How a Historical Hero Can Inspire Young Readers by Fiona Ingram, Author of The Search for the Stone of Excalibur

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Continuing the adventure that began in Egypt a few months prior in The Secret of the Sacred Scarab, cousins Adam and Justin Sinclair are hot on the trail of the second Stone of Power, one of seven ancient stones lost centuries ago. This stone might be embedded in the hilt of a newly discovered sword that archaeologists believe belonged to King Arthur: Excalibur. However, their long-standing enemy, Dr. Khalid, is following them as they travel to Scotland to investigate an old castle. Little do they know there is another deadly force, the Eaters of Poison, who have their own mission to complete. Time is running out as the confluence of the planets draws closer. Can Justin and Adam find the second Stone of Power and survive? And why did Aunt Isabel send a girl with them?

Join Justin and Adam as they search not only for the second Stone of Power, but also for the Scroll of the Ancients, a mysterious document that holds important clues to the Seven Stones of Power. As their adventure unfolds, they learn many things and face dangers that make even their perils in Egypt look tame. And how annoying for them that their tag-along companion, Kim, seems to have such good ideas when they are stumped. Book extras include some historical background on King Arthur, the Dark Ages, warfare and weaponry during Arthur’s time, and details on Excalibur. A fascinating peek into the life and times of the real King Arthur, perfect for young time travelers and budding archaeologists.

For More Information

  • The Search for the Stone of Excalibur is available at Amazon.
  • Pick up your copy at Barnes & Noble.
  • Discuss this book at PUYB Virtual Book Club at Goodreads.
  • Find out the latest on the book at Facebook.

Guest post: 

How a Historical Hero Can Inspire Young Readers by Fiona Ingram

I’ve always been fascinated with the figure of King Arthur, so much so that when the idea popped into my head to use Excalibur, and thus King Arthur, in Book 2: The Search for the Stone of Excalibur, I couldn’t have been more pleased. Before I began my serious research, I had always thought of King Arthur as a kind of hazy figure who was mostly legend. To my surprise, I found enough information to pinpoint Arthur as a historical figure, a Dark Ages king, a Briton who lived and fought around AD 500. Arthur’s biggest achievement in history was turning the tide of the Anglo-Saxon advance at the Battle of Badon in AD 516, keeping Britain safe for the next fifty years. Starting around AD 700, references to Arthur and his brave exploits on the battlefield began to emerge and have continued to the present day.

Even in his own time, Arthur’s name became synonymous with heroic deeds, bravery, and victory on the field of battle. The half-mythical, half-historic nature of the original Arthurian legends developed with the retelling of the tales. With Arthur’s name becoming increasingly more mythologised, it was perhaps inevitable that with the advent of the first ‘fiction’ writing (around the twelfth century) that Arthur would appear in an even more heroic light than before. Following Arthur’s death at the Battle of Camlann (AD 535), his fame spread all over Europe. The Arthurian stories journeyed with merchants and other travelers from country to country, from city to city, from monastery to monastery, and from one royal court to another. The idea of chivalry emerged. This new code emphasized that one should live and conduct oneself with honor, courtesy, and bravery.

Why, centuries later, is the figure of Arthur still so important? Arthur is important to us because he appears as the ideal of kingship during both peace and war. He stands for all that is true and good in a leader. He became a conquering hero, a champion of peace and justice, a king of kings. This is the kind of hero that will appeal to young readers, and perhaps inspire them to emulate King Arthur, to be someone who ‘does the right thing,’ and stands head and shoulders above the rest just because he knows what makes a hero. Being a hero can encompass many things; it’s about standing up for what you believe in; defending someone who is weaker or who may be being bullied at school; making sure you treat people and animals with respect, love, compassion, and that you show the qualities of a young knight of the Round Table. A young reader can easily become a hero to his family, friends, and community by following the ideals that make a good, caring and responsible person.FionaIngram-794310

Fiona Ingram was born and educated in South Africa, and has worked as a full-time journalist and editor. Her interest in ancient history, mystery, and legends, and her enjoyment of travel has resulted in the multi award winning The Secret of the Sacred Scarab, the first in her exciting children’s adventure series—Chronicles of the Stone. Fiona has just published the second book entitled The Search for the Stone of Excalibur, a treat for young King Arthur fans. She is busy with Book 3 entitled The Temple of the Crystal Timekeeper.

For More Information

Read my review of The Search for the Stone of Excalibur here.

Read my review of the first book in the series, The Secret of the Sacred Scarab here.

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Guest Blogger Glenn Wood, Author of The Brain Sucker

The Brain Sucker by Glenn WoodThe Brain Sucker by Glenn Wood is a book written for middle schoolers (ages 9-12) featuring a Callum McCullock, a unique hero, and his two friends. Callum is confined to a wheelchair – but that certainly doesn’t stop them from moving to stop “The Brain Sucker“. We’re searching for websites, blogs, and other online locations where we can share information, interviews, reviews and much more about The Brain Sucker. The Brain Sucker was originally released by Walker Books Ltd in New Zealand, Australia and the UK and was a Sakura Medal nominee. It is now being released in the US and Canada by the author.

For much more about Glenn Wood and The Brain Sucker, you can visit his website –http://www.glennwoodauthor.com/

The Brain Sucker has been previously released in New Zealand, Australia and the UK. But this is the US and Canadian launch. Callum, his grandmother Rose, his friends Sophie and Jinx and the evil demented scientist Lester Smythe are heading to the US – and are ready to meet you!

The Brain Sucker is a critically acclaimed children’s book that has been published in Australasia and the UK by Walker Books. It follows the story of a disabled boy and his two friends who band together to defeat the evil plans of a demented scientist who has invented a brain sucking machine to rid the world of goodness.

Writing characters with a disability by Glenn Wood

I have an admission to make. I didn’t set out to include a disabled character in my story. While I have a reasonable knowledge of mental disability – my parents worked with intellectually handicapped people for some years – physical disabilities were new to me. I had never used a wheelchair myself or knew of anyone who was confined to one. This is how it came about.

When I first came up with the concept of The Brain Sucker I was confident the idea of an evil genius who had invented a machine that could suck the goodness out of kids was strong enough to explore further. I also knew that having a great central premise was not enough to carry the story. The book also had to be populated with strong and interesting characters.

Lester, my antagonist, came to me fairly quickly. His purpose and personality sprang directly from the book’s premise. But once his character was formed I needed an equally compelling hero. I wanted a character that had the guts to handle whatever was thrown at him, a boy who had already faced adversity and risen above it with strength and humour. The resulting protagonist was Callum, a thirteen-year-old boy who had been born with a spinal injury and was confined to a wheelchair.

This presented me with several challenges. As previously stated, I knew very little about children with disabilities or the restrictions faced by people in wheelchairs. It was vital I handled writing a disabled character with sensitivity and I was acutely aware that my character could never feel like a victim. I also wasn’t interested in writing a story where disability was the central theme. It became increasingly important that my readers saw Callum as a teenage boy first and foremost and the fact he was in a wheelchair became almost irrelevant.

Experts I spoke to confirmed this was the right approach and I quickly discovered that having a hero that was confined to a wheelchair was liberating rather than limiting. The way Callum copes with his disability opened up two very strong character traits. He became fiercely independent but also incredibly stubborn and this developed into one of the main themes of my story – the importance of being able to ask for help when you need it.

Writing a character like Callum has been a rewarding experience for me. The response to the book has been extremely positive with many reviewers commenting on how refreshing it is to see a disabled character in the main role in an action adventure.Glenn-Wood-Author-Brain-Sucker

Glenn Wood
Author of The Brain Sucker and The Bully Chip

 

Glenn Wood is an award winning copywriter and author who has four published books to his credit. These include his popular autobiographical novels – The Laughing Policeman and Cop Out – and two middle school books The Brain Sucker and The Bully Chip.

For more information about The Brain Sucker by Glenn Wood, visit his website http://www.glennwoodauthor.com You can get a copy of the book at http://www.amazon.com/Brain-Sucker-Thunderkit-Chronicles/dp/1512161624/

 

Blogging at Christian Children’s Authors: Themes in Children’s Literature

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Check out my post at Christian Children’s Authors where I compare discuss how some of the themes from books of my youth still appear in popular books today. You can find it at http://christianchildrensauthors.com/2015/07/17/themes-in-childrens-literature-then-and-now/

Coming Soon!: The Book of Dares for Lost Friends by Jane Kelley

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Val and Lanora have been friends forever. Val expects their relationship to stay the same. But after they start middle school, Lanora decides to reinvent herself. Her parents have split up, and she wants to rise above that. Unfortunately Lanora’s choices lead her into trouble. Val hates watching her friend lose her way. She wants to rescue Lanora, but how? Val doesn’t know what to do until a stray cat leads her to a strange boy who lives in an even stranger bookshop. Together they embark on a quest. Will they be able to save a lost friend? Will they get lost themselves? Or will they find a way to help each other become who they want to be . . . .

Jane Kelley has created a nuanced, universal story about friendship and that delicate time of adolescence when there is much to lose and much more to find.

Age Range: 8 – 12 years
Hardcover: 304 pages
Publisher: Feiwel & Friends (July 14, 2015)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1250050871
ISBN-13: 978-1250050878

Pre-order here!

Books to Film

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Every once in a while, I get to thinking about my favorite television or movie adaptations of books. Anne of Green Gables, Little House on the Prairie, The Chronicles of Narnia, Little Women, and Matilda come to mind.

For this generation, perhaps it is The Maze Runner, The Hunger Games, Divergent, and Harry Potter.

But whatever books we are talking about, when a popular book or book series is made into a movie(s), controversy surrounds it. Which characters did they change? What characters did they leave out? How much did they alter the story for film?

I remember the Lil’ Diva complaining for days because a certain character, and therefore, her favorite scene, were cut from Divergent. Gasp! How dare they?

What are some of your favorite television and movie adaptations? Were you ever irked in how they changed it for film?

Interview with Jody M. Mabry, Author of The Treasure at Devil’s Hole

Jody MabryBorn at Great Lakes Naval Base in Illinois, Jody has had the opportunity to live in places such as Cuba, St. Croix USVI, Mississippi, Illinois, and Kenosha, Wisconsin, where he spent the teen years of his life in an 1800’s farmhouse that was, of course, haunted. At fourteen Jody first heard the story of Arizona’s “Lost Dutchman Mine,” sparking an interest in adventure, ghost towns, and lost treasure. Always prone to telling a good story, Jody now passes on the tradition to his children who will no doubt find their own treasure someday. Jody and his family live in the charming Linden Hills neighborhood of Minneapolis, Minnesota. 

His lastest book is the middle grade novel, The Treasure at Devil’s Hole.

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Where did you grow up? 

I moved around a bit when I was younger. We lived in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, Illinois, but eventually settles into an old farm in Kenosha, Wisconsin.

When did you begin writing?

I’ve been writing as long as I can remember. I can’t actually recall a time in my childhood when I wasn’t writing. But, it was after reading Lloyd Alexander’s Prydain Chronicles that I decided I wanted to be a writer. That was in the 7th grade.

Do you write during the day, at night or whenever you can sneak a few moments?

My writing schedule is as flexible as it can get. I generally wake up around 4:00 AM, sometimes earlier, and write while everyone is asleep. I have a fifteen-month-old daughter, so I’ve set up a small desk in our living room, although once she sees me open my laptop she wants to pound the keys too. I’ve been known to write overnight while everyone sleeps, or anytime I can get a few minutes. It doesn’t always seem like it, but writing for 15-30 minutes several times a day adds up quickly.

What is this book about?

The short answer is that The Treasure at Devil’s Hole is about a young boy in search of treasure. Francis “Bug” Mosser is obsessed with a legendary outlaw treasure and elicits the help of his brothers and best friend to seek it out. What he finds in the end, is more than just the treasure. He finds love, small town shenanigans, bullies, a big family secret, and the notion that adventures never quite turn out the way you expected.

What inspired you to write it? The Treasure at Devil's Hole 2

I was inspired by a story my dad told me when I was younger. It was about him and his brother digging a well with dynamite. The Treasure at Devil’s Hole begins and ends with this story. The problem I had was that I was trying to tell the story of the well, which wasn’t exactly a book length story. It was when I began telling the story from a different character’s point of view that The Treasure at Devil’s came to be.

Who is your favorite character from the book?

My favorite character is Miss. Julia Brandon, the gun-toting teacher. I thought it would be fun having a young attractive teacher who was sweet and charming turn into a Bonnie and Clyde type of character. I never planned it, but as I wrote I thought it would be a fun twist. That being said, I was shocked that the main character Francis “Bug” Mosser was so popular. I’ve received several emails from middle graders who said he was one of their favorite characters in any book, or that they could relate to him. I was very surprised, especially considering he wasn’t my favorite character.

Where can readers purchase a copy of your book?

The Treasure at Devil’s Hole is available on Amazon.com, or Jodymabry.com. It is also available in libraries and independent bookstores throughout the Midwest, South, and East Coast.

Do you have a video trailer to promote your book?  If yes, where can readers find it? 

I don’t, but in doing marketing research I’ve seen some great video trailers, so it may be an addition to my 2016 marketing campaigns.

What is the best investment you have made in promoting your book?

This is a good question for other writers. Most writers, in an effort to save money, try to market for free. This would include tweeting your book on Twitter dozens of times a day. We tend to take the volume marketing approach. This never worked for me. Blog tours, book giveaways, and any marketing that connected me with readers were the best investment. Giving away books for free has helped a lot. I have the opportunity to talk to someone about the book, connect with them, and in turn they talk about me and my books.

It may sound silly, but for over a year I ran ad campaigns on Amazon.com knowing I’d likely lose money, and I did. I did it because the campaigns guaranteed me a couple dozen sales a week, both physical and eBook. While I was losing money my sales rank remained high enough that when I stopped the ads my book continued to sell for a few months. Now, I run a campaign for about three months of the year, and no longer lose money. This is a good example that in many cases you need to spend money to make sales.

What is one piece of advice you would like to share with aspiring authors everywhere?

Well, dare I repeat the often repeated? The best advice is to write. Not only do you strengthen your skills, but much like pulp writers of the early 20th century, the more you write the more likely you are to sell. This was an early lesson I learned. After finishing The Treasure at Devil’s Hole I had hundreds of requests for a sequel. I had no idea that was coming. Had I had a sequel out within a couple months I would have nearly doubled sales that first year.

What is up next for you?

I’m putting out several shorter books for middle graders The Ghosts of Jasmine Bogs and The Pirate’s Lighthouse, among others. The Strange Circus is a sequel to  The Treasure at Devil’s Hole. This was unplanned, but I received so many emails from readers asking when the next book will be out, that I couldn’t help myself. Strange Circus is slated for June of this year. In November, Orphan Train, will be coming out which is independent from the other books. Then I plan on at least two books a year, with several shorter ones mixed in.

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Interview with K. E. Ormsbee, Author of The Water and the Wild

K. E. Ormsbee

When did you first get bit by the writing bug?

I was a huge bookworm as a kid, and that love for stories grew, as it so often does, into a desire to tell my own. When I was twelve, I began my first project: an epic high fantasy complete with hand-drawn map. I called my fantasy land Marladia, which I now realize sounds a little too much like marmalade. I only made it four chapters in before abandoning that very ambitious project, but ever since then I’ve been an avid writer.

Why did you decide to write stories for children?

I’ve wanted to write for children for as long as I’ve wanted to write, period. Growing up, I was deeply impacted by children’s literature. Books like Matilda, Bridge to Terebithia, and Charlotte’s Web—just to name a very few—influenced the way I perceived life, death, and myself. I wanted to write stories that gave young readers the same sense of understanding, hope, and camaraderie I took away from my own favorite books.

Do you believe it is harder to write books for a younger audience?

Well, my only experience writing for “adults” was my short fiction creative thesis in college, so I’m not sure I’m very qualified to comment. I will say I’ve found it much harder to write my Middle Grade books than my Young Adult books. Which isn’t to say one process is more enjoyable than the other! It’s just that so far my YA projects have flowed much more easily and quickly. Does that mean it’s harder to write books for a younger audience? Maybe… But I think it’s always worth the effort!

What is your favorite part of writing for young people?

Hearing back from young readers and their teachers. I was lucky enough to attend the NCTE Annual Convention last year, where I met some of the most gracious, compassionate, fascinating people. English teachers ROCK, and it’s such a thrill to send a signed book back to the classroom. And I could talk to young readers all day long. Last holiday season, I had a conversation with my cousin, who is in his teens and has long professed his hatred of reading. He was raving about Looking For Alaska and several other YA books he’d recently discovered. “It’s weird,” he told me. “I like reading books now.” I didn’t tackle hug him, because he’s too cool for that, but I was bursting with happiness after that talk. That’s why I write. For readers like my cousin, who just needed to find a book that spoke to him, a protagonist he could relate to, and a plot he could get behind. One book can change everything.

Can you tell us what your latest book is all about?

The Water and the Wild is the story of a girl named Lottie Fiske, whose best friend Eliot is dying of a mysterious illness. In an attempt to find a cure, Lottie travels through a magical apple tree’s roots into a parallel world called Albion Isle. On her journey, she’s joined by a poetry-spouting boy with untouchable hands, a girl who can hear for miles in every direction, and a royal heir who can taste emotions. As Lottie and her companions make their way to the Southerly Court, where the one healer who can save Eliot is being held captive, they encounter many obstacles, including the sinister wolf-like Barghest, oblivion-filled swamps, and giant spider webs. It’s a story filled with poetry, adventure, friendship, and MAGICAL BIRDS.

What inspired you to write it?Water and the Wild_FC_ HiRes

In the summer of 2008, the image of a white finch in a green apple tree lodged itself soundly into my brain. I wrote down a description of that image, which would eventually become some of the first pages of The Water and the Wild. Then I wrote an outline of the story, which drew some of its inspiration from my love of fantasy, Shakespeare, English Romantic poets, and folklore from the British Isles.

Where can readers purchase a copy?

Anywhere books are sold! Here are a few handy dandy links:
Indie Bound (http://www.indiebound.org/book/9781452113869)
B & N (http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/the-water-and-the-wild-katie-elise-ormsbee/1119943015)
Amazon (http://www.amazon.com/Water-Wild-Katie-Elise-Ormsbee/dp/1452113866)

What is up next for you?

Right now, I’m working on four projects. The first is a sequel to The Water and the Wild, which is slated for a Fall 2016 release. The second is my YA contemporary debut, Lucky Few (Simon & Schuster 2016), about a homeschooled girl and her neighbor, a boy struggling with death anxiety. The third is a standalone MG called The House in Poplar Wood (Chronicle, 2017). And the fourth is a Super Top Secret project that’s still under wraps.

Do you have anything else to add?

Thank you so much for having me on your blog! Keep on keeping on, and live long and prosper.

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