Monday, July 14, 2014

Meet YA Author Traci McDonald

Carpinello's Writing Pages welcomes author Traci McDonald and her book Burning Bridger. Traci's blindness hasn't kept her down. She not only writes, but blogs also. You'll enjoy meeting Traci!

First, a bit about Traci:

What started as a life time love of great books turned into a career for Author Traci McDonald when she began writing full time after recovering from a kidney transplant in 2009. Researching, blogging, creating stories, and reading good books from her home in scenic southern Utah adds to Traci’s  busy schedule with her three sons and husband. Although she has been blind for 18 years, modern technology and good training have helped her to enjoy all facets of being a mother, music lover, reader, writer, and a history enthusiast. Traci serves on the board of The Heritage Writers Guild, is a member of a Nationwide group of blind authors known as Behind Our Eyes, and her blog,Writing Blind tours authors for The World Of Ink Network. Traci received training in picture books, Middle Grade, and Young Adult writing, but she has discovered her true voice is more genuine in New Adult or romance.

Why did you pick to write books for the YA market?

When I first wanted to learn how to be a good writer, an author friend of mine challenged me to write a story in 500 words or less. This story had to include a setting, at least two characters, a conflict, three failed attempts at resolving the conflict, and a resolution. I failed horribly. I was 900 words into the story and was only one third of the way through. I wanted to learn the craft of writing at its finest and writing for kids takes much better discipline, vocabulary, and control of the story. It was a challenge, and I love a challenge.

What types of books do you like to read?

I love all books with a good plot, well developed characters, and vibrant descriptions. Because of my blindness, I enjoy reading much more than I do television or movies. I need a book to bring the pictures of the story alive in my mind. I love Westerns thanks to Louis Lamour, Romances thanks to Dorothy Keddingrton, and Mysteries due to Mary Higgins Clark.

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

I love to read first and foremost, but I also love walking, hiking, softball with my husband, bicycle rides, talking to friends about books, listening to music, and hot baths.

Tell us about Burning Bridger and how the story came to be.

Burning Bridger is the story of Lily, a beautiful Latin woman who flees dark memories of her tragic past to hide in Maui. When she is rescued from a strange man, an ex-army ranger named Bridger, his unwelcome attention is spurned by the traumatized young woman until she discovers Bridger is the only man who can protect her from a killer.

Burning Bridger is a parallel novel to my debut novel Killing Casanova. My fan base asked for more stories from the original, and I wanted to use the beauty of Maui for an exciting tale.

Here's a peek at Burning Bridger:

When twenty-three year old club girl Lilly Pinion survives a brutal rape only to watch her best friend die, she swears off men before retreating to Maui.

Unfortunately, Maui doesn’t mean safety. Ex-army ranger, Bridger Jacoby's attempts to protect Lily from a tattooed man determined to kill her forces Lily to face her trauma, but not before she must  confront her attacker. The courage to trust someone might come too late. Surrendering to her past might cost her and Bridger their lives.

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

My debut novel Killing Casanova is the story of a blind woman who sees beyond the playboy reputation of a local boy being stalked by an old enemy. Killing Casanova includes the character Lilly Pinion who is attacked by the nam trying to kill Jake Casanova.

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

I have a rough draft of the third novel in the series Surrendering Savannah that I want to polish and get ready for release at the beginning of 2015. I’m also working on an urban fantasy that I hope to have finished this fall.

What advice do you have for other authors?

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.

Anything else you want readers to know?

I write clean romance, perhaps due to my training in children's books. My novels are appropriate for all ages but they do deal with difficult topics: cheating, drinking, and sexual assault. These topics are spoken about, but not described in the context of the story. Life is hard. Anyone who tells you different is trying to sell you something. Life is also a beautiful, magical, adventure where love is the only thing that matters.

Where can readers find you and your books?

You can find me on my Facebook page.
On Twitter.
On my blog.

My books are on Goodreads, Amazon, B&N, iTunes or anywhere e-books are sold. You can also find my work in the anthology Behind Our Eyes: A Second Look on Amazon.

Sunday, July 13, 2014

Meet MG Author Madeleine McLaughlin

Carpinello's Writing Pages welcomes MG author Madeleine McLaughlin and her story Beggar Charlie. Madeleine is a fellow MuseItUp author.

First, a bit about Madeleine:

I grew up in White Rock, British Columbia until I was about nineteen, and then I moved to Vancouver for one year and a bit. Then I came out to Eastern Canada. I did all sorts of jobs at first, including visual arts. I've taken various correspondence courses and went to college in Travel and Tourism. I had begun writing in the nineties, that's when I wrote my first e-book, The Mountain City Bronzes. Beggar Charlie is a more 'modern' tale in a way because I began it around 2012. I am a published poet, flash fiction and short story author.

Why did you pick to write books for MG?

I wanted to tell an adventurous story, and I thought the ages of 10 to 15 to be best suited for this type of story. Now many adults have read Beggar Charlie and liked it, so that makes me happy too. I think this is an age where you can tell things which may be considered  'too scary' for younger kids, but you still have that willingness to believe from your readers. This age is open-minded about reading.

What types of books do you like to read?

I like history, historical fiction, and generalized fiction. I also read a lot about the Victorian age. They gave us the beginnings of science with Darwin and others who opened up a whole new 'rational' way of thinking.

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

I watch television a lot, and I like to walk. I actually like to be outside and once considered becoming a shepherd.

Tell us about Beggar Charlie and how the story came to be.

Beggar Charlie was my own chance to tell a story, set in Victorian times, about that quintessential Victorian character, the orphan. Also, I was excited to write about China in that age, a country with a fascinating history.

Here's a peek at Beggar Charlie:

After his mother dies, Beggar Charlie finds himself alone, begging for bread. Life doesn't get any better when he is press-ganged. His only hope is the captain of the merchant ship who takes a liking to him.

When the ship docks in China, Charlie is sent ashore with Hickory Dick, a boy he mistrusts. A rebellion foments, and in horror, Charlie watches as the merchant ship sinks when some Chinese men set it on fire. Whatever will Beggar Charlie and Hickory Dick do?

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

I mentioned The Mountain City Bronzes, but that's really a short story. I have done some in the nineties that are languishing in my filing cabinet. I have a tragedy, in fact, two tragedies. I do intend at some time to transcribe them to computer and finish them.

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

I'm working on a supernatural detective story. Right now I'm doing a lot of thinking about my characters to make them more real, more likable.

What advice do you have for other authors?

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.

Anything else you want readers to know?

Having a happy life is possible whatever age you are, even if some of your life is a struggle. I'm happier now than I ever have been, and if you have struggles when young, you can move on. Maybe that sounds 'heavy' but I think it's important to not give up on yourself.

Where to find Madeleine's book:

MuseItUp Bookstore



Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Meet British YA Author C.M. Gray

Carpinello's Writing Pages welcomes British YA author C. M. Gray who really lives in Spain! See his special offer at the end of this interview.

First, a bit about C. M.:

C.M.Gray is a British author who has spent far too many years wandering the world. From Kibbutz in Israel, monasteries in Nepal to a stockbrokers’ desk in Hong Kong, he now lives in the forested hills of the Pyrenees, just outside of Barcelona… but his mind is still wandering! More storyteller than an author, the encounters with all the strange people he’s met (could be you) and the exploration of amazing places where he’s been now weave together to form his stories.

Why did you pick to write books for YA?

My books are written for any reader who simply enjoys a good tale. Because I don’t write steamy love scenes, have my characters screaming obscenities, or paint the walls with gory blood, they have been labeled YA, but to be honest, I have a huge following of adult readers who love my books and then will often tell me they read them to their children. I try to show that a good story can be enjoyed by just about all!

What types of books do you like to read?

I love reading, anything from spiritual awareness to the histories of the Anglo Saxons, which is what I’m reading right now. I loved the Harry Potter books, but then the last book I read was a courtroom thriller by John Grisham. I just love to be entertained. I find both reading and writing books is far better than watching the television, so that’s how I spend most of my free time, either reading or writing.

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

I do like watching films with my two kids. We live in the forest and have two dogs so we spend a lot of time walking and exploring the hills. Living in Northern Spain means we are blessed with a great climate. It snows in winter and is always hot in summer, there is so much to do here, we’re never bored.

Tell us about Shadowland and how the story came to be.

Shadowland was started on a whim. I had written my first book, a magical fantasy adventure that was a finalist in the LondonTimes/ChickenHouse literary competition 2013, but I was frustrated that publishers were saying there were too many ‘magical fantasy’ books about after Harry Potter hit the shelves, so I set about trying to write something different. I didn’t know what it was going to be about when I started, but just started writing. I liked the idea of an old storyteller sitting beside a fire one midwinter’s eve and the villagers gathering around to hear him spin a tale. It's cold outside, the wind is banging the shutters, but it’s warm and snug by the crackling fire. He begins to tell a story but is then interrupted and persuaded to tell a different story, one from his own youth. As the story unfolds, we learn he is telling of the time when the Romans are leaving Britain and the Saxon Longboats are coming ashore, when the tribes desperately needed a leader to unite them, he tells the story of Uther Pendragon.

There are a few surprises, some twists and turns, and a story emerges that has now received over a 180 reviews on Amazon with an average of 4.3 stars and a big following of fans.

Here's a peek at Shadowland:

`I have lived more years than I can remember, probably more than the sum of all your years combined. Kings have called me friend and brigands have sworn to burn the flesh from my bones even if they have to search all seven halls of the shadowland to find me.'

On the night of midwinter's eve, a storyteller takes his listeners back to the Dark ages and a tale from his youth.

Deserted by its Roman masters, Britain has been invaded by the Saxons at the invitation of Vortigern, traitorous leader of the Britons. Now, as the tribes unite to reclaim their land, one man must rise to lead them and become their true and only king.  

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

My first book was The Flight of the Griffin, a magical questing adventure that follows the fortunes of a group of friends who live on a boat called The Griffin They come across a magical book that sets them on a quest to locate and unite three magical items while a bounty hunter and a group of demons try to stop them! It reached the final twelve books in the 2013 literary competition run by The London Times and Chicken House books. At the end of 2013 I published the sequel, which is called Chaos Storm. It continues the adventures of The Griffin’s crew as they are called upon to help save the Kingdom from an even greater threat!

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

Right now I’m about five chapters into a sequel for Shadowland. People have been pestering me to write it for ages, even though Shadowland was a standalone story. I finally got around to thinking about it properly and have a great story coming together, it should be available before the end of the year.

What advice do you have for other authors?

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!

Anything else you want readers to know?

I want all readers to know they should read my books! It’s what any author really wants. It’s a bit like a chef who cooks a great meal, it isn’t great until people eat it and start saying how great it is! So if you like a really good story… read Shadowland!

Where can readers find you and your books?

I only sell through Amazon at the moment, but I’m thinking about going to other sellers as well.


Special Treat!

Chris has graciously offered a limited number of free Kindle copies of Shadowland to readers. Winners will be picked from those leaving a comment. Don't miss out on this offer.

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Kid Lit Blog Hop #42

* July and August can be a busy, busy time of year for many (I'm one of those folks). For the months of July and August, the Kid Lit Blog Hop hostesses have decided to host only one Hop in each month. We will be hosting one Hop in the first week of July and one in the first week of August. PLUS, we will be keeping the Hop open for 2 weeks instead of 1 week. Also, please be aware that as hostesses, we will do the best we can to make sure that at least ONE of us visits each link and says Hello! *  


On to the Hop...

Welcome to the 42nd Kid Lit Blog Hop where twice per month (the 1st and 3rd Wednesday) we continue to develop a dynamic and engaged community of children's books bloggers, authors, publishers, and publicists.

During the month of July, Carpinello's Writing Pages will be interviewing MG author Audrey Kane, British YA author C. M. Gray, MG Canadian author Madeleine McLaughlin, and YA romantic/suspense author Traci McDonald.

One of my interviewees is also offering a giveaway! 

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!


Happy Hopping everyone and enjoy the Hop!

Kid Lit Blog Hop

Kid Lit Blog Hop Rules *Please Read*

1. We ask that you kindly follow your hosts. You can follow us any way you choose (Email, GFC, Twitter, Facebook, G+, Pinterest, etc.), but we've added our preferences below. If you could just give us a quick "follow" or "like" that would be much appreciated! Make sure to leave us a message if you are following us (i.e., on Twitter or Facebook or on our websites) and we will be sure to follow you back. Thanks! :-)
2. Link up any Kid Lit related post. 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. Please visit AT LEAST the TWO LINKS 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!
Interested in co-hosting the Kid Lit Blog Hop? If you've joined us before, you are welcome to join us again! Please email renee @ motherdaughterbookreviews (dot) com and put Co-Hosting Blog Hop in the subject line.
Happy Hopping!

Meet MG Author Audrey Kane

Carpinello's Writing Pages welcomes North Carolina author Audrey Kane and her MG novel The Purple Girl. She is a kindred spirit in that she loves traveling as much as I do!

First, a bit about Audrey:

As a writer and also a designer of tapestries with a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree from the University of Georgia, it is only natural for Audrey to weave visual stories. When she is not designing tapestries, she is busy conjuring up characters that find themselves in extraordinary situations. Between carpools and design work, she is plotting, scheming, writing, and revising. She lives in North Carolina with her husband, their three children, and her unruly dog, Rascals. Audrey's favorite time to write is in the early morning while her family sleeps. With Rascals sprawled out snoring beside her, it only takes one oversized cup of coffee to get her mind moving.

Audrey is a member of the Society of Children’s Book Writers & Illustrators. She loves traveling, museums, and blackberry-apple pie. Actually, she loves all kinds of pie. And she especially loves her family—even if they aren’t purple!

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

I didn’t set out to write for middle grade; I think middle grade sort of picked me. I wrote because I had a story burning to come out, and the main character happened to be thirteen. My creative mind always escapes, whether it is through art or writing. Both give me great pleasure. Somewhere in the midst of writing, I looked at my story and realized I was writing for eight-to-twelve year olds. 

I think a lot of books cross over into different ages, depending on the reading skills, interests, and comprehension levels of the reader. While a younger reader may simply go on a great adventure, another may recognize deeper meanings and complex issues within the story. In time, I trust that the readers will let me know where The Purple Girl really belongs.

What types of books do you like to read?

I crave historical fiction, and I can’t seem to get enough of it. I love being swept away by a story while learning about different time periods, cultures, and far-away places. It fascinates me that we still react with the same emotions and passions as we did centuries ago. There is always a stack of books on my shelf just waiting for me.

Of course, I also love middle grade reads and picture books. Some of the illustrations are fabulous works of art. And I love reading books that I read as a child. It’s almost like reading a completely different story because I’m coming at it from such a different perspective.

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

When I’m not writing, you can find me designing tapestries, carpooling kids, exploring a museum, having tea with a friend, or reading by a crackling fire on a cold day. I spend a great deal of time with my husband and family, and I am always hatching plans that somehow involve travel.

Tell us about The Purple Girl and how the story came to be.

The Purple Girl
was born from a writer's block exercise. A fellow writer suggested I try an exercise that would force me to take off my editing hat. My job was to write for twenty-five minutes without stopping. And there were rules. I wasn’t allowed to erase a word, revise a sentence, or pause to collect my thoughts. The Purple Girl came to me…and I fell in love with her story. The amazing illustrations are by Tory & Norman Taber.

Here's a peek at The Purple Girl:

Violet’s purple spreads to everything she touches...

Violet lives behind the garden walls. Is she magical? Is she the devil’s child—or simply cursed? When the lonely thirteen-year-old embarks on a dangerous journey to find the one boy that dared to befriend her, she travels at night... in the dark... to keep people from seeing her purple skin.

But no one is more surprised than Violet when she unlocks her mysterious gift…

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

The Purple Girl is my debut book. The first book I wrote was never published, but it led me to the second book—which became the first book!

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

The Purple Girl is whispering to me about writing a sequel. But I can’t tell you more than that…at least not yet. The cat will be out of the bag soon, though.

What advice do you have for other authors?

One of the best pieces of advice I’ve ever heard: Believe in yourself. If you don’t, who will?

Anything else you want readers to know?

Although The Purple Girl was written as a fun read, discrimination is at the core of the story. While written for children, The Purple Girl provides young-at-heart parents an entertaining read and a chance to discuss discrimination, discovery, and self-acceptance in a relatable, interesting way. I also have a list of discussion questions (available on my website) to encourage richer exploration. For instance, some readers understand that Violet is a victim of discrimination; however, they may not realize that Violet also discriminates against someone in the story.

Whether a child is reading The Purple Girl to escape on an adventure or whether she is grasping the deeper social messages woven into the story, I’m simply happy a child is reading. And if I’ve helped to instill a love for reading or helped a reluctant reader become a bookworm—well, that’s icing on the cake!

Where to find Audrey and The Purple Girl:

Audrey's Website

The Purple Girl on Amazon