy also thinks that some of the Wakefield staff are on to him. At first, Astrid and Max think Teddy is paranoid, but Max’s strange, recurring dreams and a series of unsettling events force them to reconsider Teddy’s claims. Are they a product of his supposedly disturbed mind or is the truth stranger than insanity?