It is my pleasure today to host Kai Strand, dear friend and crit partner. Her debut book, The Weaver, for MG readers, has recently been released. Here's what Kai has to say:
mom and I moved to Southern California the summer before my sophomore year in high school. I met my husband six years later at work. I worked in corporate America for about 10 more years and in that time had four children. Finally I decided enough was enough and quit my job to stay home and raise my kids. The very first day I was home I baked cookies and my husband was laid off from his job.
So we sold our house and moved to central Oregon. We still live there and love it. I work part time now and after all these years my husband and I work together again.
I've always been a storyteller and writer, but I didn’t consider becoming a professional writer until my oldest daughter and I became hooked on the Harry Potter series and we were between book releases (the fourth and fifth book, I believe.) I decided while I waited for the release of the next HP, I’d create my own characters and my very own world. In fewer than four months, I had completed my very first middle grade novel.
Kai kindly answered some questions to tell us more about herself.
Bev: Tell us about your recent release, The Weaver.
Kai: About The Weaver: 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.
I think children will relate to Mary. Mary feels different and inept. I think many kids (and adults!) often feel their differences stand out like a neon sign on their forehead. The Weaver has an old-fashioned feel but with a timeless theme. It’s a lyrical tale full of storytelling. Written for children 9 – 12 years old.
Bev: How did you find your publisher?
Kai: I’m so glad you asked. This is a great story! I read on a writer’s blog that there was going to be a multi-author book signing for a children’s book publisher in my area. I thought, “What? There aren’t any children’s authors around here.” So I did some research and learned that an illustrator lived nearby. I figured she had a big event to plan, so I contacted her and offered to help. She graciously invited me to the dinner the evening before the signing. So I met many of my (now) fellow angels as well as our busy, busy editor. It was a lovely event and I had so much fun. And silly me, it took more than a month after meeting them before I realized The Weaver might be a good fit for the publisher. I feel very blessed to be with Guardian Angel Publishing.
Bev: Do you outline your stories or just let them flow organically?
Kai: My writing has always been ‘go with the flow’. I do start a companion document for each manuscript where I can dash off plot ideas when they strike and keep track of character names and traits, stuff like that. I’ve learned the hard way that when I take the time to formally outline, it kills my creative flow and I lose interest in the story. I’m a total geek when I’m going through a first draft. I “ooh” and “awww” over my more creative ideas and giggle at sarcasm as if the character really did say it themselves (not me). I love first drafting.
Bev: Describe your writing schedule.
Kai: Um, yeah…well. Don’t have a schedule. Sometimes I’m really disciplined. Just haven’t been lately. Saturday through Monday are the days I have the most time. I try to split it between marketing/promotion, researching submissions and writing. “Try” being the operative word in that sentence.
Bev: What does your family think of you as a writer?
Kai: I have crowned myself the world’s luckiest writer. Even have the tiara to prove it. They are completely understanding of how my writing has a direct impact on the quality and timeliness of their meals. They know the vacuum doesn’t get used if I’m revising because instead I’m pacing the house mumbling about plot holes. But the BEST, BEST, BEST thing they do, is listen. They’ve sat for hours upon hours listening to me read my stories aloud. World’s luckiest writer!
Bev: Name your favorite book/author as a child.
Kai: I was completely and utterly enthralled with Walter Farley’s The Black Stallion series. I wanted to ride a black horse through the desert. I wanted to tame that wild stallion’s temper. I loved Son of The Black Stallion and The Black Stallion and Flame. It surprises me now to realize those two books were published thirteen years apart. But they were all published before I was born, so I didn’t ever think about it then. I just devoured every Black Stallion book I could get my hands on. My school library was my favorite place.
Bev: If you could live in any time period, past or present, when would you choose and why?
Kai: Too many choices! How wonderful to be a young woman from a wealthy family in 1900, great fashions, courted by eligible bachelors. Or, to be a trailblazer on the Oregon Trail in 1800, discovering flora and fauna never before seen. But instead I write fantasy and fiction in the new millennium. I’m glad it was decided for me.
Bev: What have you learned about the publishing world since your book came out that you were not aware of before?
Kai: It is only just released, so I think I still have a lot to learn. But the first lesson was one of humility. I discovered that my book data had been uploaded to Amazon. I squealed and showed the kids. Then got up and served dinner.
Bev: Are you currently working on other stories? Tell us about them.
Kai: I’ve got another middle grade novel about 12 year old Natalie Isabelle Cailean Edwards (N.I.C.E.) who achieves sudden and unexpected nationwide fame. It changes her life dramatically and not all for the better. She has to figure out how to handle her fame before her life spirals completely out of her control.
I also have a young adult fantasy that I love, love, love (okay, I actually love all my stories, is that wrong?). This one is about 16 year old Jeff, who is recruited to an academy for super villains where he never really fits in. What with his main super power refusing to show up, the girl he hangs out with being kicked out of the academy for being good, oh…and his manners (not a popular thing with villains). Being a good-bad guy is harder than it sounds.
There is a paranormal romance and a modern princess tale. I’ve got so many ideas tumbling around in my head.
Bev: Where can your fans learn more about you? Website? Blogs?
Kai: I would love for people to visit my website; http://www.kaistrand.com/, browse around, and read the short stories I’ve linked to. I maintain a blog for fellow children’s writers Strands of Thought. I’m on Twitter and I have an author page on Facebook where I’d love to connect with readers. (I really love Facebook)
Thank you for visiting my blog today, Kai. I wish you the best of luck with your writing.
Kai: Thanks for inviting me, Beverly. You’re a gracious hostess.
And now for the lovely book.
Reading level: Ages 9-12 Hardcover: 94 pages
Publisher: Guardian Angel Publishing, Inc (December 10, 2010)
The Weaver by Kai Strand
In a town of storytellers, 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.
The Weaver is a middle grade novel that offers a little fantasy and a lot of storytelling.
Buy your copy of, The Weaver, from Guardian Angel Publishing or on Amazon.
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