Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Meet MG Author Mariko Layton

Carpinello's Writing Pages welcomes fellow Colorado author Mariko Layton. Mariko is also a member of CAL, the Colorado Authors League.

First, a bit about Mariko:

When I arrived in America from Japan at the age of eight, I only knew how to count to ten and say Thank You in English. However, as soon as I learned to read English, I fell in love with books. I always wanted to be a writer, but to be a good daughter, I had to become a lawyer first. I finally found my way and now expose the mysteries of Japan to kids through books.

Why did you pick to write books for MG?

Middle grade is such a great age. Middle graders read well and are eager to read by themselves. There are a lot of life lessons they need to learn, which are kid problems. I hope to help them with those issues.

What types of books do you like to read?

I love reading Middle Grade and Young Adult books. I read a lot of Newbery honors and winner books. There are a lot of universal truths in these books that remind me of the simple truths that we should all live by. I also read adult novels and nonfiction books. I especially like mysteries and nonfiction about people overcoming overwhelming obstacles.

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

I love the outdoors. I live in the mountains, so I hike with my dogs in the summer. In the winter, I downhill ski, cross country ski, and skate ski.

Tell us about Ayumi's Violin and how the story came to be.

Ayumi's Violin is about a biracial twelve-year-old violin prodigy who, after her mother dies, leaves her home in Japan to go to America. She lives with a Caucasian father she’s never met, a resentful half-sister, and a racist stepmother. She does the unthinkable when she is deprived of her violin.

I wanted to show how different countries and cultures are through Ayumi’s eyes. I wanted a protagonist with a passion that drove her, a passion so central to her that her life depends on it, a passion so strong that it would get her through her darkest periods. I love music so I made her a violin prodigy.

Here's a peek at Ayumi's Violin:

Mother’s voice was growing weaker every day. Twelve-year-old Ayumi knelt on the floor beside the futon and leaned her head toward her mother to listen as she struggled to form words. Ayumi’s stomach shriveled like a hard dried rice ball. She wanted to lie next to her, have Mother hold her and tell her she would get well.

But that wasn’t going to happen. Mother was dying.

“Play for me,” Mother whispered.

Ayumi padded through the nearly empty room to her violin case. Money had run out during the ten months of Mother’s illness because of her inability to work. They had hocked everything that would bring in a yen, except for what Ayumi would soon take to America. Ayumi had wanted to work, but Mother wouldn’t let her sacrifice her four hours of violin practice every day.

Ayumi opened the case and stared at the photo of Mother and her father together. They smiled and looked happy. Ayumi’s skin prickled with apprehension at the thought of meeting her father soon for the first time.

She cracked open the window to let in fresh air. She drew out her violin and bow, nestled her instrument under her chin, and began to play Mother’s favorite Beethoven sonata. Mother’s pinched face relaxed, and Ayumi’s stomach unwound... 

Ayumi glanced at Mother after the first movement, worried over the yellow of her eyes, her gaunt face, and the small rise her wasted body made under the top cover. Sorrow shot through her heart like an arrow. She set her violin and bow down on the floor, dashed outside, crumpled on the dirt road, and cried. After her tears stopped, she took deep breaths, dried her face, and patted the dust off her tattered dress before dragging herself back to their apartment.

“Rest, Mother,” she said, offering a brave smile.

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

Accidental Samurai Spy will be coming out in the next few months. Set in 1863, Aritomo, a twelve-year-old son of a samurai lord, is training to become a brave warrior. When he and his loyal dog Tama are rescued by his enemies after a shipwreck, he pretends to be a peasant. He rescues the enemy lord’s daughter. As his reward, he lives in the enemy’s castle where he becomes friends with the girl. In his struggle to save his family when he learns of a plot to massacre his clan, he learns that there is more to being a warrior than combat.
Kenji's Power is about Kenji, a thirteen-year-old boy who feels powerless when he cannot save his family in the devastating tsunami of 2011. He is sent from his seaside village to live with his mysterious uncle in Tokyo, where he does not fit in. His world as an orphan twists stranger when his uncle turns out to be a Japanese-mafia gangster. A gang war breaks out, and he is hidden in a sumo training center. When he becomes the only one who can save his uncle, he must dig deep to reclaim his power.

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

I’m currently working on a book about a girl in an internment camp during World War II. When Lillian’s grandfather falls ill, she wants to cheer him up by buying him his favorite record album. In order to earn enough money, she lends herself to other kids by becoming their voice when they don’t have the courage to speak their mind. In the process, she learns to express her feelings.

What advice do you have for other authors?

Keep writing! If one idea doesn’t work out, go on and write the next book.

Where can readers find you and your books?


Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Writing Tips & the 70th Kid Lit Blog Hop

Carpinello's Writing Pages is back this Hop with more tips from the Children's, Middle Grade, and Young Adult writers I've interviewed. These are from February, 2015.

Keep at it. Writing a novel is not easy, and it’s not fast. You’ll go through days and weeks where the words flow and writing is the best feeling in the world, then you’ll get stuck or start to doubt yourself, or (like I sometimes do) read a book that is so stupendously fantastic you wonder why you ever thought you could do this. But no one else can tell your story the way YOU can tell it.

Also, don’t hide in a bubble. Get online. Meet fellow writers. When you publish, whether with a traditional publishing house or via self-publishing, a lot of the marketing will fall on your shoulders and if the only people you know are your family and the kids you graduated with, no one will hear about your book
Melanie Hooyenga, author of The Flicker Effect series.
If writing is your passion, don’t let someone else convince you not to do it. Be true to yourself and what you love. Of course, the obvious, Read, Read and Read some more. Most of all Butt in Chair; Hands on Keyboard (or holding a pen/pencil). Just don’t ever give up
Christina Weigand, author of the Palace of the Twelve Pillars series. 

Advice? Not really, as I think that we are all unique snowflakes, us writers. What works for one will not work for another author. But the old adage of ‘You Can’t Fix a Blank Page’ rings most true, so my advice is to write more and then some moreAndy Mulberry, author of Skycastle, the Demon and Me.

Of course, I could say what other authors say is key: read, read, read. But I’d also tell would-be authors that getting a book published isn’t the end of the process. It’s actually the beginning of the next phase of being an author: marketing. Are you prepared to do interviews, school and club visits, book presentations, etc.? Those things take a lot of time to arrange and carry out, but they can be worthwhile in getting you and your books noticed. Many writers are introverts, and it’s hard for them to get “out there,” but for those who push through that, the visibility can do wonders for not only your own self-esteem, but for the success of your books as wellClaudia Cangilla McAdam, author of Awakening.
And Now,

Welcome to the 70th Kid Lit Blog Hop. This exciting Hop, now monthly, is where we develop an engaged group of people who love everything that has to do with children's literature.


On this Hop, Carpinello's Writing Pages interviews
MG/YA author Crystal Marcos

MG author Mariko Layton
Remember, 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!

Simply make a post and add it to the linky. (Please make sure to add your direct post only) 
Once you are done, then hop around to visit others. Please visit at least the two people above your link. Please leave a comment when you do visit, we all like those.

Also, it would be appreciated if you grab the Kid Lit Blog Hop Badge and display it on your blog and/or your post.

This week we welcome Ann from Hits and Misses as a co-hostesss. Welcome, Ann. It's great to have you on board! 

Happy Hopping!

Pragmatic Mom

The Logonauts 

Spark and Pook 

Hits and Misses

Meet Storyteller Crystal Marcos

Carpinello's Writing Pages welcomes back Crystal Marcos. After writing for Middle Graders, Crystal shares her new YA novel with our readers.

First, a bit about Crystal:

Award-winning author Crystal Marcos has been a storyteller her entire life. As the oldest of five children, she had to do a lot of entertaining. She lives on the Kitsap Peninsula in Washington State with her husband, daughter Kaylee, and newborn son Jackson.

Why did you pick to write books for young readers?

I chose to write books for children to young adult because it is what I love reading. I knew from a young age that I wanted to be an author. All my life, as far as books go, I have mostly read these genres.

What types of books do you like to read?

As you already know, I read children’s, middle grade, and young adult. I also enjoy cookbooks and magazines like Family Fun or Yum Food and Fun for Kids.

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

I enjoy cuddling with my newborn baby boy and watching him interact with my six-year-old daughter. I love watching cooking shows with my little girl. We also cook and bake together. We especially enjoy cupcake or cake shows. I discovered a little over a year ago that I have a natural talent for making elaborate cakes. I have been making cakes for family events ever since. I have a large family so I there are plenty of cakes to be made. One of my more recent cake projects was my sister’s wedding cake. I was so nervous, but it turned out great and tasted yummy too! Thank goodness.

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

The idea for Novus came to me over three years ago in a dream that jolted me awake. I wanted to go back to sleep, hoping to pick up where I left off. I didn’t and kept thinking about it. I wanted to know more about the people in my dream, more about the setting, more about what was going on, and where the story was leading. I finally have the answers and am delighted to share them. The book is a look into my imagination and my dreams. Novus is Book One of The Cresecren Chronicles.

Here's a peek at Novus:

Being a teenager is hard enough. And what if your life’s path is predetermined? On top of that, you aren’t even Human?

Cayden was given life as a Cresecren. He expected to live out his days with the dysfunctional Human family he was assigned to serve. One fateful night, however, landed him in Gavaron, the home of maimed, elderly, or defiant Cresecren.

Beyond its borders is the Den, an area much more dangerous than he ever imagined. Now seventeen, Cayden unwittingly becomes involved in a conspiracy and is one of a handful of survivors fleeing a deadly attack. They set off on a perilous journey in search of refuge and the truth. Along the way, Cayden begins to comprehend the difference between fully living and merely surviving, while trying to balance his emotions and a forbidden love.

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

Yes, I have two books in a children’s series: the award-winning Bellyache: A Delicious Tale and Headache: The Hair-Raising Sequel to Bellyache. They are fun fantasy-adventures for ages 7 and up.

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

I am currently working on a children’s picture book and writing the second book in The Cresecren Chronicles.

What advice do you have for other authors?

It is difficult to find time to write sometimes. However, you can always find the time to imagine or daydream. File those thoughts away in your mind, record yourself on a handheld tape recorder, or jot them down on a piece of paper for when you have time to write.

Where can readers connect with you? 


Where can readers find your books?

Amazon Paperback

Barnes & Noble Paperback
Nook Book
Signed Copies

Wednesday, December 2, 2015

Family Secret Book Blast & Review

Mother Daughter Book Reviews is pleased to be coordinating a Book Blast for the newly released young adult thriller "Family Secret" by Kay LaLone.

Family Secret 200x300

About the Book

Title: Family Secret | Author: Kay LaLone | Publication Date: September 29, 2015 | Publisher: MuseItUp Publishing | Pages: 229 | Recommended Ages: 12+


On the road to solving his mother’s murder, sixteen-year-old Thomas Patrick Henry discovers a secret his father has kept from him for years. Tom thought Dad’s secret put him in danger. Mom’s secret is far worse. Magic. Witches. Ancient Book of Spells. Magical Amulet. Ghosts. Demons. Tom never thought these things existed until he is face to face with them. There is nothing else to do but destroy the demons before someone else Tom love dies. He already lost his mom and a close friend because this secret was kept from him. No one else will die. No one else will be possessed. Tom faces his demons. A mother’s love gives Tom the strength to slay his demons.

Amazon  *  Barnes & Noble  *  MuseItUp


The Early Buzz About the Book

"Once I opened this book, I couldn’t put it down until I came to the very satisfying ending. Family Secret is definitely a book I’ll read again and again.  I highly recommend Family Secret for teens who love the paranormal, especially boys looking for a good adventure." ~ Kathleen S., Amazon

"The world building was really well done and very immersive. The plot kept me guessing and was wrapped up very well." ~ Melissa, Goodreads


About the Author: Kay LaLone

family christmas 2014I’m Kay LaLone, author of Ghostly Clues, my first MG novel. Family Secret is my first YA novel. Both published by MuseItUp. I live in Michigan with my husband and teenage son (two older sons and a daughter-in-law and my first grandbaby live nearby) and two dogs. I love to get up every morning and write about ghosts, the paranormal, and things that go bump in the night. I write PB, MG and YA novels. No matter the books I write, I want my readers to feel like they have met a new friend. I’m an avid reader of just about any type of book (mystery, paranormal, and ghost stories are my favorites). I do reviews and post them on my website and blog. I love to collect old books, antiques, and collectibles. You can find many of my antiques and collectibles selling on ebay and at fleamarkets.

MuseItUp  *  Blog  *  Website

Facebook  *  Goodreads  *  Twitter

My Review of Family Secret:

What I Liked:
I loved the paranormal aspects of Family Secret. The depictions of the demons were extremely well done. The story is filled with twists and turns and some unexpected elements that added to the thrill. The secrets of the family are woven well into the story. The scope of those secrets surprised me as well as other characters in the story. Tom's longing for his mother comes across as genuine, and young readers will be able to relate to that as well as to the complete character of Tom. This is a clean read that ages 12 and up will enjoy. I enjoyed reading this. I give it 
What I Didn't Like: 
I thought the story started off slow. It wasn't until chapter seven that I found myself caught up in the action. Tom's continual protestations of being called a kid could have happened less. I think there were other aspects of his character—like his genuine love of his mother and his puzzlement and anger of his father—that served better as descriptions of him. As always, the English teacher in me cringes at the misuse of the English language, particularly when the wrong words are used and problems in sentence structure.

** Book Blast Giveaway **

Prize: One winner will receive a $25 Amazon gift card or $25 PayPal cash prize, winner's choice

Giveaway ends: December 15, 11:59 pm, 2015

Open to: Internationally

How to enter: Please enter using the Rafflecopter widget below.

Terms and Conditions: NO PURCHASE NECESSARY TO ENTER OR WIN. VOID WHERE PROHIBITED BY LAW. A winner will be randomly drawn through the Rafflecopter widget and will be contacted by email within 48 hours after the giveaway ends. The winner will then have 72 hours to respond. If the winner does not respond within 72 hours, a new draw will take place for a new winner. Odds of winning will vary depending on the number of eligible entries received. This contest is in no way sponsored, endorsed or administered by, or associated with Facebook. This giveaway is sponsored by Kay LaLone and is hosted and managed by Renee from Mother Daughter Book Reviews. If you have any additional questions – feel free to send an email to Renee(at)MotherDaughterBookReviews(dot)com.

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