Thursday, June 30, 2011

Interview with Margot Finke

Margot Finke is an Aussie transplant who writes midgrade adventure fiction and rhyming picture books. For many years she has lived in Oregon with her husband and family. Gardening, travel, and reading fill in the cracks between writing. Her husband is very supportive, and their three children are now grown and doing very well.

Margot didn't begin serious writing until the day their youngest left for college. This late start drives her writing, and pushes her to work at it every day. Margot said, "I really envy those who began young, and managed to slip into writing mode between kid fights, diaper changes, household disasters, and outside jobs. You are my heroes!"

 Her first books, a 7x book rhyming series, "Wild and Wonderful," offers fun facts about animals from the US and Australia.  Educational and fun, eBooks can be read on a computer, laptop, or various color e-Readers.  They are great for classroom or home schooling moms.

Remember, kids today are computer savvy, and ALL 11 of Margot’s books (both hard copy and eBooks) can be viewed on Margot’s Magic Carpet.  The latest three are: Taconi and Claude – Double Trouble (midgrade), Horatio Humble Beats the Big D, and Ruthie and the Hippo’s Fat Behind.

Visit her  DOWN-UNDER FUN OR  WILD US CRITTERS:  Discover extra fun facts about the animals in her books. 

Her Manuscript Critique Service attracts clients from all over the globe, and her website offers a great deal of help for new writers. Nothing gives her a bigger thrill that to hear that a book she helped polish has been published.  “This is always a huge YEA moment,” Margot says.

Margot, could you tell us a little about yourself?

I came to Oregon from Australia many years ago with my American husband and our 3 kids.
We met when he migrated to Queensland, and set up a wholesale tropical fish hatchery.  I owned a pet store that also sold tropical fish, and I was his first retail customer.  The rest, as the saying goes, is history.  Seven years later we went to live in Oregon where he went to College.  He told me early on that he had plans to return to the Pacific Northwest some day.  He is a New Yorker by birth, but Oregon stole his heart.

 We live on small acreage and love it.  Kids all grown now and off doing their thing.  One of those “things” is 7 grandchildren – YEA!  I write books for kids: rhyming picture books and mid-grades. Eleven published so far. I also run a Manuscript Critique Service that draws clients from many countries. It is always a huge thrill to hear that a manuscript I helped polish has been published.  Almost a good as having one of my own books published – I did say almost!

Early on, I was lucky enough to have several talented and experienced writers take me under their wings and mentor me – bless them! And I was no overnight success.  It took enough rejection letters to paper our bathroom, and rewrites galore, before I finally made it – published at last!

Could you describe your desk/workspace?

The moment our third child headed for college, I commandeered the family room and turned it into my own writing lair.  Husband built me the desk of my dreams – drawers, shelves and places for all my “stuff.”   A comfy sofa and chairs, for those “can’t find a thing to write about days,” a fireplace for winter snuggling, and pictures of kids and grandkids.  In winter we bring in all the tender plants.  They flourish on shelves under gro-lux lights my husband set up for them. Windows offer a view of our back gardens.  Am I lucky or what? 

Do you have a favorite quote?

A manuscript is like a house.  Without a solid foundation the supports will crumble.

What are you currently reading?

A gripping tale,The Kite Runner’ by Khaled Hosseini. That man strings powerful words together, making them glow with insight and empathy.

What is the best advice you've ever received?

Have patience and stick with it. One of my early mentors told me, “All you need is to work hard, rewrite often, be patient, and stick with it. Oh, and a pinch of luck never hurt either.”

If you could have coffee with anyone (living or dead, real or fictional), who would it be and why?

It would be my dear Mum. For Mum it would have to be tea and fruitcake – the cake rich and rum soaked. She was a loving and loyal person, with a great deal of common sense, and an instinctive knowledge of people. Looking back, I realize that I never valued her advice half as much as I should have. If I had listened harder, I could have avoided a whole bunch of strife when I was younger. I now find myself offering Mum’s words of wisdom to my own children.  They just pop out of my mouth without me thinking, so they must have sunk in after all – better late than never.

I would hug her tight, and tell her I loved her. And then I would listen, and carefully hold close to my heart all the new insights she had to offer. I miss you Mum.

What are your top three favorite books and why?

The Lovely Bones – Alice Sebold
Because it touched me, and it felt so believable and real.  Sebold made me believe in Angels. It drew me in and held me fast.

The Sign of the Seahorse – Graeme Base
Because my picture books are all in rhyme, I really appreciate this writer’s rhyming craft.  He has a unique ability to build a wonderful story within the parameters of terrific rhyme and meter.

A Thousand Splendid Suns – Khaled Hosseini
This tale of beauty, loneliness and terror, dragged me to Afghanistan, and trapped me within every painful chapter.  I couldn’t tear myself away from Hosseini’s characters and what they endured.  Every paragraph was a lifeline of words that held me hostage until he was ready to let me go. Women here are all so lucky to be safe in the USA.

What was your favorite book as a child and why?

Alice in Wonderland.  All those wild and wonderful characters, and what they got up to, fed my imagination. I rooted for Alice.  I wanted to slide down the rabbit hole too.  The red Queen was awesome. I wanted my friends to be more like The Mad Hatter and that disappearing cat.  Outside of reading, I guess my childhood was pretty dreary.

What would you say is your most interesting writing quirk?

Blimey, mate, you do ask tough questions.  Not sure if this is a quirk, but I try not to waffle on.
I guess what I tell my clients sums it up quite well:  “You need to write tight and terrific – as tight as your granny’s new girdle!  Waffles are great for breakfast, but keep them out of your chapters.”

Do you write full-time or part-time?

Sort of. Now that our kids have flown the coop (excuse the cliché), I get to write whenever I fancy: with one caveat.  My husband is very supportive, and now that he has retired, he takes on a lot of extras so I can write and promote my books. But every night at I quit computing, leave my lair, and go spend the evening with him.  This time together works, because we’ve been happily married for almost 40 years.

What are your current marketing strateges for "Taconi and Claude - Double Trouble?"

Due to an eighteen month long hassle with hip and knee replacement surgery, I have been forced to do most book promotion via the computer.  Easy on the legs, but hard on the butt! Plus virtual book tours, like this one. These Tours reach out to the people who actually buy books for kids. Then there’s my two Blogs, a Website, and lots of Facebooking and Twittering as the basis of it. I also look online forlLibrarians, teachers, and blogs that cater to mothers of young children - grandmothers too.  I target local schools and libraries, newspapers and radio, with Press Releases that are tailored to suit each outlet. Then follow up with a phone call. Finding good book reviewers is also high on my list of MUST DO things.

I also wrote a fun, time-travel short story that involves characters from my latest 3 books.  The plot has them join forces to get Taconi and Claude back to the Aussie outback of the 1950’s,   where they belong, People can WIN a FREE eBook of “Taconi and Claude’s 21st Century Adventure,” during this tour.  All they have to do is leave a comment on the host Blog.  All 3 of these books come in hard copy and eBook.  But these days, a FREE kid friendly BOOK FREEBY is worth grabbing.

And it helps that I am not unknown as an author: 11 books published. All have been well received, and boast great reviews. I have many contacts within online lists, blogs, and writing lists that I can call on when needed.  Linkedin and JacketFlap are great sources to mine for information and promotional hi-tec.  People contact me these days, asking to interview me for magazines and radio.  This sort of promo reaches way beyond my local area.  I also plan on using Skype + webcam in schools and other areas, to widen my promotional range.  For those willing to push the promotional envelope, PowerPoint and the internet offer boundless opportunities. 

Could you share about any current writing projects?

At the moment I am polishing a sequel of sorts to Taconi and Claude. In this one, Bindi and Josh, the grandsons of Taconi and Boss Howard, deal with nasty sibling rivalry, an outback walkabout that could be the death of them, and a crazed old medicine man who wants Josh dead. He must eat witchetty grubs and emy eggs or starve, while Old Man Roo scares the pants off both of them.  It is only Bindi’s outback smarts, and later on the tribal Elder, who save Josh’s bones from bleaching in the outback sun. Title: Survival by Walkabout

What would be the best way for readers to contact you?

My Books – Help for Writers – Manuscript Critique Service

Margot’s Magic Carpet:
All 11 books on the one page + details and links.

HOOK Kids on Reading:
My Book Trailers, other books, writing news

Where can people find your books being featured on this tour?

*Autographed: my Website + free story

Is there anything else you'd like to share?

 I think you’re dug out every scrap of information I have.  Thanks so much for giving me this time to chat with your readers.

Leave a comment on any of the participating blogs during Margot's June Book Tour,  and win a FREE COPY of a fun time-travel story that Margot wrote especially for kids. 
NOTE: Only one copy per person.  Please leave your e-mail.  (Safe sample:  mfinke<@>

Monday, June 27, 2011

Book Spotlight - Books Written by Margot Finke

I'd like to share with you three books that have been written by author Margot Finke.  These books have all been published by Guardian Angel Publishing (         

Ruthie And The Hippo's Fat Behind

Published: Jan 2011

ISBN 13: 978-1-61633-059-0 (print book)
ISBN 13: 978-1-61633-060-6 (eBook)

Genre: Rhyming PB

* Helpful Parent/Teacher guide included

Ruthie becomes a brat when her parents move far from home.  Her parents tear their hair.  Ruthie just scowls and throws tantrums. What is the problem?  Then a wonderful surprise changes everything for the better.

Horatio Humble Beats the Big "D"

Published: March 2011

ISBN: 978-1-61633-101-6 (print book)
ISBN: 978-1-61633-102-3 (eBook)

Genre: Rhyming PB

* Helpful Parent/Teacher guide included

Horatio is a smart boy who can’t read. When he hears the word Dyslexia he refuses to try Special Ed Class.  But go he does:  and the results are amazing.

 Taconi and Claude - Double Trouble

Author's Pen Name: M. E. Finke

Published: March 2011

ISBN: 978-1-61633-130-6 (paperback)
ISBN: 978-1-61633-131-3 (eBook)

Genre: Mid-grade historical fiction

A coming of age story for a young aboriginal boy in the Aussie outback. The time is 1950, and Taconi is pulled in different directions by his dad’s problems, a scary man ceremony,The Dreamtime Spirits, and an elusive magic feather. His only mate is a chatty cockatoo with a parade of funny one-liners.  A tribal gathering finally offers answers Taconi can accept.

Margot Finke is offering a FREE short story to anyone who buys a hard copy of her book Taconi and Claude from her website

Leave a comment on any of the participating blogs during Margot's June Book Tour,  and win a FREE COPY of this fun time-travel story.  Margot wrote it especially for kids. 
NOTE: Only one copy per person.  Please leave your e-mail.  (Safe sample:  mfinke<@>

Author Website:
Help for writers + Manuscript Critique Service, my BOOK Info + how and where to purchase.

** BUY any Autographed hard cover book, and get a FREE (pdf) time-travel BONUS Book, featuring characters from my 3 latest books – Taconi, Ruthie and Horatio. 

Margot’s Magic Carpet – All 11 of Margot’s books on the one page + links to Reviews, Book Trailers, Samples, Illustrations, Teacher’s Guide and a FREE Bonus Book etc.

Margot’s Books for Kids + Writing News:

Author's Books - on the GAP Author page

Places where book(s) are available for sale:
Amazon, B&N, Powell’s Books, Fictionwise, Publisher and more.

BUY Autographed books and get a  FREE Bonus Book:

You can find out more about Margot Finke’s World of Ink Author/Book Tour schedule at . There will be giveaways, reviews, interviews, guest posts and more. Make sure to stop by and interact with Margot Finke and the hosts at the different stops by leaving comments and/or questions. Margot Finke will be checking in throughout the tour and is offering an additional giveaway for those who leave comments throughout the tour.

Friday, June 24, 2011

Ten Questions with VS Grenier

Today's interview is with VS Grenier, author of the children's picture book, Babysitting SugarPaw.

Hi, Virginia.  Could you tell us a little about yourself?

I’m a mother of three beautiful children and lucky enough to be able to stay home with them. I live in the middle of the desert of Southern Utah, however, I am from Southern California and its coastline. How I miss the beach and the mild weather the ocean brings.

 I never thought of myself as being a writer. In fact, I use to work in stores as a buyer. Now I’m an award-winning children's author, founder & owner of Stories for Children Publishing, LLC., chief editor for Halo Publishing, Int., and also, the host of the blog talk radio shows Stories for Children, SFC Magazine News and The Writing Mama

When I’m not busy talking with authors and illustrators on my radio shows, working for Stories for Children or Halo Publishing and spending time with children, then I’m busy writing new adventures in the World of Ink. 

Could you describe your desk/workspace?

Right now it’s a big mess. I have an ‘L’ shaped desk with lots of books surrounding me. I also have posters of books like “Fablehaven” written by Brandon Mull. I’m lucky to have my working space in the same room where my children gather to play and watch TV. I find I work better when they are near me.

What is the best advice you've ever received?

Don’t write how you talk or how real life is. This may be why I love Tom Clancy’s saying. Reading real dialogue (how people really speak) or how things really happen in life would bore a reader out of their mind. That’s why there are copyeditors in this world. They delete out all the unnecessary details from our story lines.

If you could have coffee with anyone (living or dead, real or fictional), who would it be and why?

Real: I would love to have a conversation with Stephen King. He has always fascinated me as a reader. There really isn’t a children’s author I can think of to chat with. I’ve met a lot of my favorites already.

What are your top three favorite books and why?

Harry Potter – I’m not really sure why. All I know is I picked the book up at a time I really need to get my mind off what was happening in my real life and it did just that. I would go to bed at night after reading and dream about walking the hall of Hogwarts.

Lord of the Rings – I love all the hidden life lessons within its pages. Tolken did a great job mixing action, a love story, adventure and friendship all into one saga. I true classic of literature.

Picking a third book is hard. There are so many I like at this point. Well I’m going to say the “Giving Tree”. I love this book and reading it to my children.

What was your favorite book as a child and why?

I don’t think I had one as a child. I really don’t remember one anyway. I hate to say it, but I don’t really remember my parents reading to me much or even having many books. I did like reading ‘twas the Night before Christmas though. I do remember that.

What would you say is your most interesting writing quirk?

I talk aloud to my characters. I don’t mean I talk about them or say what they are about to say in my story. I actually ask them questions and have conversations with them out loud. My kids think it’s funny.

What are your current marketing strategies for “Babysitting SugarPaw”?

Sharing my book with parents and places where children who are left with babysitters or maybe taking a class on becoming a babysitter. I also do a lot of marketing online like doing this World of Ink Tour.

I also talk about “Babysitting SugarPaw” when I’m out shopping or at the playground and I meet someone.

Could you share about any current writing projects?

I have two picture books I’m trying to finish up so I can send them out for review by publishers. I’ve decided to put my two novels on hold until school starts back up. With the kids home it is harder to write and focus.

I’m also going to be teaching writing to adults and children come Fall at my local state college. I’m really forward to that, so I’m busy getting all my workshop lessons in order.

Is there anything else you'd like to share?

 Keep reading and writing. If you want to write in a certain genre, make sure to read lots of books from it.

Thanks Susanne for having me today. It’s been great.

Title of Book: Babysitting SugarPaw

Author: VS Grenier

Illustrator: Kevin Collier

Publisher: Halo Publishing, Int. 

Genre: picture book, now available as an eBook

ISBN: 978-193526806-2 (softcover)

Publication Dates: July 2009 (softcover); June 2011 (eBook)

Available for purchase at:

Halo Bookstore


Autographed copies available at author's website for $10.95

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Author Spotlight - VS Grenier

VS Grenier is an award-winning children’s author, founder & owner of Stories for Children Publishing, LLC., award-winning editor-in-chief of Stories for Children Magazine and chief editor for Halo Publishing, Int.; in addition, to running her own editorial and critique services.  

In 2007 & 2008, VS Grenier was voted one of the Top Ten Editors in the Preditors and Editors Reader’s Poll, won 2nd place for her article on, “Yes, Virginia, There IS a Santa Claus” in the Preditors and Editors Reader’s Poll for Best Nonfiction of 2007, and won 7th place for her article, “Dinosaur Tracks in My Backyard” in the Preditors and Editors Reader’s Poll for Best Nonfiction of 2008.  

VS Grenier learned how to hone her writing skills at the Institute of Children’s Literature and is a member of the League of Utah Writers (HWG), Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators (SCBWI) and Musing Our Children.

Want to learn more about VS Grenier?  Then check out any of the links that follow:

Email Addresses:

Author Website:

Company Website:

Blog Address:

Twitter URL:

Facebook URL:

Facebook Fan Page URL:


Friday, June 17, 2011

Today's Question

Today's question is this:

What are you currently reading?

My answer is:

I'm currently in between books, so I now have to make the decision as to which book I will read next. 

Friday, June 10, 2011

Would You Like Your Own Copy of POSSESSION?

Would you like your own copy of POSSESSION?  Then go to check out the post at Literary Rambles,  There is a great interview with Elana Johnson, the author of POSSESSION and following the interview is the information on how you can get in on the drawing for a chance to win your own copy of POSSESSION.  The drawing ends at midnight on June 18th.

Monday, June 6, 2011

Awards to Share

I'd like to thank Beverly for this award.  Her blog is The Story of a Writer,

I'd also like to thank Deb for honoring me with this award.  Her blog is The Bumpy Road,

The Rules:
1. Thank the person who nominated you and link to that person's blog.
2. Share seven things about yourself.
3. Pass on the award to seven deserving blogs.
4. Contact those who you have nominated and congratulate them.

Seven Things About Myself:
1. I attended my son's high school commencements on Sunday, June 5, 2011.
2. I like drinking water.
3. I like the smell of fresh cut grass.
4. My son and I get very competitive when we play Monopoly.
5. I like putting together jigsaw puzzles.
6. I collect binder clips.
7. I collect paper clips.

Passing The Award To:
1. Lenny's World
2. Julie Musil
3. The Writing Mama
4. Unedited
5. Young Adult Author Elana Johnson
6. Write From the Soul & Visualeyes
7. Write What Inspires You!

I'd like to thank Virginia for this sweet award.  Her blog is The Writing Mama,

The Rules:
1. Thank and link to the person who nominated you.
2. Share 7 random facts about yourself.
3. Pass the award along to 15 deserving blog buddies.
4. Contact those buddies to congratulate them.

7 Random Facts:
1. I like vegetarian lasagna.
2. I like to eat black olives as a snack.
3. I used to collect teddy bears.
4. I collect angels.
5. I WILL NOT try sushi.
6. I like ice cream.
7. I like to bake cookies, especially at Christmas.

Passing The Award To:
1. Lenny's World
2. Book Dreaming
3. Random Thoughts
4. Storyqueen's Castle
5. Thing 1 and Thing 2
6. Brimful Curiosities
7. Where The Best Books Are!
8. Jacktoons
9. A Totally Random Romp
10. Educationtipster: Kathy Stemke, Author/Educator
11. Positive Letters .... inspirational stories ....
12. One Writer's Journey
13. Joylene Nowell Butler, author
14. Seeing Creative
15. W.I.P. IT


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