Friday, May 27, 2011

Joy and Inspiration

One of the great things about being an author is to get the reactions from people who read your work. Little Chloe is reading my nursery rhyme, First Spring. Her grandmother, Maeve, won the book in a contest I participated in to support St. Jude's Children's Hospital. It gives me a lot of pleasure to be able to autograph books and sometimes meet the people who've gotten them.

Last weekend, I was at a baby shower for my niece, Sara. In addition to being my niece, she's also my god-daughter and this is the first time I'll be a great-aunt. When she read the cover, it took her a second to connect the author name to me and I totally loved the expression on her face when she did. It was such a nice moment that I will cherish for a very long time...well, maybe until I get to read the book to her child. Now that will be something.

Spring has been a nasty mess of cold weather and storms here. Not nearly as bad as some of our neighbors to the south, but we haven't come out of it unscathed. A dumpster will arrive in our yard on Tuesday and they'll replace our roof for the third time in nearly as many years. A broken window and all our deck railings wait to be hauled away too.

Despite the destruction and my impatience with Mother Nature, I found some inspiration between the rain drops. I've begun writing a new rhyme about going barefoot. When I was a child, if there wasn't snow on the ground, we had no shoes on our feet. My mother didn't like us out barefoot breaking skim ice on mud puddles. And I remember many first days of school, struggling to keep my socks and shoes on, but that didn't stop us very often. The rhyme is still pretty rough in some spots, but I hope to make it behave this weekend. And maybe in the coming months I'll be able to tell you it'll be published.

I hope you have a great Memorial Day holiday weekend. Remember to thank a vet and pray for soldiers and their families.

Until the next time,
Margaret Rose

Monday, May 16, 2011

Summer Reading for Young Reluctant Readers-Kai Strand

Some people feel you aren’t truly reading unless you can smell the ink on paper or hear the crack of the spine when you fold open the book. But let’s face it, reading needs to come with a warning, “Results May Vary.”

Are you raising a reluctant reader? Do they groan when you remind them they need to do their 20 minutes of reading homework? Are you already lamenting the arguments you will have during the summer just to keep their newly acquired reading skills from rusting like the Tin Man is a summer downpour? Never fear, hope is here. This summer, try a new approach to reading.

Take your child and one of his friends downtown. Ask them to take turns reading the signs, the shop names, the brochures taped in storefront windows as you wander. Be sure to end at the candy shop where you can reward them with a scoop of ice cream after they’ve read all the different kinds available to choose from.

Does your child love the computer? Let them play on sites like Guardian Angel Kids an inter-active online magazine. In order to play, they will have to read the instructions!

Speaking of computers, Be There Bedtime Stories is a webcam storytelling site that allows you to record yourself (or a grandparent, aunt or uncle) reading a book, then your child can read along on screen as they listen. There are so many titles to choose from, you are certain to find one your child will love to read again and again.

Books on CD make a perfectly acceptable substitution to reading the paperbound version of a book. Listening to a book on CD models good reading skills for your child. Exposes them to new words, within the proper context, in turn broadening their vocabulary.

The love of reading doesn’t always develop the same in our children as it did in us. Yet, if you approach reading with a creative eye, you will often find the type of reading your child enjoys. In the end, you are helping your child to develop a skill they will need and use throughout life. Instead of curling up with a good book, they may plug in headphones and listen to it on their IPod or curl up opposite you with their eReader, but you can rest assured that they will have learned to love the written word as much as you, because you were willing to let them come at it from a different direction.

Happy reading!

Kai's debut book is The Weaver. This is the synopsis:

In a town of word weavers, Mary suffers through her third year of Novice Word Weaving. Mary thinks her troubles are over when she meets a gnome-elf who grants her a wish. But instead of weaving a better story, she's weaving strange yarn charms to accompany her still pathetic tales.

It's getting great reviews! Get your copy of The Weaver here.

About Kai:

Kai Strand is a children's author of middle grade and young adult novels. She was born and raised in the Midwest, where she inherited a wholesome outlook on life. She lived in California long enough to become a (very lucky) wife and the mother of four amazing kids. They now live in Central Oregon where the most common sound in her household is laughter. The second most common is, "Do your dishes!"

Obviously, Kai likes to write. The Weaver is Kai’s debut book. She reads a lot as well and calls it research. Kai loves to garden, and is trying out a greenhouse for the first time this year. She loves to sing. You might find her singing in Latin while browsing at Target. Most of the time she isn’t aware she’s singing aloud. She and her family love to hike and geocache. Kai walks 45 miles a month for exercise.

You can visit Kai online at or at her blog, Strands of Thought,

Thank you for visiting with us today, Kai. I wish you great success on your book tour and with The Weaver. I have a reluctant reader at our house and these tips do help a lot.

Until the next time,

Margaret Rose

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

If you don't...

I submitted First Spring to the Boston Globe's Horn Book Awards today. It cost me an arm and a leg to get the books there by overnight mail since I didn't learn about the contest until yesterday. The awards have been handed out since 1967 for excellence in children and young adult literature.

Do I have more than a snowball's chance in hell to win? Who knows, but as the old saying goes, you'll never know if you don't try.

When it comes to writing, I think that's one thing I've learned over the past 10 years. My fear of writing about things I didn't know or understand had to take a back seat when I was forced into writing magazine features. Over time, I got in my groove and really, really enjoyed it.

Time on my hands forced me to try fan fiction. The ball started rolling and turned into novels.One novel has turned into eight in three years. In many ways, I'm glad I didn't know all about the requirements for being a published author before I tried it. I'm pretty sure I'd have been so overwhelmed with the information, I'd have believed that college prof who said I was too lazy to be a good fiction writer.

To be perfectly honest, I submitted First Spring for publication because I figured I had nothing to loose. And look how it turned out? I have a great little nursery rhyme out - with Lynda and Mariana's wonderful help.

In essence, our fears hold us back. Live boldly. Failure teaches us how to succeed in the future. Will I win one of these coveted awards? Don't know. It would be darn cool. At least I tried.

What have you dared to do lately? I'd love to hear your story.

Until the next time.
Margaret Rose