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Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Meet Carolyn Meyer, Guest Author

You can say this has been a very eclectic summer on this blog. We have had on everyone from children's authors, young adult and the occasional adult author. Today I am very pleased to introduce you to Carolyn Meyer, who stumbled on my blog and what a lucky day that was! Carolyn is one of the most prolific authors we have had on the blog. Carolyn has published over 50 books for children and young adults and many of them have been translated into other languages.

Here is a list of some of Carolyn's books:

THE WILD QUEEN: The Days and Nights of Mary, Queen of Scots 
Daughter of the Scottish king, Mary leaves her homeland as a child, is sent to marry the future king of France, where life does not go according to plan. She returns to Scotland as a young woman to rule--a wild queen in a wild country.

Where the Broken Heart Still Beats: The Story of Cynthia Ann Parker 
Texas in the 19th century: Comanche Indians kidnap a white child, age 9. Cynthia Ann grows up with them, learns their language and culture, marries, has three children, and then is "rescued" against her will by the Texas Rangers 25 years later.

White Lilacs 
Based on actual events in a small Texas town in the 1920s, the story of Rose Lee Jefferson is set in the African American community of Freedomtown.

Jubilee Journey 
The sequel to WHITE LILACS, the story of Rose Lee Jefferson, her descendants, and her African-American community, continues here.

Cleopatra Confesses 
It is the first century B.C. Cleopatra, the third of the pharaoh's six children, is the one that her father has chosen to be the next queen of Egypt. But when King Ptolemy is forced into exile, Cleopatra is left alone to fend for herself in a palace rife with intrigue and murder.

The Bad Queen: Rules and Instructions for Marie-Antoinette 
Now here was a girl with a terrible reputation. Everyone believes she once said, when told the French people were starving, "Then let them eat cake!" But she never said that. Here is the REAL story of the French queen, beginning with her childhood in Vienna and following her to Paris, her marriage to a man who preferred food to almost everything else, her love for....well, read it and see. And follow her all the way to her most unhappy end.

This is the latest in the YOUNG ROYALS series.

Loving Will Shakespeare 
Anne Hathaway is a feisty young woman who hates her life. So why wouldn't she fall for a charming fellow seven years younger?

Marie, Dancing 
One of three sisters who were dancers in the Paris Opera ballet in the 19th century, Marie became the model for artist Edgar Degas's famous and controversial sculpture, "Little Dancer, Age Fourteen"

The True Adventures of Charley Darwin 
Charley Darwin didn’t know what he wanted to be when he grew up. He hated sitting in a classroom -- and loved being outside collecting birds’ eggs, rocks, and insects. It seemed he might never make anything of himself, but at the age of 22, he set off on a trip around the world on HMS Beagle and changed scientific thought forever.

In Mozart's Shadow: His Sister's Story 
This is the story of Nannerl, "the other Mozart,"a passionate musician who never stopped dreaming. While her bratty brother tours the world and forges ahead into a celebrated musical career, Nannerl is left behind; her only comfort is her music. But is that enough?

Anastasia, Isabel, and Kristina: The Royal Diaries 


Three "diaries" of three exceptional young women

Here are five more books in the YOUNG ROYALS series...
click on the image to order

Patience, Princess Catherine

The story of Catherine of Aragon, who journeyed from Spain to England as the bride of Prince Arthur, only to be widowed soon after her wedding. After many difficult years, she became the wife of Arthur's brother, Henry VIII. But her troubles were far from over.

Duchessina: A Novel of Catherine de' Medici

The story of the Italian girl who survived an orphaned childhood shut up in a convent and became Queen of France.

Review: "With meticulous historical detail, sensitive characterizations, and Catherine's strong narration, Meyer's memorable story of a fascinating young woman who relies on her intelligence, rather than her beauty, will hit home witih many teens."

Mary, Bloody Mary

Mary Tudor, daughter of King Henry VIII of England, was a beautiful young princess accustomed to every luxury until her father divorced her mother to marry Anne Boleyn [see Doomed Queen Anne below] and banished Mary to a humiliating life.

Review: "Accurately captures the glitter and grandeur as well as the brutality of this fascinating period in history."

Check out this student-made trailer on YouTube:

Named one of the Top Ten Best Books for Young Adults by the ALA.
2002 Young Readers' Choice Award, Pacific Northwest Librarians Association

Doomed Queen Anne

This is the true story of the girl everyone loved to hate--the girl who won the heart of England's most powerful man, King Henry VIII, and risked everything to become queen.

Review: "Masterful characterizations and descriptions of England at the time."

Beware, Princess Elizabeth

Princess Elizabeth's father, King Henry VIII, is dead. Now at the mercy of those in power, Elizabeth is imprisoned by her own sister, Mary; betrayed by the man who has captured her heart; and forced to practice a religion that defies her deepest beliefs. But through it all, the fair-haired princess is determined to stay alive, and to do whatever is necessary to one day rule her beloved England.

Look for more books soon from Carolyn Meyer!!eview: "Gripping historical entertaining tale of intrigue, self-discovery, and royal wrangling....SABEL: JEWEL OF CASTILLA

Meet Carolyn Meyer!!!

Carolyn has decided to take over the blog so here she is talking about what it is like to re-issue a book which you have written over twenty years ago:

How hard could it be? 
A fellow YA writer suggested that I resurrect some of my backlist and publish them as e-books. Of the more than 50 books I’ve written for children and teens, the choice was easy: a series of novels about four high school kids who start a peer counseling hotline in the aftermath of a friend’s suicide. More than twenty years ago I’d gone through suicide-prevention hotline training and spent another six weeks volunteering. The first of the four-book Hotline series, Because of Lissa, was published in 1990; three more books followed at six-month intervals. 
My stepdaughter, Vered, who was thirteen at the time, is now a graphics designer and has her own publishing business with the skills and the software to design new covers and produce the novels as e-books. All I had to do was retype the books in manuscript form, updating the content as I went along. It should be a breeze, right?
Except that it’s a different world now. A whole generation has grown up since I wrote those books. Vered has gone from brat to businesswoman. No doubt many of the young adults who read the Hotline novels twenty-two years ago now have teenagers of their own. Probably the single biggest difference—in terms of the storyline—is the advent of the cellphone as the principal means of communication. Since most of the plot points involve phone calls made or not made, answered or missed, a number of scenes had to be rewritten. One of the main characters in the original series was Lan Nguyen, a refugee from Vietnam. In the revised version, Lan is American-born, and his story becomes his mother’s. 
Fortunately, not too many other details had to be updated—Jenny’s parents now drive a hybrid and platform shoes make a brief appearance, but since I’ve never tried to use slang in my dialogue, I don’t think I’ve committed any gross errors in speaking style.
Books do have a different look now, though—just compare the cover of the original paperback, Because of Lissa, circa 1990, with the new e-book cover, scheduled to debut this week on

Thank you so much, Carolyn, for letting us know about your writing process. Updating a book is difficult. I remember what happened when I went back to the manuscript of my second novel and realized so much needed to be changed. A lot has happened in technology even in five years. 

                                        This is the original book cover for Because of Lissa

                                             Here is the new cover for Because of Lissa

Usually, I have my Guest Authors give me a Bio, but for Carolyn Meyer, I think it is best to go to her website, where she does a really good job of filling in all the important facts about herself.

She is also on


Thank you for being my Guest Author, Carolyn, and I hope that you will return when your series is released.

I also want you to know that today I am also on Cher Green's blog with Voices of Fiction, which is an answer to a question authors were asked. If you want to know more about me check it out.


One more interesting fact I found by reading PW Daily. This article says that a study shows 55% of Young Adult books are bought by adults! So don't feel bad the next time you pick up a YA book and don't bring it home for your child. It's okay to read YA!!!

Until the next time, I will be doing my radio show the 4th Thursday of this month, but at the moment I don't know who the guest will be be. It's a surprise.:)

Also, another author friend of mine, Marian Lanouette, who is a MuseItUp author too, is giving a reading at The Mark Twain House in Hartford, CT. I am hoping to get up there to see her. Again, if you live anywhere near there you should definitely try to make it. The house is worth seeing too!!!

You never know what will happen when you go to a reading. If you are one of my Facebook friends, then you saw what happened when I went to Donna Marie Merritt's reading in Mystic, CT. If you didn't, then here is the photo of me reading my poetry at an improvised open mic appearance. Thank goodness for IPhones!!!

Sunday, September 9, 2012

Meet Guest Author, Katie Carroll

I am very pleased to introduce you all to Katie Carroll, who is also a MuseItUp author. Katie has written a YA book that will transport you to a world of fantasy. I am very pleased to have Katie as my guest author. Here is more about her:


Katie Carroll began writing after her 16-year-old sister unexpectedly passed away. Writing was a way for Katie to help her sister live on in the pages of a story. It also made her realize that she wanted to pursue writing as a career. In addition to penning novels for teens and kids, she edits puzzle magazines, plays soccer, and collects signed copies of books. Katie lives in Connecticut with her husband and son.

How sad that must have been for her. I wonder how many authors have started writing to help ease the pain of a loss. Also, Katie lives in my state!!! How exciting is that!!!

Here is a little bit more from Katie about how she creates her characters:

As a writer, I’m always mining my own life for material, but nothing I write is truly autobiographical. In Elixir Bound several of the characters are inspired by real people (and one is even named after a real person). Note I said “inspired.” It’s not that I actually wrote a book about people I know. Even if Elixir Bound didn’t take place in a made-up world, it’s still far from a memoir. 

Characters are not real people. Let me repeat that: Characters are not real people. Real people are boring. Real people act in ways that are inconsistent and don’t always make sense. Real people do things that don’t serve a story, like eat three meals a day, brush their teeth, and shower. In theory, my characters do those things, but in fiction, they only do things that serve the story. 

Like real people, though, characters should have more than one side to them, and they should have faults. Maybe you know someone who is super sweet and generous with her time. She doesn’t lose her temper very often (and here comes the flawed part), but when she does, watch out! The flip switches and she becomes a crazy person. 

Okay, I’m exaggerating a bit here, and the person I know isn’t nearly that bad. But the character inspired by this real person is that bad because the story calls for her to be that way. Characters are often larger than life, and that’s a good thing. They should be. (Larger than life doesn’t necessarily mean loud or in-your-face. It could be a character is shy, and the larger than life part is that they are so shy it is debilitating.)

Reading gives us the chance to live vicariously through a character. I like when I see myself in a character, but I like it even better when that character is an exaggeration of any self I can imagine (good or bad). So provide your readers with interesting, dynamic characters that are more than the real people that inspire them. 

That is so true, Katie. Characters create and drive the plot. Readers will continue reading to find out what will happen to the character. 

Let's find out more about your book, Elixir Bound.


Katora Kase is next in line to take over as guardian to a secret and powerful healing Elixir. Now she must journey into the wilds of Faway Forest to find the ingredient that gives the Elixir its potency. Even though she has her sister and brother, an old family friend, and the handsome son of a mapmaker as companions, she feels alone. 

For it is her decision alone whether or not to bind herself to the Elixir to serve and protect it until it chooses a new guardian. The forest hosts many dangers, including wicked beings who will stop at nothing to gain power, but the biggest danger Katora may face is whether or not to open up her heart to love.

e w
     Katora remained perfectly still; her father’s words deflated the balloon of anger building inside her and filled the hole with cold shock. 

     Pop stood and began to pace while he explained. “Deep in Faway grows the plant that gives the Elixir its potency. The Kase family and our ancestors have harvested this plant and acted as guardians of the Elixir for hundreds of years. We developed methods for increasing its potency and have passed these secrets down for generations. I am the current guardian.”

     Pop the guardian of the greatest healing Elixir ever available to humans? Could it be true? As he stood in front of Katora, his eyes betrayed no hint of a lie. How did she fail to notice this all her life? And what did it mean for her?


Snowflakes swept across the southern tip of the Great Peninsula and covered Faway Forest. The heavy flakes weighed branches down on their trunks, like limbs of a predator closing in around a victim. A white shroud always blanketed the more northern Blanchardwood, but Faway had escaped the winter weather for hundreds of years. A storm like this usually bore a message, though deciphering it could prove difficult.
On the outskirts of the forest in the small town of Tussar, Katora Kase stood among the essenberry vines growing along neat lines in the field behind her house. She marveled at the strange precipitation. None of the living Tussarians—even the elderyears—had ever seen snow before. Katora smiled as the flakes tickled her face and melted.
Down the aisle, Katora’s younger sister, Kylene, twirled in the swirling snow. With arms straight out, face to the sky, the girl’s long blond hair fanned out around her. This weather suited Kylene; Katora identified with the rain, deliberate and relentless. In the snow, Katora almost forgot she was a primeyear woman about to take over her family’s farm. She envied the carefree way her sister danced with the flakes.
A snowball flew out of the vines and thumped Kylene in the chest. Bhar, the youngest Kase sibling, laughed as his tall figure squeezed between the rows. Although the oldest of the three, Katora was the shortest, her athletic body somewhere between Bhar’s bulky build and Kylene’s willowy figure. Kylene’s white-blond hair looked bright against the snowy backdrop, while Bhar’s golden hair, which matched Katora’s, looked dull and wet.
Kylene grabbed her own snowball. Soon a friendly battle consumed Bhar and the younger sister. Confident no one paid her any attention, Katora stuck out her tongue and caught a big flake. A pinprick of ice froze the tip and disappeared in an instant. Katora’s smile lasted about as long when she realized what snow meant for the first crop of the year.
Kase Farm had faced hardships in the past, but not since before Katora was born. The Kases used essenberries to make essence, a popular but rare beverage the family fermented to capture the mood of the growing season in a bottle. Over the years, Katora learned how to grow the essenberries and turn them into essence. A bad first crop meant less essence to sell, which meant less profit, which meant—well, Katora wasn’t exactly sure what that meant. She sighed. Given that she didn’t know as much about the business end of the farm, it was yet another thing she must learn.
Katora plucked a tiny essenberry from the vines and squeezed. Frozen solid. She tossed it in her mouth and let the warmth release the sour juices of the unripe fruit. If only she could eat all the frozen essenberries so they didn’t go to waste. Like any good farmer, Katora hated waste.
A snowball smacked her in the back of the head interrupting her inspection of the vines. She turned to see Bhar’s fiendish grin. Bhar’s age put him barely in his primeyears, but he often acted like a youngeryear.
“You dirty little—” Katora yelled as she grabbed snow and threw it at him.
She wasn’t really annoyed; the distraction brought her some relief. Although it would have been fun to join the fray, Katora knew she must tell Pop about the ruined crop. She sprinted away, snowballs chasing her every step. She slowed to catch her breath when she neared the house and spotted Pop in the window. Deep lines etched his brow. She caught his gaze and smiled. His return grin warmed the wrinkles off his forehead. He met her at the back door.
“Don’t worry about the essenberries.”
Pop could always read her mind when it came to the farm. “It’s early in the season, and we’ll be able to make up for what we lose today.”
She brushed the snow from her clothes. “How?”
The corner of his eye pinched together. “I said you needn’t worry about it.”
The casual tone didn’t match his pensive face. Kase Farm was the only source of essenberries in the Great Peninsula. Each vintage produced a unique flavor. Memories vanished with even one harvest’s failure.
Katora worked every day to capture in a bottle the triumphs and tragedies of the year. To forget a season was to forget her own past. Pop pounded this lesson into her brain over and over, and now he instructed her not to worry.
She tried a different angle. “But won’t this create a financial hardship on the farm? I have to know these things if I’m going to run it.”
“You’ll learn all these things in time. One lost crop won’t bankrupt us.”
Pop rubbed the stubble on his face. Most of the whiskers were the same dark brown as the hair on his head. For the first time, Katora noticed a few gray ones poking out of his chin. Pop stroked his beard only when he worried. He remained silent.
Never one to let someone brush her off, Katora persisted.
“If that’s true, then why were you frowning?”
“I don’t like this weather.” The next part he muttered to himself so Katora almost missed what he said. “Weather like this means a short sleep before an inevitable disturbance.”

Please leave a comment for Katie, since she is giving away a free book to the lucky winner of the comment drawing!!

Thank you for being my guest author, Katie and I hope that since we live in the same state we will meet some day.

Here is where you will find Katie and her books:

Here is a fun activity for anyone who lives in Connecticut. My poetic friend, Donna Marie Merritt is having a reading tonight, September 10, 2012 at Mystic, CT called Poetry and Music. She would love for anyone who enjoys poetry to join her. Her poetry is lyrical and tugs at your heart. She is a joy to listen to and I am looking forward to seeing her read.

I am extending the comment time for my guest author, Kathy Rygg. Kathy is giving out a free copy of Animal Andy to the lucky winner of the comment drawing. This is such a great MG book and I'm wondering why more people haven't commented. Here is your chance. Though I am entertaining a new guest author today, please go over and leave a comment for Kathy. You just might win a free book!!
Meet Guest Author, Kathy Rygg.

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Meet Guest Author, Kathy Rygg

Today I am very pleased to introduce you all to Kathy Rygg, author of Animal Andy, who is here to talk about her latest middle grade book from MuseItUp Publishing. I am thrilled to highlight authors from MuseItUp, since this is my publisher as well!

Let's find out a little more about Kathy.

Tell us a little about your background and how you became an author.

I have a degree in magazine journalism and have worked for a number of publications as well as several Fortune 500 companies in marketing and public relations. I’ve always written in some form, but it wasn’t until after I had kids that I tried writing for children, and I was instantly hooked! I have a real comfort zone with the younger middle grade voice (probably because I’m around it all the time with my own kids). And there’s nothing better than going on a school visit and hearing a room full of children tell you how much they love your book! 

What is one of your favorite books and why?

Growing up, one of my favorite book series was The Borrowers by Mary Norton. I loved the creativity of little people living in the walls who borrowed household objects. To this day, whenever I misplace an item, I always say, “The Borrowers must have taken it!”

Barbara: My favorite book was Alice in Wonderland, so the first story I wrote was a fantasy story. I have since turned to realistic. Though I haven't read The Borrowers, I have seen the cartoon and the idea is very cute. In our house we used to say "Mr. Nobody took it.":)

I also loved the Mrs. Piggle Wiggle books by Betty MacDonald. In fact, my children’s chapter book, Tall Tales with Mr. K is my modern-day version of Mrs. Piggle Wiggle. I love the premise of an eccentric, magical mentor who helps children with common problems using fun, quirky, “adventurous” methods.

How would you describe your writing process?

I’m a planner at heart and highly organized. I always outline each chapter before I start writing so I have a big picture view. Of course it always changes along the way, which is the fun part. I also love the revision process. There’s nothing better than taking something you think is good and making it better, and better, and better.

What inspired you to write ANIMAL ANDY?

My kids were enthralled with The Magic Treehouse series by Mary Pope Osborn, and I wanted to write a magical realism story that could transport kids to another world—the world of animals! Our city’s zoo has a beautiful menagerie carousel, and it was during a zoo outing with my kids that I decided a carousel would be the perfect device—each time Andy rides the carousel at the zoo, he turns into whichever animal he was riding at the time. I interviewed zoo keepers to get behind-the-scenes information, learn about animal behavior, and discover some pretty funny things that animals do.

What has been your most successful marketing tool?

Working with other authors is invaluable. To appear on one another’s blogs, tweet about each other’s books, and have a support group you can turn to for questions, ideas, etc. makes all the difference in this market. Books only sell through word of mouth, and the more mouths you have helping you, the better!

Barbara: I agree! The friendships I have made with other bloggers and with the writing community in general have been invaluable. I also find that meeting people and telling them about your book while giving them a card with all the information helps a great deal. I carry my cards around with me all the time!! I also give out book marks. People love those and it gets your book in front of them even if they are reading something else.

What advice would you give to other authors?

The best advice I have is the advice I once received from a well-known author—read as many books as you can in your genre. You should devote just as much time each day to reading as you do to writing. If there’s a book you really enjoy, identify why that is—is it the writing style? The voice? The characters? Then try to apply it in your own work. I also believe practice makes perfect—writers get a little better each time, so don’t ever stop! 

Please tell us a little about your book.

Ten-year-old Andy Ohman is spending his summer working at the Aksarben City Zoo where his dad is curator. There are rumors that the city might close the zoo due to budget cuts. An anonymous donor has given the zoo an antique animal carousel, and Andy’s dad is hopeful it will help boost attendance. Andy’s doubtful that an old kiddie ride will make a difference. He doesn’t see what’s so special about it. But when he takes it for a spin, he unlocks the magic that will help save the zoo.

Barbara: This sounds like the kind of story that would definitely hook a middle grade reader. 

Please provide a favorite excerpt from your book.

Andy’s knees wobbled and buckled as he stumbled off the carousel’s platform. He thrust forward, collapsing into a heap on the ground. Shaking his head a few times, he flinched when a snort escaped his mouth. 
A flash of turquoise caught his eye. He scrambled up as a skinny-necked bird with short legs and a long, plump body strutted over. It stopped a few inches away and let out an ear-splitting squawk. Only a peacock could make that sound.
“What are you doing over here?” the bird asked. “Are you out of your mind? Don’t you know this is the kind of thing that gets all of us into trouble?” 
Andy froze. He was sure the peacock had just spoken to him.
“Well, don’t just sit there, zebra, we need to get you back to the pen,” the bird snapped.
Andy whipped his head from side to side. Nobody was around, and he didn’t see a zebra.
“Did you just talk?” 
"Don't get all high and mighty on me," the peacock said. "It's socially acceptable for a peacock to speak to a zebra."
"Why do you keep calling me a zebra?" Andy narrowed his eyes at the bird.
“Well, I don’t see any other escaped animal standing in front of me,” the peacock said. Andy lowered his gaze and saw four black and white striped legs beneath him. He craned his neck and saw a thin, black tail swishing behind him. Puzzled, he glanced at the carousel and saw an empty brass pole where the zebra had been.
He stumbled backward. "No, no, no,” he said, shaking his head. "How…it can’t be,” he breathed.

 “There’s just no way. I…I…I’m a zebra!”

Barbara: I'm loving this excerpt and now have another book to put on my TBR list. It's bulging from all the great books I have found to read!!! I know a lot of kids who would love this book!!! The dynamics of becoming an animal and having to live in an animal world are very intriguing!! Good luck with it.

Author Bio:

Kathy Sattem Rygg is Editor-in-Chief for the children’s online magazine Knowonder!, and an active member of SCBWI. She earned a degree in magazine journalism from Iowa State University and has worked for the McGraw-Hill Companies’ business publications division in New York City. She was also the editor in chief of Women’s Edition magazine in Denver, CO. She currently lives in Omaha, NE, with her husband and two children. 

Where can readers find you and your book?

ANIMAL ANDY is available as an ebook from Muse It Up Publishing and the print version is available on Amazon.

View the ANIMAL ANDY book trailer!

You can follow me online at: 
Facebook: KSR Writer
Twitter: @kathyrygg
Goodreads: Kathy Sattem Rygg

Now here's a surprise! Anyone who leaves a comment will have a chance to win a free copy of Animal Andy!! 

Until the next time my next guest author will be Katie Carroll another Muse author. 

I also want to let you know that a good friend of mine, Donna Marie Merritt is going to be reading her poetry in Mystic, CT on September 10th at the RiverWalk Restaurant from 7:00PM to 9:00PM. Anyone who is close to here come on over!! I'll be there with my daughter. Listening to Donna read her poetry is a real treat and there will be music as well. For more information go to: Poetry and Music on Facebook.

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