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Saturday, July 23, 2011

Meet My Guest Author, C.K. Volnek

Last week we met Jack Dahlgren, the brave boy who is the main character of Ghost Dog of Roanoke Island. Today I am very pleased to have the author of this tween novel, C.K. Volnek, as my guest. 

Not many people stopped by to visit with Jack, but I'm hoping more will come to learn about the author. C.K. is giving away your choice of two free gifts if you win the drawing. You need to leave a comment for her and you will be placed in the drawing. One is a tee shirt and the other is a promise of a copy of her book once it is published in September!!

Here is her interview with me:

Hello! And thank you for having me today, Barbara. I appreciate you inviting me to your blog. 

It is my pleasure! Your character was very polite and left the blog spotless.:) He did try climbing all over the furniture, though. But to his credit he took off his shoes.:)

In your bio it says you have three grown children. Did you write while they were growing up or did your writing come later?

My children are the light of my life. My husband and I are so lucky. I did write while they were growing up, by my writing was limited to short stories, article and magazine pieces. It was about eight years ago I wanted to get serious about writing novels. My children surprised me for Christmas and gave me my very own laptop. They wanted to show me they believed in my writing (and give me my own computer since I hardly had any time on our family computer.) Because of their support, I was determined to finish my books and get them published. I can only hope every writer has such great support.

Tell me a little about what is like to live in Nebraska? Have you ever lived in a city and which do you like better?

I have lived in small towns in Nebraska for most of my life. But I have also moved around a little as well. When my husband and I were first married, me moved to Iowa and then to Knoxville, Tennessee following his job. But after four years there, we were anxious to get back home and grabbed the first opportunity to move back to Nebraska. We lived in the city of Lincoln for many years, before moving our children to the small town of Seward. It was the best move we ever made.

There is nothing quite like living in a small town in the middle of the US. Rolling hills. Cornfields. Pastures filled with cattle. Peace and quiet. Friendly neighbors. My husband had a co-worker down from Minneapolis to help with a job and he was stunned that people would smile and wave at a complete stranger driving down the street. Life in small-town USA might not be exciting but it is the best place for me.

Have you done anything other than writing? Were you able to write during the time you worked it you did? (Skip this question if you didn’t work outside of your home.)

I have a degree in Commercial Art and have always worked outside the home. I still maintain my day job and will continue to do so until my writing provides an income on which I can thrive. Which will hopefully be soon!

Would you please tell us what it is like to raise fur-kid Papillon puppies? I am not familiar with this breed, but they sound cute.

I have to laugh with this question. I tell everyone I have four Papillons because they’re like potato chips, you can’t stop at one. Paps are very smart and don’t know they are little dogs. My first Pap, Noah, is actually a certified therapy dog. We have visited nursing homes and he often accompanies me to teach my 5th grade CCD class. He teaches many lessons of unconditional love, patience, tolerance, loyalty and obeying. I truly believe there is a reason that God spelled backward is dog. He gave them many qualities to teach us about Him.

Please describe a typical day of writing for you.

I wish I had a typical day of writing. Even though my children have grown and are mostly on their own, my days are never typical. Between work, my volunteer projects at church, family and friends, there is always something trying to tear me away from my writing. But I try to claim my evenings for myself. Most nights find me in my comfortable chair in the front room, laptop on my lap, and at least two or three of the pups in the chair and on the ottoman with me. There I will write, research, or market until I can’t stay awake any longer.

When you begin writing a new story are you a “pantser” or a “plotter”?

Actually, I’m a little of both. I generally have a good idea where my story is going when I start. But I can’t completely plot out the story or my character will get mad and change it all. My characters always drive the story. I do plot as I write, though, and jot down notes for future chapters, helping my characters keep on track.

What made you decide to write Ghost Dog of Roanoke Island?

Ghost Dog was started when I read an article about scientists finding a piece of wood they believed came from the mysterious Lost Colony of Roanoke Island. I was intrigued by the mystery and Jack took control of my muse and didn’t let go until the story was told. I still find it a little surreal the story flowed out as easily as it did.

In the story, Jack Dahlgren, your main character gets into a lot of trouble on his own. Is any of this based on your own or your children’s experiences?

Ha. You must be a mother. Of course Jack is modeled somewhat after my middle son. I love my boys. They are fun. They are bold. They are real. And I took those qualities, good and bad, to create a character kids can identify with. Jack doesn’t get along with his father and feels his dad treats him like a baby. Within the conflict of the story, Jack comes to realize the value of tolerance and forgiveness to save his relationship with his father, as well as stopping the evil that haunts Roanoke Island.

How much research did you have to do for this book?

I did quite a bit of research for this book, even down to finding the manifest of the original colonists and using many of those names in my book to keep it as authentic as I could. It was quite an interesting story and one that I as an American can be both proud and angry with. I am angry with Sir Richard Grenville for burning a whole Native American village because he suspected one native had stolen a silver cup. But I am proud of the colonists for their bravery in coming to a new land and make a new life. I can only hope that the mystery had a happy ending.

How are you planning to market this book? Will you be doing any book signings or blog tours?

There are many ways I’m marketing this book. Blogs, groups, facebook, twitter, Good Reads, Jacket flap, etc. etc. But I also plan to take it to the schools and am working on a teacher’s guide to go with it. I love meeting and talking with kids and hope to just get them interested in stories and reading. If they learn something about history along with it, then that’s a bonus.

Do you have any new books coming and any WIP’s you might be thinking of publishing?

I do have other books coming. Thanks for asking.

A Horse Called Trouble will be available in December 11. It’s a tween story of a troubled teen who must overcome her abusive past to save the defiant horse that taught her love and trust again.

I also have The Secret of the Stones coming in April, 2012. This is the first of a series called The Lost Diaries of Northumberland. In this first story, a Merlin-loving tween is thrust into magic mayhem when the gift he’s been entrusted to protect turns out to be the enchantment object detailed in a mysterious prophecy.

As for works-in-progress, I have three books in the works. The second book in the Lost Diaries series, a paranormal YA romance, and a YA story based on the true events of a school bus crash from my home town. That one is a very tough story to write, but with the many miracles that came from this horrible tragedy, it’s a story that has to be told.

Thanks again for having me today, Barbara. I’d love to hear more from my readers. They can contact me at They can join me on my web page:, or visit me at my blog: They can also find me on Facebook (C.K. Volnek) or Twitter (CKVolnek), Good Reads and Jacket Flap. My book trailer is on youtube - My book will be available at the MuseItUp Book Store:
as well as Amazon and many other fine book locations on-line.

Thanks again to everyone for visiting.

Thank you, C.K. for telling us all about you. I know that after reading the excerpt I wanted to read the book and I plan to review it as soon as I finish it.:) I can see how Jack could get hold of you since it's hard to stop reading about him.:)

Until the next time when my next guest on the blog will be Dale Thompson, and please tune into my Blog Talk Radio Show, RRWL Tales from the Pages next Thursday at 3PM Central Time and 4PM EST to hear R. Jeffrey and Richard Jennings, the author of Ghost Town, who will be my guests. 

Thank you to all who visited last week and the comment drawing will be this weekend. You still have time to go and leave a comment for the free upcoming book, Ghost Dog of Roanoke Island. If you haven't seen the trailer, go over to see it and read Jack Dahlgren's account of the mysterious events on that island on the last post: Meet Jack Dahlgren from Ghost Dog of Roanoke Island.

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Meet Jack Dahlgren from Ghost Dog of Roanoke Island by C.K. Volnek

                                              C.K. Volnek

Today, my blog has been taken over by the main character of C.K. Volnek's upcoming tween novel, Ghost Dog of Roanoke Island. She sent him over with promises he would behave and so far it has been a pleasure to meet him. I hope you agree when you read his account of what happened to him when he moved from Ohio to Roanoke Island in North Carolina. How would you feel if you had to leave all your friends and travel to another state when you were almost thirteen? 

Meet Jack Dahlgren

Hi, Barbara. I suppose you were expecting C.K. Volnek to be here today, but she was busy. Said something about getting ready for a book birthday. She seems pretty excited about that. Anyway, she asked me to step in and introduce myself…and reminded me to tell you thanks for inviting me to your blog. C.K. thought your readers might like to get to know the characters from her book a little better if I step in.

My name is Jack Dahlgren. Jack, not Jackie, like my dad calls me. Geesh, I’m almost 13 and he still treats me like a baby. I’m the main character from C.K.’s ghost story for tweens, GHOST DOG OF ROANOKE ISLAND.

Dad moved us to this beach house on Roanoke Island about two months ago. I wasn’t too happy about it. I’d rather be in Ohio. That’s where I’ve lived my whole life. That was home. But Dad got laid off last year. Things got pretty bad. I heard Mom and Dad whispering about the bank and someone taking the house. Then we got news my Great-grandma Ellis left us this house on Roanoke Island. I didn’t know Great-grandma very well. She’s had Alzheimer’s for as long as I can remember. She didn’t even recognize my mom and she’d raised her. Funny thing though, my mom didn’t know about the house on Roanoke Island. Guess Great-grandma had kept it a secret.

Anyway, Dad went to scope the house out. He found a job in nearby Manteo and that was all she wrote. He up and moved us, not even asking if it was okay by me. Guess my vote doesn’t count at all.

Dad kept making stupid comments about how cool it would be to live on an island off the coast of North Carolina, like he thought he would change my mind about Ohio. Won’t happen. It’s not like Ohio at all. I don’t have any friends or anything. None of the kids at school want to have much to do with me. They’re always teasing me about our creepy house, saying it’s haunted. The beach house is pretty run down and Dad is either at work or working on the house. Never has any time for me. He won’t even let me go exploring in the woods or the bluff...not since Kimmy’s accident.

(Sigh) Kimmy’s my little sister. She’s six. She fell off the bluff next to our house three weeks ago and is in the hospital. It’s not that high but she hit her head on a rock and has been unconscious ever since. Dad blames me for her fall. But I didn’t know she’d followed me up there! I’d do anything to take it back. Guess he’s got a right to blame me. I wasn’t supposed to be up there either. 

Mom’s been with Kimmy at the hospital since she fell. I wish she’d come home. Seems like I’m always in trouble with Dad. He’s so mad at me. He promised I could get a dog when we moved to the island. Except now he won’t talk about…not since the accident. But I’ve got to find a way to make him let me keep that big Mastiff I saw on the bluff. He’s a cool dog! And he must need a good home and he’ll be a great dog to have around. He’s already saved me from whatever that thing was I came across in the cave.

Dad would kill me if he found out…but I went back up the bluff. The hurricane was coming and I thought I’d heard Dad calling for help at the dock. But it wasn’t him, it was the dog. I followed him up the bluff to try and rescue him, but I fell over the side of the bluff just like Kimmy. I didn’t fall onto the rocks like she did though. I managed to hang onto the vines and all of a sudden this cave appeared. I jumped into it not knowing there was something else already there. As I was trying to find another way out of the cave, this thing came after me. I didn’t know what it was at first. It was really big and ugly. Pretty scary. But like I said, the dog saved me. Pretty brave for a dog.

Then I met this guy named Manny. He’s really cool even if he is an adult. He a Native American Shaman. He’s going to teach me how to whittle. He also seems to know what this thing in the cave is and said he’ll help me figure out how to stop it. Manny says it’s an evil creature conjured up a long time ago, from when the first colonists landed on Roanoke Island in 1587. My history book said 117 colonists disappeared back then...disappeared without a trace. I think this creature has something to do with it. 

Manny says I’m the only one who can stop it. I don’t understand, but I have to find out why. First I have to figure out what it is though and why it’s here. It’s scary but if I don’t stop this thing, it will continue to haunt the island and hurt or even kill people. I can’t let it get my family. I promised Kimmy I wouldn’t let anything bad ever happen to her again.

Plus, if I can stop it, maybe Dad won’t be so mad at me anymore. It could show him I’m responsible enough and he’ll let me keep the dog. Man I want that dog! But first, I’ve got to stop this monster thing...before it stops me.

I hope you’ll visit me in September when my book comes out. It’s one heck of a ghost story, with lots of action and adventure.

Thanks again.
Jack Dahlgren
Ghost Dog of Roanoke Island, by C.K. Volnek. Coming September, 2011 by MuseItUp Publishing.  

In 1587, 117 colonists disappeared without a trace from Roanoke Island, North Carolina, leaving behind not only unanswered questions, but a terrifying evil...
Twelve-year-old Jack Dahlgren hates his new home on Roanoke Island. Not only does Dad treat him like a baby, but now Dad blames him for his little sister’s accident as well. And no one at school wants to get to know the kid who lives in the old Ellis ‘haunted’ house. Could things get any worse?

Jack is about to find out it can. Inside a mysterious cave on the bluff next to Jack’s new home, a terrifying evil awaits—the same malevolent curse surrounding the mysterious disappearance of the Lost Colony. Now, it’s up to Jack to unravel the four-hundred-year-old mystery and save his family from the demon that haunts his island. With the help of an elusive Mastiff and new-found friend, Manny, a Native American shaman, Jack must discover what this devil is and find a way to put an end to its eternal hatred. But can he defeat it before it destroys him?

Jack rushed to the front door and reached for the doorknob. His hand stopped in midair as the door shuddered violently, shaking on its hinges. A deafening howl roared on the other side. The boards covering the windows shook, the nails screeching as though giant hands were trying to rip them from the house. The lights flickered and went out, leaving the house pitch dark.
Sweat broke out on Jack’s forehead. His heart drummed in his ears. Turning, he fumbled with the dials of the battery-operated radio on the end table. The announcer’s voice sputtered between static crackles. “Hurricane Da...earlier than expec...winds reaching...residents on Roanoke Island…take cover immediately. Stay…”
Jack leaned against the door, his mind whirling. Regret twisted inside as the argument with his dad hammered in his head…

* * * *

“Why can’t I stay home? I don’t need—”

Dad rushed around the front room, putting on his rubber boots and black slicker. “No. Get your coat on. I can’t trust—”

“Come on, Dad. I’ll be fine. It wasn’t my fault Kimmy—”

“Enough! Don’t argue with me, Jackie.”

Jack stiffened at the name. “I’m not a baby anymore. I’m almost thirteen, you know.”

Dad spun around, eyes flashing. “Then why don’t you act like it?” He let out a long breath. “Fine. Stay here. But don’t do anything stupid. I’ll be back before the storm—”

Jack bristled, his jaw twitching. “I’m not stupid.”

“That’s not what I meant—”

Jack didn’t let him finish. “Just leave! And I hope you never come back!” He stomped to his bedroom, slamming his door behind him.
                                                  * * * *
Jack swallowed. But, no matter how hard he tried, he couldn’t get the beach ball-sized lump out of his throat. “I didn’t mean it, Dad.”

Something banged against the porch, scraping along the boards. Jack jumped and listened. Was someone calling for help? Yanking the front door open, he stepped outside.

“Dad?” His voice was lost in the storm.

He strained to hear, something—anything. The boards of the long walkway leading into the water creaked and groaned. Someone was on the dock.


Ducking back inside the door, he grabbed his yellow slicker off the hook, slipped it on, and charged down the steps. A gust of wind shoved him back. Clenching his teeth with determination, he leaned against it, forcing his eyes to stay focused on the wild ocean. 

Dad would need his help getting the boat secured in this storm.

Jack staggered down the sloppy trail leading to the dock. The storm howled in his ears. A heavy sheet of rain tore loose from the sky. Dime-sized raindrops pelted his body, plastering his hair against his scalp. He pulled his hood up over his head and clutched it tight with one hand, but the wind tore it off again.

Bracing himself on one leg, Jack leaned over the railing and stared down the long wooden walkway bouncing on the water. Dad’s green runabout was nowhere to be seen. He scanned the choppy waves beyond the pier. Nothing. No one.

Jack shuddered and gazed back at the house; the run-down beach house they’d moved into two months ago.

Had it only been two months? It felt like two years.

Dad spent every free minute cleaning and fixing it up, even drafting Jack to help paint it, though Jack couldn’t seem to do anything right by his standards. Slowly, it had started looking like a normal house. Now, boarded up it looked haunted…like Tyler Johnson said it was.

Jack huffed, a sour taste filling his mouth. That was stupid. Tyler was stupid.

Jack closed his eyes. For a moment he was back in Ohio. In Ohio he had friends. He was on the baseball team, lead archer in boy scouts, and point leader in math wars at school. Here, there was no math wars, no boy scouts, and no teammates. No one wanted to be his friend. Tyler had made sure of that. No one wanted to get close to the kid who lived in the creepy old Ellis place.

The sound of splintering wood crashed behind him. Jack jolted and turned around. Waves heaved the wooden pier upward; smashing it into a hundred pieces.

Something moved alongside the detached garage at the far edge of the yard, sliding past the darkened yard-light. The light’s rusted frame hung in a half salute, a dejected soldier of metal. Jack blinked against the rain as a light-brown figure crept slowly, deliberately following the slope that led to the bluff at the back of the building. It stopped and opened it black mouth, a sad howl drifting on the wind. It was a dog. A Mastiff. Like the one he’d seen at the baseball field in Ohio last summer.

Jack stared. What was a dog doing out in the hurricane? He glanced around the large yard, expecting the dog’s master to appear. But, there was no one.

How could anyone leave a dog out in this?

The Mastiff turned and loped up a trail leading to the top of the bluff, his v-shaped ears flopping, long tan tail swinging.

Where was the dog going?

Jack gazed up at the vine-covered ridge and swiped at the water smearing his face. The bluff wasn’t really that high. Not a mile high cliff or anything. Why was Dad so worked up over it? Jack bit his lip. He knew why.

The Mastiff stopped midway up and looked back, his black eyes drilling into Jack’s. With a quick shake, the dog charged again to the top.

Jack felt dwarfed by the ridge. At the top a massive dead oak towered into the sky. A white sentry; its brittle, leafless branches reached so high they seemed to spear the dark clouds. Since Kimmy’s fall, Dad had forbidden him from ever going up there again. His stomach knotted.

C.K.’s contact information is:

Web Page:
You can also find her on Facebook (C.K. Volnek) or Twitter (@CKVolnek), Good Reads and Jacket Flap.
Her book trailers are on YouTube under the titles or ck volnek. Here is one of them:

Her books are available at the MuseItUp Book Store: , as well as Amazon and many other fine book locations on-line.

Please let Jack know how much you enjoyed his post by leaving a comment. There might be a prize of a free book when it is released in September.:)

Until the next time, I apologize for not posting regularly, but a variety of real life issues kept me from it. I appreciate the visitors who enjoyed my last post and I assure you that if you check the scheduled appearances here for the rest of July, August and September you will see I am very filled.:) We are holding an MG/YA Blog Tour and you can see all the stops I will make and who will be visiting here during the month of September. I will also be posting on various blogs and you can find my schedule here too. Go to Pages on the top of the blog.

Also I will be reading an excerpt from my YA novel, If I Could Be Like Jennifer Taylor on a webinar on August 14th. I will be posting the flyer for that in my next post. Meanwhile if you are interested, please go here to register for it. We also have a Facebook page devoted to the reading called Book Reads
If you go to the Facebook page please click Like. The reading will be on August 14, a Sunday at 8PM EST. If you miss it, there will be a way to hear it in archives. You can either listen on the webinar site or you can listen on your phone. There are lots of options. I will be with three other great writers.

Also my Blog Talk Radio Show, RRWL Tales from the Pages is going to have as my guests next Thursday, July 28th, Author R. Jeffrey and Richard Jennings, writer of Ghost Town. I will be reviewing Ghost Town before he comes on the show. If you have an elementary school aged child, you are going to want to listen to this show.

Monday, July 4, 2011

Happy 4th of July!!!

What a wonderful way to start celebrating the 4th of July!! I was a guest on Susanne Drazic's blog for her Christmas in July and she reviewed my book. I am so excited by what she said, so I'm sharing it with you here. You can also see it on her blog: Putting Words Down on Paper.

If I Could Be Like Jennifer Taylor is a YA book written by Barbara Ehrentreu. It is a book about young teenagers and their freshman year of high school. You will find that it deals with issues that are relevant to teenagers today, as they were to teenagers years ago.

Carolyn Samuels wants to be like Jennifer Taylor. Who wouldn’t? Jennifer Taylor has it all. She is popular and dating a junior quarterback in high school. She wears stylish clothes and has the perfect body. Jennifer Taylor’s life is perfect. Or is it?

Carolyn has dreams of getting her secret crush, being a cheerleader and having a thinner body. How far will Carolyn go to get what she wants? Will her decisions to do the right thing be clouded by what she so desperately wants to become? Will Carolyn lose her best friends, Becky and Janie, because of all this? Is Freshman year a new beginning for Carolyn Samuels or just more of what happened in middle school? You’ll have to read If I Could Be Like Jennifer Taylor to find out.

Barbara Ehrentreu truly understands how young girls think and how they might act when placed in certain situations. Young teens are feeling pulled between turning to a parent for guidance, seeking advice from friends or making decisions on their own; not always thinking of the consequences of those decisions. Her book touches on subjects that are definitely relevant to today's young teens. I definitely think this book is one that all YA readers will enjoy. (I love this part!!)

If I Could Be Like Jennifer Taylor will be released in September 2011, by MuseItUp Publishing

I had tears in my eyes when I read this, because it's been a long time coming for this book!!! Thank you to my entire Muse family! I couldn't have done this without you!

Until the next time, have fun this 4th of July!!

Saturday, July 2, 2011

Christmas in July!

So the sky is blue and the clouds are puffy white. The temperatures hover in the 80's and people spend their days basking in the sunlight. We are far away from the frigid temperatures of December, yet we are celebrating Christmas in July!!!

What this means is Suzanne Drazic has opened her blog to an author a day from July 1 - July 31, and she is also giving away fantastic prizes every day. I have been lucky to be chosen to be the guest for tomorrow, July 3rd and my topic is Bullies and Bullying. I hope you will stop over and check it out. Of course, please leave a comment so you can be part of the drawing for that day! My post will be up tomorrow.

Now what else would be like Christmas in July? Yes, the Muse Bookstore is having a giant sale that started July 1st and ends July 4th. This is not to be missed. If you want to stock up on your summer reading at amazing low prices come over and browse through the 54 books that are now on sale!!!

One more thing, that I have to share with you. Lin Holmes has moved me up to Goddess status. She has named me Goddess of Muse Word Spread for my highlighting of Muse authors on my Blog Talk Radio show, RRWL Tales from the Pages. I am very honored to be part of the Pantheon of Muse Gods and Goddesses!!

Until the next time, I apologize to anyone whose comment just got posted tonight. I check all the comments, but sometimes things get lost on Blogger. I don't know why, but they are posted now.

Everyone have a HAPPY 4TH OF JULY!!!
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