Friday, December 20, 2013

Book Review: ‘Beware of the White’ by Kai Strand

ImageThis middle-grade novel was an entertaining, delightful read!
Terra is a sweet, smart girl, very close to her mom, and not what one might call popular at school. In fact, she’s often a bit bullied at times. She also suffers in silence for the death of her dad years ago.
The action begins soon after Terra’s 12th birthday, when she receives an unexpected visit from a mysterious Spirit Ambassador who tells Terra she’s a Nature Spirit of the Underworld and who escorts her to the secret, underground city of Concord. As is the tradition, Terra must now begin to learn what talents she possesses and how best to use them in the Underworld cities. Thus, she embarks on a journey of discovery; she must learn her reason for being there and she must also learn about those she is there to help. Soon, everybody agrees she’s the Spirit in the prophecy, the one being who will fight Blanco, the evil leader of the Trepidus, and bring back peace to Concord — a daunting quest for one so young, especially one who doubts her skills and talents.
I thoroughly enjoyed Beware of the White. This is the start of an exciting fantasy series (The Concord Chronicles) for tweens. There’s mystery, action and adventure, and even a hint of romance between Terra and her protector, Frank, a Security Spirit. Author Kai Strand does an excellent job with her world building, creating a fascinating, original universe that will appeal to young readers. Terra is a sympathetic protagonist, one who bravely faces her problems in spite of her insecurities. Readers will root for her as she embarks on her quest to fulfill the prophecy and find her destiny. The writing itself flows beautifully, and is very appropriate for the tween audience. Strand makes every word count. Recommended for fans of fantasy!
Visit Kai Strand’s website.
Purchase Beware of the White from Amazon.
 My review was originally published in Blogcritics.

Thursday, December 19, 2013

Tradebook Tips from Andrea Buginsky, Author of 'Destiny' (Book I in her New Avalon YA Fantasy Series)

Today I’m hosting Day 4 of a 5-day virtual tour, sponsored by the National Writing for Children Center, for Andrea Buginsky’s new book, Destiny.

About Andrea Buginsky

Andrea Buginsky is a freelance writer and author. “The Chosen,” a middle-grade fantasy novelette, was her first book, and was followed by “My Open Heart,” an autobiography about growing up with heart disease. “Nature’s Unbalance” is the second story in THE CHOSEN series. Andrea is currently working on NEW AVALON, a YA fantasy series. Book 1, Destiny, is available on Amazon.

Tradebook Tips from Author Andrea Buginsky

My books are aimed for young teens in middle school and those entering high school. Each of my books has the same theme to them: Reach for the Stars and Make Your Dreams Come True. I write about characters who don’t come across as the hero, but over time, find their inner hero. These characters usually start off not thinking of themselves as hero material, and being shocked to hear about their destinies, but over time, they conquer their own fears, and prove to themselves, and those around them, that they are the hero they’re meant to be.

I believe my books would be wonderful for teachers to use to teach their students how to overcome their own fears, and find their inner hero. I think when the kids read my books, they see themselves: a scared young person trying to make it their world, and find himself. Someone searching for something, even if he has yet to figure out what. It is my hope that reading my books will help him focus and figure it out.

My theme about reaching for the stars also comes across in my books. If my characters didn’t reach far and wide to reach their stars, they wouldn’t see their own dreams come true. Older children, who are faced with life challenges they never had to face before, face similar experiences. What are their dreams? How do they make them come true?

Teachers can use my books to help their students start to determine what their dreams are, and what steps they can take to reach them. They can use my books to help show their students that the unsure feelings they have about themselves are normal.

My biggest wish is that my readers will get out of my books exactly what I put into them. I would be thrilled to know that the wonderful teachers out there are using my books to help their students do just that.

About the Book

Constantly teased and taunted by the popular girls, Elena Baxter desperately wants to fit in. On her sweet sixteenth, she receives two shocking gifts: telekinesis and the surprising truth about her heritage. With high hopes that things will be different now, Elena returns to school to find that nothing has changed. Only this time her hurt feelings and frustration boil into something even she cannot understand. When her powers explode, chaos ensues and she learns that her new ability is greater than she ever desired. As she learns to control her powers, Elena discovers there’s so much more to her heritage than she ever imagined.

Destiny is available online at

Find out more about Andrea Buginsky at

Follow Day 4 of Andrea’s tour tomorrow at

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Theme for the Day: Writing Tips from Dorit Sasson

As a writer for the academic market, here are a few tips for trying to break into this market:

If possible, sign on with an agent. When I submitted the proposal on my own, I went to each website and looked up the proposal guidelines. It took forever to get a response from busy editors.

In the academic market, there is just ONE agent who can help you in the entire US believe it or not, and this agent of mine has been around for a long time. He is respected by many educational publishers and gets responses faster than I would ordinarily get on my own.

Another great reason to procure an agent is that he is better able to negotiate royalties. In the academic/educational market, the royalties are very low so every percent increase can work in your favor. 

2. If you’re writing a book for teachers, use the conversational tone. This is especially important when incorporating pedagogical theory. Teachers have been drained and inundated with theory during their undergraduate and graduate studies and the last thing they want is another theory book.

Speak to your target audience like a “colleague” so that you really provide them with highly useful and practical information they can find rather easily.

Some publishers, specifically those who work with universities and colleges, really want a combination of both theoretical pedagogy and practical information. If you decided to work with these publishers, get a hold of the books they published in the past to get a feel of how their authors dealt with this issue.

3. Whether you’re a novice or an experienced literacy writer, a K-12 teacher, or a university-level educator, you will benefit from the insights in this content-rich book, Beating the Odds: Getting Published in the Field of Literacy.

This book has helped me at each stage of the “publishing and writing game.” When I first started writing, I needed some guidance on getting started by approaching various journals.

Later, I expanded my target market, by writing educational resource material and then finally, to the book writing educational market. As I write in my story, “How I Got My First Book Contract” finding an agent for my book definitely helped, but I needed to know specific tricks of the trade since writing for the field of literacy works very differently than other markets such as adult and children’s trade markets.

Please follow Day 5 of this tour tomorrow at

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Today Only - Dec. 4th - A Bad Mad Sad Day for Mama Bear is on sale for only $.99!

Little Bear offers Mama Bear various items to make her feel better, but she’s too busy to notice—until he gives her his super, so good, so very special dolly. Silly humor, alliteration, repetition, and onomatopoeia make this a fun read-aloud story. A celebration of the special love shared between mother and child. For ages 3-7.

ONLY $.99 on Kindle TODAY ONLY

Monday, December 2, 2013

Meet Constance (aka, Connie) Corcoran Wilson

Today I'm hosting Day I of Connie Corcoran Wilson's virtual blog tour, presented to you by The National Writing for Children Center. 

Connie is touring the blogosphere to promote her adorable children's book series, The Christmas Cats


I've been writing for pay since I was ten years old, beginning when I was sent out by my hometown (Independence, Iowa) newspaper to interview the locals. This was, no doubt, a gimmick that local editor Reeves Hall thought would be cute, but it started me on a lifetime (58 years+) spent writing and teaching others to write.

I've taught composition and English classes at all 6 IA/IL Quad City colleges and taught junior high school students for 18 years, before founding the second Sylvan Learning Center in the state of Iowa (Bettendorf, IA, Center #3301) in 1986.

Prior to starting my Sylvan (Nov. 15, 1986), I worked for Performance Learning Systems, Inc., of Emerson, New Jersey, writing "Training the Teacher As A Champion," a 1989 release by that largest-in-the-nation teacher training firm.

In 2003, my daughter was dating a young man, Andrew Weinert, who was a promising artist. Rita, Andy's mother, had been my student during my years at Silvis Junior High School. I asked Andy  to draw  cats attired in "silly hats" promising him, faithfully, that this would become a book. I sent the drawings off to a publishing group that lost all his original artwork. All I had were the scans of his work in my computer.

The drawings languished in my computer for a full 8 years before the layout artist, who was helping me with pixel improvement so I could  publish It Came from the '70s: From The Godfather to ApocalypseNow,  said he might be able to do something with the scans, since computers had improved  in the intervening 8 years.

My son and his wife had twin girls in 2009. I wanted to complete the book as a Christmas present for the girls for 2011, when they were two. I approached Andy to do a few more drawings to make the book about "Christmas Cats."

Andy was in the final throes of receiving his PhD in Graphic Arts from Northern Illinois University. He did
not have the time to take on another project, but the girls' Venezuelan nanny, Emily Marquez, an amateur artist, said she, too, would like to attempt to finish the book as a gift for her young charges. (The book is dedicated to Emily). And so the first book, "The Christmas Cats in Silly Hats," was born, as a Christmas gift for my then-2-year-old granddaughters.

 There was no book in 2012, because Andy, post-graduation, was busy.  I began the search for another professional illustrator and found Gary McCluskey, a Rhode Island native, who did a wonderful job bringing the Christmas rats to life.  Gary is working on Book Three now.

To find out more about Connie's tour as well as her next stop, please visit The National Writing for Children Center