Friday, January 31, 2014

Interview Friday with Iain Reading, author of Kitty Hawk series

About Iain Reading
Iain Reading is passionate about Root Beer, music, and writing. He is Canadian, but currently resides in the Netherlands working for the United Nations. Iain is currently working on the fourth book in the Kitty Hawk Flying Detective Agency Series, which will be released in 2014. For more information, go to

VS: I want to thank you for being my guest here on The Writing Mama today.  Iain, How long have you been writing?

Iain: I have been writing for just over a year now, although I now realize that I wish I'd started with it long ago.

VS: What inspired you to write your book (if this is a personal story about you, please share about the decision to open up about your life)?

Iain: The inspiration for writing my book comes entirely from the main character herself - Kitty Hawk.  The idea of a female teenaged seaplane pilot who wants to fly around the world just seemed so perfectly inspiring to me that I couldn't help but want to bring her to life by writing it.

VS: What is a typical writing day like for you?

Iain: A typical writing day always begins with some kind of exercise in focussing my thoughts and having a clear idea of what I want to accomplish and where things are going.  Not in too much detail, of course, but just enough to be clear about things.  This is usually accomplished by taking a walk alone and just sorting out my thoughts and writing the next chapter in my head, more or less.

VS: What did you find to be the most challenging part of writing your book(s)?

Iain: Finding the "voice" of the characters in the book and even of the entire book itself is what I find challenging.  Unfortunately, it seems to me that finding this is something that you only find once you are already well into writing the book (which either means going back and redoing the first parts you already wrote or just living with it).  And I guess this is what I find the most liberating about writing a series of books - the fact that I already have found the book's "voice" and can start in with it from day one and page one.

VS: What part of your book do you feel really stands out to you personally?

Iain: Something I really love about this book (Kitty Hawk and the Curse of the Yukon Gold) is how it feels when it really gets going.  It sort of slowly creeps up on the tipping point to the main rollercoaster of action, but when it gets there it has this really lovely feeling to it, racing from one thing to the next like a string of firecrackers.  Some of the firecrackers are even quite obvious when you look back on them, like clichéd elements that every good book about Alaska and the Yukon needs to have, but to me they never feel cliché because you're being carried along in the story like a glacial river in flood.

VS: If this is a work of fiction, what character is most like you?

Iain: I suppose they all are, in their own small way.  The conventional wisdom is that writers should "write what they know" and from that you'd assume that writers make all characters a bit like themselves because that's what they know.  But maybe in making each character just a little bit like myself I am doing the opposite... writing to know myself better instead of writing WHAT I know already.

VS: Do you have any other works in progress? Can you share a little about them?

Iain: Right now I am working on a new series of books about a guild of wizards living in the modern world.  It's something completely different from the Kitty Hawk series (which I will return to, of course - I won't leave her out there until she's finished her flight around the world) and I was just very curious what it would be like if I wrote a book (or two or three or five) in the over-crowded fantasy genre.  So we'll see how that turns out.

VS: What do you think are the basic ingredients of a good book?

Iain: Aside from what are the standard things (characters, plot, etc) I think what is important thing is to create a world that draws people into it.  I would love to be able to say that I wrote a book where people felt like they were living the story instead of just reading about it.  

VS: What is required for a character to be believable? How do you create yours?

Iain: Lately I am thinking a lot about believable characters.  Specifically about how much depth they have on the written page.  This stems from my concern about having two-dimensional (or god forbid even ONE-dimensional) characters too often in my writing.  Some of them are, I know, but I am okay with that.  But how does one ensure that the characters that they really need to have depth are truly three-dimensional and believable?  I suppose the way to accomplish that is to make sure that those characters actually DO have depth, at least in your own head as the writer.  Every character in life or books always has a backstory and motivations, right?  You don't always know what it is - in fact, you almost never really do know - but it's always there whether you know it or not.  So as a writer maybe the secret is to know all that stuff yourself, even if you never put it down on the page.  If you know yourself what their backstory is and what their motivations
are, then the action and dialogue that you actually do write might then be believable and three-dimensional.  I hope?

VS: Where can the readers of The Writing Mama find out more about and your writing?

Iain: Fans of the Kitty Hawk series can always check in with to see the latest state of all things Kitty Hawk.  And anyone interested in the music side of things can also check out my music website at as well.

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Why is good children's literature so powerful, so magical?

Tim Myers is a writer, songwriter, storyteller, and university lecturer in English.

His Glad to Be Dad:  A Call to Fatherhood (Familius) is in both e-book and print form; it was featured on Parents Magazine’s website, Disney’s BabyZone, and won the Ben Franklin Digital Award.  His full-length Dear Beast Loveliness:  Poems of the Body (BlazeVox) earned an excellent review from poet Grace Cavalieri.  He's placed numerous pieces in top children's magazines (Cricket, AppleSeeds, Storyworks, New Moon), and has 11 children's books out (and three in press), which have won a number of awards and honors.  These include excellent reviews from Kirkus, SLJ, Booklist, and The New York Times, a short stint on The New York Times bestseller list for children's books, and adaptations of his works for drama and dance; in addition, Basho and the Fox was read aloud on NPR and Basho and the River Stones was one of three nominees for a California Young Readers medal.  Tim won the 2012 SCBWI Magazine Merit Award for Fiction.  He's also published a great deal of other fiction, nonfiction, and poetry.  He's placed over 120 poems (Rattle, Northeast, South Carolina Review, Southern Humanities Review, national anthologies), once won a national poetry contest judged by John Updike, and has a chapbook out from Pecan Grove Press, That Mass at Which the Tongue Is Celebrant.  He’s been nominated for two Pushcart Prizes.  As a fantasy/science fiction writer, he won a prize in the Writers of the Future Contest, and his work has appeared in Realms of Fantasy, Worlds of Fantasy and Horror, Space & Time, Weird Tales, Abyss & Apex, Futures Mysterious, on the Astropoetica website, and elsewhere. 
Tim spent 14 years as a classroom teacher in the States and overseas (Norway, London, Tokyo), has 20 years of university experience, and has been a professional storyteller for over 25 years.
His wife, Dr. M. Priscilla Myers, a reading specialist, teaches at Silicon Valley's Santa Clara University (where Tim also teaches), his older son is a professor at CU in Boulder, his younger has a Masters in Literature and is currently fighting forest fires, and his daughter is a book-gluttonous comparative lit. graduate from the University of California at Berkeley.
None of this, however, is nearly as noteworthy to most people as finding out that Tim is the oldest of eleven children.

Tim in this YouTube interview shares how can the complexities and force of great language and art be presented to young readers.  How do we best use the master-power of Story itself to enrich not only the lives of children but our whole culture as well.
 "The Better Part"--it's on YouTube here:

Monday, January 27, 2014

The Writing Mama Show with Guest Author Christy E. Bykowski

Come join host Virginia S Grenier on BTR’s Featured World of Ink Network Monday January 27th at 2pm Eastern - 1pm Central - 12noon Moutain - 11am Pacific

The topic this Monday on The Writing Mama Show - Gluten Free Kids.

This week come meet author Christy E. Bykowski and learn about her kid friendly celiac disease awareness picture book, Gluten-Free Me: Beckmin Goes to School January 2014. “Beckmin Goes to School” is Bykowski’s first children’s book and was inspired by her middle son Beckmin, who was diagnosed with celiac disease at 18 months, after extensive sickness and a series of hospital visits. Since then, Christy has worked with Beckmin through the everyday challenges of being a kid with this disease, dealing with his frustrations and his own learning curve as to what celiac disease is, how to explain it and what it means in his day-to-day life. Beckmin’s stories, written to help children define, understand and explain celiac disease, are meant to be both empowering and educational for kids and their parents.

You can find out more about Christy E. Bykowski, her book and World of Ink Author/Book Tour at

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Blog Talk Radio's The Writing Mama Show with Guest Author Christy E. Bykowski - Gluten Free Me: Celic Kids on the Featured WorldOfInkNetwork | Books Podcasts

Friday, January 24, 2014

Interview Friday with Children's Author Alicia Lloyd

Alicia Lloyd is a senior at West Chester University of Pennsylvania and is working towards her Bachelor’s Degree in Early Grades Preparation (PK-4) and Special Education. She has a strong passion for working with children and loves to write! Alicia lives in Oxford, Pennsylvania surrounded by her wonderful friends and family. 

VS: Thank you Alicia for being here today. Can you tell us about your current book. Give a short summary. You can follow this up with any points you hope readers will take away with them.

Alicia: This book is a friendly way for children to ease their bedtime fears. All children at one point in their lives hear unfamiliar and scary noises while trying to drift off into sleep. As soon as they get scared, they start thinking of all these scary things that can happen. The main message is just to remember that noises can just be familiar noises, like in this case, your mom going to bed. Being afraid of monsters is common however; I am hoping my book sends the message to never be afraid of them.

VS: Can you tell us about your publisher and how the process works?

Alicia: Lisa Umina is the CEO of Halo Publishing. Since I am 22 years old, I don’t know anyone who has ever published a book before. Lisa was extremely helpful. She knew I was nervous and she made me feel comfortable asking questions to seek how the process works. The process was easier than I originally imagined and I got to be 100% involved with my book. She told me, “I am in the passenger seat and you are the driver,” this made me feel comfortable with what I was about to get into. I thought this process would be stressful and out of my reach but Lisa proved me wrong. She is awesome to work with!

VS: How did you get the idea for this book?

Alicia: My idea was unique and unexpected. I was sleeping at a new place one night and at the age of 22, still afraid of monsters. I heard all of these weird and unfamiliar noises around the house. I was texting my boyfriend, Chris, saying, “I don’t like this! I’m hearing too many noises, I can’t fall asleep.” He then texted me back asking if I ever did fall back asleep. My response was, “eventually, when the monsters were quiet.” Right there I thought, “That would be an awesome title for a children’s book!” The next weekend at 3am I suddenly woke up, went to my phone, opened notepad, and wrote the last two lines and the first three of my book. The next day Chris and I were driving and he was singing Selena Gomez’s song, “Come Get It,” extremely loud and obnoxious. (I find it funny with him being 6’5 singing this song.) Somehow, I finished my book right next to him in the car.

VS: What is a typical writing day like for you?

Alicia: I always loved to write. However, I only write when inspiration hits, when I need to vent, or just feel like writing. I write constantly for homework assignments and projects for school, so usually, that is when I write the most.

VS: What do you enjoy most about writing?

Alicia: I enjoy writing because you have the time to think exactly what you want to say. For me, expressing my thoughts and feelings is so much easier writing it down on paper than speaking. I use writing as a study tool as well. I have to write to remember any new information or it all goes in one ear and out the other! I also love writing because to get your ideas down- it can be a mess sometimes. My hand has to try to keep up with the speed of what I am thinking…then I organize it.

VS: What is the most difficult part of writing?

Alicia: When you write so much at one period of time, you come to a complete block. It gets frustrating sometimes. It is so much easier to sometimes walk away, take a breather, and return later. I find this happening a lot with the second book I am trying to write. If I force writing, it will never work. It won’t give me that feeling that I love to feel when I know I wrote something good.  

VS: How has publishing a book changed your life?

Alicia: I needed this change in my life. I feel like for the last five years I have been doing the same routine over and over again with college and work. I absolutely love it. I am not used to hearing I am an author, and definitely not used to people asking me to sign their books or “autograph” them. It takes me by surprise how many interviews and how many people who want to talk to me. It’s definitely going to take some getting used too.

VS: What are your plans now?

Alicia: My plans now are to finish my education and continue writing. I had a dream about three months ago where my book was published but it exactly wasn’t my book. “This isn’t my book! This isn’t mine!” I exclaim in my dream. Then an unfamiliar voice told me, “No, Alicia, this is your book. It is your second one.” It was a Christmas book. So just like I did with When the Monsters are Quiet, I got up and wrote down some lines. I am currently working on that one, but I wait for inspiration to strike.

VS: What is your best tip for aspiring authors?

Alicia: My best tip is- Please, just do it! Being a new author, I have had the best opportunity to talk to new people. I have heard so many times how people want to get their unsaid words on paper but doubt themselves. I always encourage them just to write something. “No one wants to hear about my problems and that’s the only thing I would write about,” they say. What is ironic though is that people do want to hear about problems, because a lot of people are going through the same things you are or already accomplished. You can always change perspectives. Write your experiences through a character. Writing is a beautiful freedom. It is what is on the inside and no one can tell you that you are wrong.

VS: Is there anything else you would like to share with our readership? Here you can share about characters, historical facts, setting or whatever else you would like our readers to know about your book.

Alicia: The main character in my book resembles my little brother, Zach, and he is the first dedication on my dedication page. I hope that he knows any dream of his can come true if he works hard at it. I sign every single one of my books, “Never be afraid of your Monsters!” because I really hope he never lets anything that fears him stand in the way of his determination to success.  My brother and I are nine years apart and he is my whole entire world. I am so happy that I had the freedom to explain his characteristics at a young age and that Amy Rottinger, illustrator, made it all come to life so beautifully. I love the fact that there is an emotional piece that will forever be in my book.

VS: Do you have a website? If so, please give the URL. If not, where can readers go online to learn more about your book(s) and to order?
To Order:
Also available for Kindle and Nook and it is available in 40,000 databases in over 100 countries.
Facebook: When the Monsters are Quiet- by Alicia Lloyd-, contact me on Facebook for a signed copy!
You can find out more about Alicia Lloyd, her book and World of Ink Author/Book Tour at

Follow Alicia Lloyd on Facebook at

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