I had the pleasure of connecting with author Kai Strand through social media after our stories made it in the same read aloud stories for children collections published by Knowonder. Today is the release date for Ms. Strand’s book Worth the Effort: Ella’s Story, and lucky to interview her for my blog.
Enter the giveaway for Worth the Effort: Ella’s Story HERE!
You have five books out, with a sixth coming out today!! What have you learned through the process of publication with book six, verses your first book and your third book?
Thank you for hosting me today, Savannah. So far the release of a new book hasn’t gotten any less exciting! I’ve learned so much with each release, but a couple of the more important things, I believe, are:
The journey to publication is unique for each book. Even within a series. Each book has it’s own personality and it is important to do your best to expose that to as many people as possible so they can decide if it is a book for them. That said, the best way to please readers, isn’t to obsess over guest posts and interviews, it is to write another book. I really enjoy a good new release ‘tour’ like I’m having with Worth the Effort: Ella’s Story, but I’ll soon be back to the writing side of things to create more books for readers to enjoy.
With your Super Villain Academy Series and Worth the Effort series what have you done differently to create those stories series verses your stand alone books?
I also have The Weaver Tale series. I looked at my body of work one day and said, “Whose idea was it to start all these series?” Series are difficult, but each of mine is different from the next. The Weaver Tales are middle grade books all set within the same fictional village of Word Weavers, where everyone speaks in story. They also have a recurring character, Unwanted. He’s a funny little gnome-elf who grants wishes. Other than that each book is unique and there is no specific reading order.
Super Villain Academy is a traditional sequence series. You need to read the books in order. Each book has an individual story arc, but the series also has an over arcing plot that will resolve in the third book.
Finally, Worth the Effort are stories written in different point of views. The first book Ella’s Story, which released today, is in…Ella’s point of view. And because there are always two sides to every story, the second book will be in Ayden’s point of view. It was so much fun to write, though more difficult than I expected.
Why do you think King of Bad has done so well with readers?
Honestly, I wish I knew beyond a shadow of a doubt why. When I was shopping the book to publishers, I knew the book was going to be a game changer for me. Even so, I was pleasantly surprised when that became a reality. I think it is a combination of an intriguing storyline and timing. Superheroes/villains have been big and my book fills the niche in the less saturated area of young adult. There are plenty superhero stories for middle grade and adult readers, but for some reason, not as many titles in y.a.
How do you know when your story idea will work as a Young Adult book verses a Middle Grade book?
That’s a good question. It isn’t something I ponder over when I’m developing new book ideas. For me I think it fleshes out pretty quickly with the subject and the characters I want to use. Those tend to come to me simultaneously. As an example, when Worth the Effort was forming in my head, I knew I wanted a romantic element between a high school girl and an underage homeless boy. Definitely young adult. During the revision process, someone suggested I increase the age of the main characters and do a new adult title, but it was really important to me to show that there are underage homeless kids.
When and why did your writing career start?
I’m a mother of four. I became a full-time mom when my youngest turned one and we moved to Central Oregon. When my third child started Kindergarten and I was left home alone with only my youngest I felt like I had ALL the time in the world! So I wrote a novel (which is now Beware of the White). That same year my second oldest was diagnosed with double vision and tracking issues. Luckily both of those issues are relatively easy to resolve, but by the time he got it in order, he was woefully behind his classmates in reading level. Because reading had already become such a chore, I wanted to write stories he actually wanted to read (which are some of the stories published by Knowonder.)
What is your least favorite thing about writing and your favorite thing about writing?
Up until recently, my least favorite would have been editing. But struggling through the indie author process has temporarily changed that to a lack of confidence. Non-flagging belief in your work/decision making abilities/skills is always difficult, but when you are 100% the boss – way harder!
Favorite thing is most definitely the readers. When someone says they enjoyed my book or a character, it inspires me to continue writing. I love to get lost in the book I’m reading, and to hear I’ve provided that experience for a reader is the ultimate writing success for me.
With several new releases in 2014, how do you focus on one piece at a time when you are writing a manuscript?
I’ve always been a very compartmentalized person. My husband and I met at work, dated while we worked together and worked together again years later. It was never a problem to me because when I was at work, he was a co-worker, not my boyfriend/husband. So when I am writing a middle grade and editing a young adult or promoting one and/or the other, it is relatively easy for me to keep them all separate in my mind, since they are in their own box.
That said, there is a down side to having a compartmentalized personality. Such as when I contact someone (say through email) and dive straight into the topic I want to address, because a pleasant greeting isn’t ‘in the box.’ Sometimes I can seem abrupt. Or if I’m at a play or concert at the kids’ school and someone asks about my next book, I might stare a bit too long while my brain moves out of the MOM box and over to the author box.
Tell us about your latest release, Worth the Effort: Ella’s Story, as well as your other upcoming releases for 2014.
Worth the Effort: Ella’s Story
Ella Jones is a coward. There is a teen boy living in the alley behind her work and she is terrified of him.
Desperate to leave behind the stereotypical and judgmental world she was raised in, Ella forces herself to make a true connection with seventeen-year-old Ayden Worth. As their friendship grows Ayden’s quiet, gentle ways teach her true courage.
But there’s more to Ayden’s story than Ella knows. When their worlds collide in the most unexpected place, Ella feels betrayed. Will she find the courage to learn who Ayden really is, or will she determine he’s not worth the effort?
Polar Opposites: Super Villain Academy Bk 2 – June 2014
The supers are balanced. All’s well in the super world. Right? When dogs drag Oceanus away, Jeff learns the supers are so balanced, they no longer care to get involved. The only one who seems to care is Oci’s ex-villain, ex-boyfriend, Set. With Jeff’s own powers unbalanced and spiraling out of control, he wonders if they will find Oci before he looses control completely, and if they’ll find her alive.
Worth the Effort: Ayden’s Story (tentative) August 2014
This isn’t the first time Ayden has taken to the streets for comfort.
(I don’t want to say too much, this early and spoil some of the surprises in Ella’s Story. But there is a nice comprehensive blurb at the end of Ella’s Story for readers who want more.)
The Lumpy Duckling: Another Weaver Tale 2014
Wheezy’s one wish is for everyone to see her best friend, Lumpy, the way she does. When her wish comes true, will their friendship survive?
Thanks for having me today, Savannah, and for helping me celebrate my release day. I hope your readers will visit my website, www.kaistrand.com, to read about my books and see where they can stalk – I mean find me online. Good luck to those who enter the giveaway! Don’t forget to enter the giveaway HERE!