Why Should Authors Invest in School Visits?

An Author Interview with Marci Seither, Kathy Boyd Fellure, and Jeanette Hanscome

Authors are encouraged to know their target audience and connect with the readers who will be buying their books. These tasks become a little more complicated for the writers of children’s books. Their readers may not be able to buy their books, or attend the industry standard book launches or signings.

Marci Seither, Kathy Boyd Fellure, and Jeanette Hanscome are three authors who understand the need to reach their young audiences in creative ways.

This year, they’ll be putting their books right into the little hands of their readers by participating in an Author Day at a local elementary school.

Marci Seither, the organizer of this fun event, has written hundreds of articles for local and national publications, including Guideposts magazine. She is also the author of The Adventures of Pearly Monroe (2014), Empty Nest: Strategies to Help Your Kids Take Flight (2014) and Pumper John

.Marci Seither - Author Photo by Ocean - June 2014     Marci Seither - Book Cover - Pearley Monroe

Inspire Member Spotlight: Jenny Lundquist

How long have you been a member of Inspire Christian Writers?

I’ve been a member for several years.

What prompted you to join Inspire?

I first began attending Inspire several years ago when there was only one group meeting at Warehouse Christian church. But my younger son was still a baby and not sleeping through the night, and by the time the critique group started (it was held at night) I felt too exhausted to really engage. So I dropped out.

Then a few years ago, I woke up one morning and really felt like I should pray for God to bring more writer friends into my life. After I finished, I checked my email and saw a message from Beth Thompson that a daytime group was opening up in El Dorado Hills and would provide childcare. My son was in preschool by this time, so for me the Inspire group was a direct answer to prayer.

When did you first know you were a writer?

I don’t know that I had an “ah-hah” moment when I realized that, yes, I am a writer. It’s taken me a while to be able to claim the title of writer. But I did have a moment when I was at a birthday dinner for a friend and someone gave her a journal. Something in me just “clicked” that night, and I remembered how much I liked to write as a child. Soon after I started writing, and I haven’t stopped.

Describe your writing career high point and low point.

The low point was finishing my first novel and realizing that, although it was decent first try, it wasn’t good enough for publication. The high point? Getting the email from my agent that Seeing Cinderella had sold, definitely. It’s hard to describe how incredible that felt.

Which of your stories is closest to your heart?

That’s sort of like asking me which of my sons is my favorite. I love each story uniquely. My first novel occupies a special place in my heart solely because it was my first try. Seeing Cinderella means so much to me in terms of the storytelling, and I love my third novel, Plastic Polly, just as much as the first two.

Describe receiving your first book contract.

Exciting, confusing, overwhelming, and thrilling. It was—and continues to be—an emotional roller coaster. But one I’m so incredibly thankful to be on.

What project of yours is gathering dust?

My first novel is gathering dust. It’s been condemned to the dusty recesses of my hard drive. Someday I may want to pull it out and try to rewrite it, but for now it’s moldering away in manuscript purgatory.

What’s next for you?

I just finished revisions on my second novel, Plastic Polly. It’s about a girl who’s the second most popular girl in her middle school. Many of her classmates call her Plastic Polly behind her back. It’s inspired, in part, by a phrase I heard a lot growing up, which is, “She’s so fake.”

That statement has always intrigued me, because what does that even mean? To an extent, we all wear masks, and yet we’re all authentically who we are, and so I wanted to write a book from the perspective of the girl many people didn’t like in middle school.

But, I also need a lot of fun in my projects, so Polly ends up having to coordinate a talent show competition between her middle school and their rival school. She finds out that only the popular kids (as opposed to the most talented kids) are being selected to participate in the competition, and she has to decide what she’s going to do about it.

What does it mean to you to be a writer?

So much. My favorite verse in the Bible is Ephesians 2:10 which is, “For we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.”

When I finish one project, I’m always asking God, what is the next “good work” He has for me? Right now, He has me writing mainstream middle grade novels, and I’m excited to see where He’ll take me—and take all of the Inspire writers—in the years to come.

Was there a book that changed your life?

The Harry Potter series had a huge impact on me. I read J.K. Rowling’s work and I’m mesmerized by her ability to develop a world so completely. She makes me want to be a better writer.

What is the best writing advice you have ever received?

The best writing advice I ever received came from Laura Jensen Walker who told me I should, “Make my writing fit around my life, not the other way around.”

I feel really grateful to have had the opportunity to learn from such an established author. And as I navigate through launching Seeing Cinderella this month, finishing revisions on a second book, and drafting a third, I realize how true her words are.

I’m really lucky to be where I am, but my family has to be first, and writing has to be second. Some days that’s hard to remember with all the deadlines and “to do” lists on my desk, but I’m trying.

You can connect with Jenny at her website.

Mark your calendar for:

Seeing Cinderella Book Launch Party
March 31, 2012 1-3pm (Saturday)
Barnes & Noble
6111 Sunrise Blvd
Citrus Heights CA 95610
RSVP on Facebook if you want

The Prisoner of Carrot Castle Now Available!

The Prisoner of Carrot Castle is now available for the iPad on the App Store for only $2.99.

Grab your cape and join the fun! Aiden is just an ordinary kid—loves costume play, watching clouds pass by, seeing castles in the sky… and he doesn’t like vegetables.

In The Prisoner of Carrot Castle Aiden’s imagination transports him to a far away place where he finds himself a prisoner in a cell made of carrots. What will he do? Must he face the angry King? Will his hate for vegetables get him in trouble? Come along and help Aiden as he tries to escape from Carrot Castle.

When Aiden gets stuck, kids play a role in helping him move ahead in his adventure. The story comes alive as the text is read. Find silly animations and sound effects as the action unfolds.

Through creative storytelling, kids learn that eating vegetables is good—it can actually help them.

The Prisoner of Carrot Castle is an original story written and illustrated for the iPad. Targeted for kids 3 to 8-years-old, the story’s interaction and games help them develop fine motor skills.

Download your copy of The Prisoner of Carrot Castle, please tell your friends, rate it and write a review.

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Chris Pedersen and her husband live with a chocolate lab named Brandy in the beautiful Sierra foothills in California. Chris writes for children and loves crafting nonfiction stories from real life. The Prisoner of Carrot Castle is her first iPad app. Her other work in process is a chapter book titled How I Survived Third Grade.

Published work includes Work and Wag, about dog jobs, in Clubhouse Jr. Magazine and A Saving Transformation, in THE DOG NEXT DOOR published by Revell. In addition, since conquering cancer with diet, Chris blogs about health, her heart passion, at Healthy Journey Café where she dishes out recipes and tips to achieve optimum wellness. Her writing journey is chronicled at Paws and Ponder.

 Editor’s note: Here’s your chance to help a fellow writer with a product launch. Let’s help Chris get the word out. Use your Facebook, Twitter, Google+ and blogs to let people know this app is now available.

From Picture Book to iPad App: Step 9

You might be thinking by now that the steps to developing an iPad app never end. Well… it sometimes feels like that to us too. Since none of us have ever done an iPad app before, there’s been a roller coaster learning curve and unforeseen setbacks in the schedule. Each of us on the team (Kate, Nur and myself) moved. Kate moved completely across the country last summer and I moved over Christmas.

Step Nine:

A. Beta Test
Now we’re back on track and actually in beta. For those who think I’m referring to a vitamin, a beta test is when your product moves (look at that.. even the app moved) from in-house testing to actual user testing. I have volunteers with young children using the app to see if they encounter bugs or any speed/performance issues needing to be addressed before we go to launch.

Preliminary input from our testers look good on the bug front—no crashes or obvious errors. I few tweaks have been suggested to make the user experience more satisfying.

B. Fix and Upload to App Store
Based on input from our beta testers, we’ll fix any problems that came up, adjust a few details in the presentation and tweak a few activities (I have a list). Then we upload it to the App Store for approval and launch.

C. Tell the World
Then I get to work contacting reviewers, telling everyone on Twitter, Facebook and Google+, notifying  newspapers, magazines, radio stations, and alerting my writer’s network to spread the word to their contacts and on their blogs.

You can help by going to Purple Carrot Books and signing up to get an email when the launch happens.

Do you have experience at spreading the word about a good product?

What’s your best technique to get something out there for the “world” to know about?

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Chris Pedersen and her husband live with a chocolate lab named Brandy in the beautiful Sierra foothills in California. Chris writes for children and loves crafting nonfiction stories from real life. The Prisoner of Carrot Castle is her first iPad app. Her other work in process is a chapter book titled How I Survived Third Grade.

Published work includes Work and Wag, about dog jobs, in Clubhouse Jr. Magazine and A Saving Transformation, in THE DOG NEXT DOOR published by Revell. In addition, since conquering cancer with diet, Chris blogs about health, her heart passion, at Healthy Journey Café where she dishes out recipes and tips to achieve optimum wellness. Her writing journey is chronicled at Paws and Ponder.

From Picture Book to iPad App: Step 8

Yikes, we have been busy! Kate has been cranking out the final scenes and animation pieces. Nur has been coding like a mad man. I’ve been tweeting, facebooking, Google+ing, writing press releases, working to set up the website for Purple Carrot Books…blah, blah, blah. Are we there yet?

Step Eight:
A. Run to the Finish
We are technically in alpha test phase. Nur has been sending regular app builds and we have been putting it to the test trying to break it or find issues that need tweaking. Of course passing it off to our 4-year-old mini-app-testers is part of that too.

Not much else to say here except this is when it gets pretty exciting. We begin to see all our hard work coming to fruition as the app comes alive with all its fun animations and interactions. It puts a smile on our faces.

B. Get the Word Out
As with all products, it may be the greatest, but if no one knows about it, how can they buy it?

I’ve subscribed to HARO (Help A Reporter Out) to receive requests for queries from reporters needing qualified input for articles being developed. I’ve done one interview with Alice Walton, associate editor for TheDoctorWillSeeYouNow.com. She was fascinated by my story of beating genetic cancer with my diet. You can read more about my journey at www.healthyjourneycafe.com.

The Purple Carrot Books website is live. Go to www.purplecarrotbooks.com. Watch the book trailer and sign up to get email alerts when The Prisoner of Carrot Castle is launched in the App Store.

You can help spread the word by sharing purplecarrotbooks.com on Facebook and Twitter. At purplecarrotbooks.com go to the orange box below the book trailer and select Facebook and Twitter to share the website on your Facebook and Twitter feed.

Also, please go to the Purple Carrot Books Facebook fan page and LIKE it to get regular updates. And please tell your friends and family about The Prisoner of Carrot Castle iPad app coming soon. Published by Purple Carrot Books.

Follow @prplcarrotbooks on Twitter to get news about the launch and watch for and tweet #CarrotCastle.

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Chris Pedersen and her husband live with a chocolate lab named Brandy in the beautiful Sierra foothills in California. Chris writes for children and loves crafting nonfiction stories from real life. The Prisoner of Carrot Castle is her first iPad app. Her other work in process is a chapter book titled How I Survived Third Grade.

Published work includes Work and Wag, about dog jobs, in Clubhouse Jr. Magazine and A Saving Transformation, in THE DOG NEXT DOOR published by Revell. In addition, since conquering cancer with diet, Chris blogs about health, her heart passion, at Healthy Journey Café where she dishes out recipes and tips to achieve optimum wellness. Her writing journey is chronicled at Paws and Ponder.

Inspire Member Spotlight: Chris Pedersen

How long have you been a member of Inspire?

I’ve been attached to Inspire since Mount Hermon 2009 Christian Writers Conference, when I hooked up with Beth Thompson and a few other Inspire members. I was impressed with the servant’s heart that Beth and the group exhibited. At Mount Hermon, Inspire volunteered to help out with speaker support, bringing water and other needed/requested items to each speaker throughout the conference.

What prompted you to join Inspire?

Needing help with my writing, I was actively seeking a local group to join. I tried several groups. Once I attended my first Inspire Critique group meeting in Sacramento, I knew I found the place for me. I took full advantage of the various groups meeting throughout the region, submitting my manuscripts to several when I had publisher submission deadlines approaching.

Was there a particular moment when you knew you were a writer?

I first became a writer from a technical perspective, writing technical material, manuals and magazine articles. I knew I truly was a writer when clients began to pay me for my writing.

Describe your writing career high point and low point.

My high point occurred when I heard from an editor that my first-person, nonfiction piece was accepted for inclusion into a collection of stories about dogs. I celebrated by doing the “Snoopy Dance” on top of the Eiffel Tower in Paris.
No real low point. But I could say it was a hard reality when I heard from an editor that I needed to completely rewrite and retell a picture book I wrote that meant a lot to me.

Describe your most memorable interview.

Recently, I was interviewed by Richard Knox for a health segment on National Public Radio’s Morning Edition. The set-up to record over the phone (he in Boston and me in California) required that I hold a recording device to my mouth with one hand while I spoke to him on the phone using my other hand. Get the picture? Two devices held to each side of my face.
Although not feeling nervous, as soon as the interview started I began to sweat profusely. Drips of sweat dribbled down my arms. The crease of my bent elbows accumulated enough moisture to feed a river’s headwater. Was I sitting in a sauna? I mustered a mental focus, but physically I was uncomfortable. I shook off a wistful glance at the motionless ceiling fan above, knowing I had no hands to change the conditions during the 28-minute interview.
Note to self: Make sure the room is adequately cooled down before the next interview.

Which of your stories is the closest to your heart?

Closest to my heart is The Tale of Chessie, a story involving a dog whose special disposition created a picture of God’s character to a young boy. It’s based on my experience with one special dog in my life that showed a rare unconditional love and attentiveness even while she endured a painful accident.

That story is currently sitting on the proverbial shelf.

What did you do when you received your first acceptance or publication?

When I heard from an editor that my first-person, nonfiction piece was accepted for inclusion in a collection of stories about dogs, I told everyone who would listen to me. I celebrated by doing the “Snoopy Dance” on top of the Eiffel Tower in Paris that spring.

What project of yours is gathering dust?

The Tail of Chessie

What’s next for you?

After my team and I finish and launch the iPad children’s app, The Prisoner of Carrot Castle, I will concentrate on completing my WIP, a chapter book for children titled How I Survived Third Grade. Since digital publishing is my current direction, perhaps I’ll publish that book as an ebook.

What have you read recently that you couldn’t put down?

I’ve racked my brain trying to remember the last book I read. I usually give books away once I’ve read them and it’s been eleven months since I read it. Yikes! It must not have been very memorable, but I’ll use the excuse I have a ridiculous schedule writing for two personal blogs, plus contributing to this blog, managing a team developing an iPad app, and taking time to prepare healthy meals for my husband and me.

What does it mean to you to be a writer?

As a writer I feel privileged to be able to impart stories and information in a friendly, readable form to an audience that will take what I write, embrace it, allow it to move their hearts and souls and put it to use. I believe God equips me as a writer do this for His glory.

Was there a book that changed your life?

The Shack by Paul Young changed my life. It ministered to me during a time of serious grieving. I just found out I had cancer, the result of a gene defect I was discovered to have. Young’s book helped me rest in God’s providence for my life and remain expectant to his presence and direction for my future.

To learn more about Chris Pedersen and her writing projects, visit these sites.