2011 in review

The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2011 annual report for this blog.

 

Here’s an excerpt:

The concert hall at the Syndey Opera House holds 2,700 people. This blog was viewed about 23,000 times in 2011. If it were a concert at Sydney Opera House, it would take about 9 sold-out performances for that many people to see it.

Click here to see the complete report.

Traegonia the Ember Rune by K. S. Krueger

Welcome to The World of Traegonia where two young Traegons turn one boy’s ordinary world into something truly extraordinary. Where trees are homes, hawks are transportation, fairies exist and the creatures of the forests have their own stories to tell. Open yourself to possibility that just beyond the forest tree line a very different reality exists. 

Traegonia the Ember Rune, the second book in the Traegonia series, continues the adventures of a young boy and a community of, mystical creatures of the forest known as, Traegons. These sixteen inch tall forest dwelling creatures, that resemble a cross between a troll and a wingless dragon, are wise and inquisitive. Although, they may appear scary at first they are actually quite kind and civilized. When Dino is faced with leaving, Karia and Juna, his two young Traegon friends behind when his parents decide to go on vacation, he decides to smuggle them on board a plane to California. His family vacation turns into an adventure of a lifetime when they meet two young girls and a bold and a bit wild young Traegon named Fletch. This Northern California Mountain holds danger, mystery and a path of learning for each of these new friends.  Faced with forces of nature, a rogue cougar and the evolution of their own journeys, the group of unlikely friends must believe in themselves and each other to uncover the meaning of the Ember Rune and get off the mountain safely. New friendships are made, old ones revealed and a new community of Traegons is introduced.  Join Dino, Karia and Juna on this second exciting adventure and decide for yourself…. Do they exist?        

Do you Believe?

Read an excerpt!

Prologue 

Sometimes there are moments in our lives that can take us from an ordinary existence and propel us into an extraordinary series of events that will alter our lives forever. This is my story of one of those moments. Many years ago, I was just an average, ordinary kid. I had a best friend from school named Quinn. I lived in an average, ordinary, rural Midwest town with my mom and dad. My life was pretty ordinary, too, until I met Karia and Juna. They were not your average, ordinary friends; they are Traegons—young at the time like I was, and brother and sister to each other.    

Traegons are mystical creatures of the forest. The first time I saw them, I thought they resembled what I would imagine a cross between a troll and a wingless dragon might look like. Some might say Traegons are strange looking, maybe even fearsome. I guess I might have thought that, too, at first, but now that I have gotten to know them, to me they are nothing short of awesome. They are small, only about a foot and a half to two foot tall when they are full grown. They walk upright like us, but their skin is not at all like ours. It is light brown and looks somewhat like the bark of a tree. Some have many lines with deep grooves, while others are more like that of a smooth young tree. Their knuckles look a little like raised, round knots. The males have a long muzzle with a square jaw and a single, long, fang-like dark tooth that protrudes upward, from one side of their bottom jaw. They have pointed ears that stand up, curving slightly forward. Some, like Juna, have wavy white hair, and others have none. They have large hands with only three fingers and an opposable thumb. They also have broad feet with three toes. The females have much softer-looking faces, still long but with more of a pointed muzzle. Their ears are also large but lie down at the sides of their heads. They have feathers for hair, and their hands are slightly smaller than the males’, but with long, slender fingers. 

Their clothing looks to be handmade. It is natural in color, so they are able to blend into their surroundings rather easily. They wear pouches, jewelry, and other embellishments, many of which they make themselves from found items or trade for with others within their community. They are skilled and civilized. Some might even say they are more civilized than we humans are, or at least some of us. They live at peace with the Earth, each other, and all of nature. They have families just like humans do, with a mother, father, and children. They are hunters, gatherers, carpenters, artisans, herbalists, and inventors. They live in trees, underground, or anywhere they can hide and remain undiscovered. They are incredible creatures, and since I have a gift for drawing, I have filled journals with sketches of them over the years. I started the first journal on the very first day I met them. Of course I have kept all of it hidden—the journals and the Traegons—and I only share this with you now because they have given me permission to tell our story. 

There are Traegon villages out there, everywhere. I have only seen Karia and Juna’s village on a few occasions, and it was only when I was taken there by Karia through a process they call summoning. These incredible creatures do not make themselves known to everyone, so I consider myself lucky that I was one of the chosen ones. 

The first year that I met them, their village, which is located somewhere in a forest near where my family often went for picnics and weekend fishing trips, was nearly destroyed by an unscrupulous developer. He wanted to bulldoze the forest, all of it, for his own selfish reasons. We came to learn of an old Traegon prophecy which is why we were brought together. I believe it was fate, really. That was when my ordinary world became extraordinary because we realized then that we can do anything we put our hearts and minds to. We just have to believe in ourselves, in each other, and in what we wish to accomplish. 

That was just the beginning of many adventures we would have. Since then, we have become great friends. Herein is the tale of another of our amazing adventures. You may or may not believe my story, but that’s okay. Just open your mind to the possibility and decide for yourself…

Read the reviews!

As soon as you start this novel you are in the middle of action. An old Traegonia prophecy that had brought the protagonists together was the beginning of an adventurous life for them in the process of which they learned many things in life together. There is a sweet mention of a game Track 20 which was innovatively created as a combination of hide-and-seek and Marco Polo. The game to me appears to be an initiative by the two different species to make a step forward to come closer to each other. This had been the very code of success for them in the first novel in this series. 

Every impending event in the story is foretold or sensed by someone or the other and that keeps the adventure alive in this novel. The blazing fires which scared Karia in her dreams did have a link to the looming fate that the Traegons and Dino had to face together. The cute little explanations of what California, mountains and planes are to someone who has never seen them in their life will keep the young ones pepping with curiosity. 

Oracle Blastar’s role is as always an interesting one, unveiling old mysteries and giving way to the new ones. The way he sits for a deep thought is quite amusing as karia and Juna always think that he has gone off to sleep. Such tit bits make the tale humorous and enticing. This series also has some interesting adventure on the cliffs and some tight gripping moments. 

The second series is refreshing and has lots of action and moments. The pace is really good and there no dull moments. The characters are always up on their sleeves for something or the other. A good read for the teenagers and grown-ups who are still kids. Loads of fun and activities packed with this novel, so get your kids reading…”

–Sweta, Bookreviews for Booklovers by Booklovers

“The characters have such good friendships and connect…K.S. Krueger can alwayg bring extraordinary adventure.”

–YA Books All The Way!

Although her background has been in business, K.S. Krueger has always loved to write. She has written poetry and several children’s stories originally for her eldest daughter. Kim enjoys the idea of seeing the world through the eyes of her imagination and finds herself submerged in the worlds she creates. Imagination has never been in short supply ever since she was a child. 

Because her Traegonia series rides a fine line between fantasy and reality, it calls each reader to decide for themselves if they BELIEVE!  Kim has always believed that when you find something you truly love to do, even if you think it is just a dream, find your passion, the gift that is within you, believe in yourself and follow that dream. “Let yourself be open to the possibilities that await. You never know where they might take you.” 

Kim is a wife, mother, daughter, sister and friend. She is a writer, businesswoman, Reiki practitioner and spiritual person. She loves animals, nature and kids. Kim has lived in the Suburbs of Chicago all her life. She is creative and always tries to foster creativity in her own children as well as in others. You can visit Kim’s website at www.WorldOfTraegonia.com.

 

Short Story Review: Throw Like a Girl, Catch a Date by Christen Anne Kelley

A fun, light short young adult read is what you’ll find in “Throw Like a Girl, Catch a Date” by Christen Anne Kelley.

Lacey has built up a reputation as the girl who can knock them out of the park. Right now, though, all the girls are buzzing about prom and Lacey doesn’t have a date. Who needs a stupid prom date anyway. When she literally runs into Tom–a guy who hasn’t spoken a word to her in four years–for some reason she can’t get the nerdy Dungeons & Dragons playing guy out of her mind.

This is the first Little League Short Story by Kelley that I’ve read, but it won’t be my last (I have another on my Kindle). The author has blended a great plot with two characters you are wishing and hoping will get together. Lacey’s attitude and Tom’s awkward behavior make for several funny moments. What I enjoyed most is that Kelley really seems to understand this market, what’s on their minds, and things that are important to them.

I’ll definitely be on the look out for other stories by Christen Anne Kelley!

Rating:  :) :) :) :) :)

  • Publisher:Blue Cedar Publishing
  • Sold by: Amazon Digital Services
  • Language:English
  • ASIN: B005C20A1U
  • SRP:  $.99

I purchased a Kindle version of this short story from Amazon. I received no monetary compensation to provide this review.

Interview with Nicole Langan, Founder of Tribute Books

Beginning in 2012, Tribute Books will become solely an ebook publisher of young adult titles. In 2011, Tribute Books celebrated its 7th year as an independent publisher for independent writers. We got a chance to interview their founder, Nicole Langan, to talk about this most recent development.

It looks like 2012 is going to be a great year for Tribute Books. What made you decide to enter the YA market?

First and foremost, I am a fan of the young adult genre. I think with the enormous popularity of the Twilight and Hunger Games series, it has opened the flood gates for readers of all ages to enjoy the type of escape these books provide. Plus, I feel the quality of writing in the current young adult market can hold its own against any other literary category. The stories might be marketed to teens, but their crossover appeal can delight the sensibilities of a more adult reader.

What prompted the decision to be solely an ebook publisher for this market?

Without a doubt, it was the level of passion shown by young adult fans for the books they love. That level of enthusiasm for reading truly inspires me as a publisher. I love seeing the outpouring of support throughout the social media spectrum for titles like Becca Fitzpatrick’s Hush Hush series or Cassandra Clare’s uber-popular Mortal Instruments installments. Their excitement for the written word makes me want to get up in the morning.

Will you consider printed YA books in the future?

At this point, we’re probably going to remain focused on the ebook market. The book industry is in such a state of flux right now, it is probably best to wait and see how the dust settles before committing to offer future print publications.

Is there a particular story or stories for this market you’re hoping a writer brings to you?

I’m keeping my fingers crossed that I’m flooded with submissions of some damn good writing. For me, the particular focus isn’t so much of a priority as the overall quality of the author’s ability. If it’s good, I think avid readers will want to check it out regardless of what particular niche it falls into. If the buzz is positive, I feel readers will take a chance on different aspects of the young adult genre.

What are some of the most important skills a writer must have in order to be considered by Tribute Books?

My preference is to work with authors who have been previously published by a royalty-paying press. Ones that know the ins and outs of what it means to promote a book. I’m looking for authors who know what it means to have an established social media presence and are committed to maintaining a blog, Twitter account and Facebook page on a daily basis. If they’re willing to commit to the time and effort it takes to promote, then I’m here to help them every step of the way.

Here are additional details from Tribute Books:

  • They seek those who have experience having their work edited and know the effort required for successful book promotion.
  • There would be NO charge for authors, and those selected would receive 50% of the net retail price in royalties.
  • To begin, they’re looking to work with 12 authors in 2012, publishing one per month.
  • Tribute Books is a traditional publisher, not a vanity press.

Visit Tribute Books online at www.tribute-books.com to view their submissions guidelines.

The Christmas Spirit Reading Challenge Complete!

My first reading challenge was a success. I committed to reading 4 seasonal titles and ended up reading 7. Of course, 6 of them were short, so I almost felt like I was cheating a bit.

Here’s the list of books I read for the challenge:

Tumbleweed Christmas by Beverly Stowe McClure

Kevin’s Christmas by Liesbet Slegers

Jingle Bells and Deck the Halls illustrated by Veronica Vasylenko

Humbug A Christmas Carol by Lee Baker

Ricky’s Christmas Tree by Guido van Genechten

Main Street: ‘Tis the Season by Ann M. Martin

The Christmas Spirit Reading Challenge was sponsored by The Christmas Spirit blog.

Main Street: ‘Tis the Season by Ann M. Martin

A tender, yet heartrending tale of the season can be found in Main Street: ‘Tis the Season by Ann M. Martin.

Christmas is coming to Camden Falls, but Ruby and Flora aren’t quite sure how to feel about it. Camden Falls looks like it came right out of a picture postcard during the Christmas season, but this is their first Christmas without their parents. Thankfully they’ve made lots of nice friends. But when Olivia and Nikki are dealing with troubles of their own, it might be up to Ruby, Flora and some other residents of town to make their Christmas bright.

I love reading seasonal stories, mainly because I am a Christmas fanatic. The author does a fine job of portraying small town America during the holiday season. Martin’s writing is so descriptive that you truly feel you’re right there walking along Main Street, down Aiken Avenue, and in the Row Houses where many of this small Massachusetts town live.

I have to admit to being on the fence about this story, though. There’s so much conflict that it’s a bit overwhelming at times. Olivia might have to leave Camden Falls because her parents both lost their jobs. Then there’s Nikki, whose happy that her abusive father has gone away, but she doesn’t know when or if he’ll return, and he hasn’t sent the family any money, so Christmas will be tight. On top of that, Ruby and Flora are coping with their first Christmas without their parents, and other residents of town have troubles of their own. There’s also the unusual visit of Aunt Allie from New York. Ruby and Flora’s aunt can be a bit prickly, to say the least.

While the book ends on a happy note, I had a difficult time plodding through all the misery to get there. In addition, I feel it’s important for parents to read this book first, because certain Christmas secrets are revealed that might ruin the magic for the young reader in their home.

I would like to read the previous two books in this series to see if I feel differently about Martin’s Main Street books. This one just didn’t do it for me.

Rating:  :) :) :)

  • Publisher:Scholastic Paperbacks
  • ISBN-10:0439868815
  • ISBN-13: 978-0439868815
  • SRP:  $6.99 (paperback)

I purchased a copy of this book from a Scholastic Book Fair two years ago. I received no monetary compensation of any kind to provide my review.

 

This is a book I read for The Christmas Spirit Reading Challenge. To see my original list visit here. I have read 7 books for this challenge, and this completes my list.

Recent Seasonal Amazon Hot Releases

In book two of the Moosa series Moosa finds himself helping Santa deliver presents after Dancer gets injured.

A mischievous young thief is hurled through time on an adventure to discover forgiveness and the true meaning of Christmas.

Sandy Claws is a humorous animal parody of the Christmas stories, featuring a red lobster, appropriately named “Sandy Claws.” His quirky animal friends share the entire Christmas experience, culminating in the daring Christmas Eve flight to provide gifts for those in need. The satirical spoof features the warmth of close friends, danger, and subtle lifetime lessons. Originally a bedtime story the author told to his small children some thirty-five years ago, the narration is being released as a book for his grandchildren’s generation to enjoy.

Carrie is a little girl living in a sunny warm place. Soon, her family moves north. Everything is new and exciting as Carrie experiences a cold winter for the first time.

Christmastime has arrived! Ambette and Pierre Philippe hurry off to their favorite park in Paris, France. The 4 year-old twins are bringing a Christmas surprise to their two favorite ducks, Louis and Bona. What can the surprise be?

The Marshalls, a family wrapped up in their holiday traditions, can hardly wait to celebrate the season by decorating their Christmas tree. But to their surprise, their tree, Treena, has come to set the record straight and teach them what Christmas is really about!

Vordak the Incomprehensible: Rule the School by Vordak the Incomprehensible

I don’t really suffer from writer envy, but if I did, Vordak the Incomprehensible: Rule the School is the book I wish I had written.

This is the sequel to Vordak the Incomprehensible: How to Grow Up and Rule the World. I haven’t read the first book, but I want to own it like yesterday. In this new book, the evil supervillian Vordak wants to create a powerful freeze ray that will turn all the water on the planet to ice. But first, he starts with his Abominable Age-Reduction Ray. Whoops, when he tests it on himself, he ends up only being old enough to enter junior high school. Problem is, the balsoid coil broke and now he can’t reverse the effects of his Abominable Age-Reduction Ray until he finds a new one. Good thing Farding Junior High has one. So, Vordak, who has a penchant for alliteration, joins the ranks of students at Farding and attempts to rule the school while searching out the balsoid coil. If he gets a chance to wipe out his arch-nemesis, Captain Virtue, in the process, it will be all that much better. “MUAHAHAHAHA!!!”

School Library Journal said that fans of Jeff  Kinney’s Diary of a Wimpy Kid series and Dave Pilkey’s Captain Underpants books will enjoy this one. I totally agree. Outrageously funny, Vordak is a perfect supervillain. Part Dr. Doofenshmirtz (Phineas and Ferb) and part Boris Badenov (Rocky and Bullwinkle) he comes up with the most inventive inventions and silly schemes.

Filled with zany characters like Principal Combover, who enjoys making public announcements over the loud speaker, Marlena Lurchburger–Vordak’s rival for school president, lunch lady Agnes Lipwartz, and janitor Burfus Waxclog, Rule the School will have your reader ages 9 and up turning page after page. Vordak is the narrator of his own story–which by now probably won’t surprise you. Who else could tell this story? In a unique twist, Vordak banters with an unknown reader throughout the book.

The entire story takes place over eight weeks with Vordak bringing you through each week from Week 8 to current day. He is kind enough to start you off with “A Word of Warning,” which gives you some insight into this evil, sarcastic, inventive genius.

Kids everywhere will want to read this one. It’s too funny to pass up.

Rating:  :) :) :) :) :)

  • Publisher:EgmontUSA
  • ISBN-10:1606840142
  • ISBN-13: 978-1606840146
  • SRP:  $13.99

Another Whole Nother Story by Dr. Cuthbert Soup

Ethan Cheesman and his three smart, polite, and relatively odor-free children are back in a time traveling adventure in Another Whole Nother Story by Dr. Cuthbert Soup.

Mr. Cheeseman and his children travel back in time to see if they can end a family curse and thus reverse the death of their beloved wife and mother. With the LVR working it should be a cinch. But a crash landing leaves the LVR damaged, and technology in the 1600′s isn’t quite what it is in modern times. On the search for parts to repair the machine so they can carry out the rest of their mission, the family is chased by witch hunters. With Gateman Nametag hot on their trail the family must be smart and quick to avoid disaster.

In this follow-up to A Whole Nother Story, the Cheesman family is off on another hilarious adventure. My girls and I read this book together and they kept begging for more. Just as zany as the original, Another Whole Nother Story is filled with quirky characters, has a superb plot, and tons of action.  You can’t help but laugh at all the craziness, but there are several tender moments too.

Boys and girls will both love this one–especially the unsolicited advice from Dr Cuthbert Soup.

Rating:  :) :) :) :) :)

  • Publisher:Bloomsbury USA Childrens
  • ISBN-10:1599904365
  • ISBN-13: 978-1599904368
  • SRP:  $16.99